Boccaccio was born in Florence in 1313. He later moved to Naples, where he became part of the circle at court and started writing books. In 1348, he witnessed the plague in Florence, which killed half the city's population and would become the backdrop to his masterpiece,The Decameron. In later life he befriended the poet Petrarch, who left to him in his will an ermine robe to keep him warm when studying on winter nights. Boccaccio died in 1375.Peter Hainsworth is Professor of Italian at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford and co-editor of The Oxford Companion to Italian Literature.
"The Decameron, by Giovanni Boccaccio (1313-1375), made a great impression on me. . . . Ten youths--seven women and three men--take turns telling stories for 10 days. At around the age of 16, I found it reassuring that Boccaccio, in conceiving his narrators, had made most of them women. Here was a great writer, the father of the modern story, presenting seven great female narrators. There was something to hope for. . . . The seven female narrators of the Decameron should never again need to rely on the great Giovanni Boccaccio to express themselves. . . . The female story, told with increasing skill, increasingly widespread and unapologetic, is what must now assume power." --Elena Ferrante, The New York Times