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.