John Florio (1552–1625), was an English linguist, poet, writer, translator, lexicographer, and royal language tutor at the Court of James I. He is recognised as the most important Renaissance humanist in England. He contributed 1,149 words to the English language, placing third after Chaucer (with 2,012 words) and Shakespeare (with 1,969 words). He was the first translator of Montaigne into English, the first translator of Boccaccio into English and he wrote the first comprehensive Italian–English dictionary.
John Florio was a contemporary of Shakespeare, who, according to almost unanimous scholars of late sixteenth-century England, must have been well aware of his meritorious works. The link between Florio and Shakespeare, which at least in terms of intertextual influences must have been quite close, has invited some critics in recent years even to formulate the hypothesis that the Bard’s plays were actually written by Florio (Tassinari 2013). Less daring approaches to the Shakespeare authorship merely speculate on Florio’s direct hand behind the editing of the First Folio (Frampton 2013), and trace Shakespeare’s debt to Florio for the English translation of Montaigne (cf. Conley 1986), a translation that Shakespeare must have compulsorily read and from which he certainly had much insight and information to draw (Greenblatt and Platt 2014).
John Florio's Works
What death more sweet than die for love?
Why, but learning would not be made common. Yea, but learning cannot be too common, and the commoner the better. Why, but who is not jealous his mistress should be so prostitute? Yea, but this mistress is like air, fire, water: the more breathed, the clearer; the more extended, the warmer; the more drawn, the sweeter. It were inhumanity to coop her up, and worthy forfeiture close to conceal her.