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).
The representative humanist of the Elizabethan age.
Translator, teacher, secretary, lexicographer and encyclopedist, stylist, interpreter, book collector, philologist, and philosopher: John Florio was one of the most prodigious and learned scholars of the Renaissance. He was patronized by the Earl of Leicester and Henry Wriothesley, Earl of Southampton, perhaps also patron of Shakespeare; he was an official “Groom of the Privy Chamber” reader in Italian to Prince Henry and tutor to Princess Elizabeth, afterwards Queen Anne of Denmark; he numbered Sir Edward Dyer, Fulke Greville, John Lyly, and Stephen Gosson among his pupils; his works were prefaced with commendatory poems by such men as Samuel Daniel, John Thorius, and Matthew Gwinne; he was the friend of Ben Jonson, Nicholas Breton, Richard Hakluyt, Theodore Diodati, Gabriel Harvey, Edmund Spenser, and Giordano Bruno.
John Florio's Works
First Fruits is John Florio’s first work, published in London in 1578 at 25 years old. Entitled “Florio his firste fruites which yeelde familiar speech, merie prouerbes, wittie sentences, and […]
Second Fruits is John Florio’s second work. Entitled Second Frutes to be gathered of twelve trees, of diverse but delightful tastes to the tongues of Italian and English (1591), it […]
A WORLD OF WORDES
¶ A WORLD OF WORDS: A TRAILBLAZING ENTERPRISE While he was engaged in the service of Henry Wriothesley, Florio produced a work which remains a landmark in the history of […]
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.
From Florio's blog
NEW DOCUMENTS ON MICHELANGELO FLORIO
In this article (Nuova Rivista Storica, Anno CVI, Settembre-Dicembre 2022, Fascicolo III) Andrea Bocchi reconstructs the confinement of Michelangelo Florio in the Roman prison in Tor di Nona and later […]
JOHN FLORIO, VENETIAN AMBASSADORS, AND THE JACOBEAN COURT ENTERTAINMENTS
In a letter dated December 24 1608, the Venetian ambassador Marco Antonio Correr thanked John Florio for having invited him to a special event, possibly a court masque, performed during […]
JOHN FLORIO’S LIFE: A TIMELINE
A timeline of John Florio’s life, from his birth to his death. John Florio’s life began in London in 1552. After two years, with Mary Tudor’s ascension to the throne, his […]
“ASPECTS OF POPULAR CULTURE” – JUNE 9 2022 – CONFERENCE PROGRAMME
“Resolute Florio: self fashioning and identity construction in early modern age.” The Chair of English Language, Literature and Culture Department Jan Kochanowski University in Kielce The Branch in Piotrków Trybunalski […]
JOHN FLORIO’S HEROIC POEM
“A dictionary haunted by a heroic poem has produced this heroic poem haunted by a dictionary.” Writer and artist Kat Addis, author of Space Parsley (the87press, 2021), has published in […]