On Famous Women


Boccaccio wrote this work in Certaldo probably between the summer of 1361 and the summer of 1362,[1] however could have been as late as December 1362.[9] He dedicated his work to Andrea Acciaioli, Countess of Altavilla, in Naples at the end of 1362 even though he continued to revise it up until his death in 1375. She was not his first choice however. He first considered to dedicate his slim volume to Joanna I of Naples. He ultimately decided that his work as a little book was not worthy a person of such great fame.[10]

There are over 100 manuscripts in at least nine different stages of this work showing that this was a most popular work in the age of hand written codexes of the Renaissance period. Boccaccio worked on this as a labor of love with several versions, editions, and rearrangements in the last twenty years or so of his life.[11] In the last part of the 14th century after Boccaccio died a Donato degli Albanzani had a copy that his friend Boccaccio gave him and translated it from Latin into Italian. In the early part of the 15th century Antonio di S. Lupidio made a volgare translation and Laurent de Premierfait put it in French while later Heinrich Steinhowel rendered it into German. In the beginning of the 16th century a Henry Parker translated about half into English and dedicated it to Henry VIII. This was then followed in the 16th century of other Italian translations by Luca Antonio Ridolfi and Giuseppe Betussi.

The invention of the printing press brought the first Latin version done by Johan Zainer in Ulm about 1473. The only complete 16th century printed Latin version to survive is from a Mathias Apiarus done around 1539. From that time it was not until the middle of the 20th century until there was another complete printed version done - some 400 years later.[12]

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