On Famous Women


The author declares in the preface that this collection of one hundred and six short biographies[3] (104 chapters)[4] of women is the first example in Western literature devoted solely and exclusively to women.[1][5] Some of the lost works of Suetonius' "illustrious people" and Boccaccio's De Casibus Virorum Illustrium are a mixture of women and men, where others like Petrarch's De Viris Illustribus and Jerome's De Viris Illustribus are biographies of exclusively men. Boccaccio himself even says this work was inspired[6] and modeled on Petrarch's De Viris Illustribus.[7]

Boccaccio's collection of female biographies inspired characters in Christine de Pizan's The Book of the City of Ladies, Alvaro de Luna's De las virtuosas y claras mujeres, Thomas Elyot's Defence of Good Women, Alonso of Cartagena's De las mujeres ilustres, Giovanni Sabbadino degli Arienti's Gynevera de la clare donne, Iacopo Filippo Forest's De plurimis claris selectisque mulierbus, Jean Lemaire's Couronne margaritique, and various works by Edmund Spenser. It also had influence on Geoffrey Chaucer's Legend of Good Women and The Canterbury Tales.[8] Boccaccio's work has much respect in the history of Western literature and is a fountainhead for European women biography.

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