Shakespeare’s Narrative Sources: Italian Novellas and Their European Dissemination



Matteo Bandello was born in Castelnuovo Scrivia in 1485 and died in Bazens in 1561. He was an Italian monk, a very well-travelled diplomat, and a prolific writer. He acted as tutor of Lucrezia Gonzaga in Mantua before flying to France with Cesare Fregoso. In France he became bishop of Agen. He is mainly known for his Novelle (1554) whose first three parts were published in Lucca in 1554 while a fourth volume was produced in Lyon in 1573. Written in imitation of Boccaccio’s Decameron, the Novelle proved particularly popular in France where they were translated by Pierre Boaistuau in 1559 and by François de Belleforest in 1570. These Histoires Tragiques were then rendered into English by William Painter, first, in his Palace of Pleasure (1566-67) and by Geoffrey Fenton, later, in his Certaine Tragicall Discourses (1567).