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



Little of William Painter’s personal history is known. Born in 1540, Painter had a flourishing administrative career as Clerk of the ordnance in the Tower of London, an office that he retained until his death (1594). Painter is mainly known for his successful work as a translator: he rendered Latin, Greek, French and Italian stories or novels (by Herodotus, Plutarch, Tacitus, Boccaccio, Bandello, Masuccio, and many others) into English. Most of his work is contained in a popular collection of tales, titled The Palace of Pleasure (1566). This collection is considered to be one of the most widely known texts in early modern period. Its influence on many Elizabethan dramatists (Shakespeare, Webster, Fletcher, Middleton, Peele) is undisputed both in terms of specific indebtedness and as a force of ideological appropriation and transformation.


Dictionary of National Biography: