John Payne's translation of The Decameron was originally published in a private printing for The Villon Society, London in 1886. Comprised of 100 novellas told by ten men and women over a ten day journey fleeing plague-infested Florence, the Decameron is an allegorical work famous for its bawdy portrayals of everyday life, its searing wit and mockery, and its careful adherence to a framed structure. The word “decameron” is derived from the Greek and means “ten days”. Boccaccio drew on many influences in writing the Decameron, and many writers, including Martin Luther, Chaucer, and Keats, later drew inspiration from the book.
Giovanni Boccaccio (1313–1375) was an Italian writer and humanist, one of the founders of the Renaissance. He studied business but abandoned it eventually to pursue his literary interests. In 1350 Boccaccio met Francesco Petrarca (Petrarch) (1304–1374), one the most important figures in the beginnings of the Renaissance and Humanism.