The Italian Connection

A likely author for the early Italian plays is Michelangelo Florio – a fugitive from the Inquisition who fled to England in 1550.



A third of the First Folio plays show familiarity with Italian history, topography, custom and idiomatic expression.  It is probable that a native Italian wrote, co-authored or edited the plays set in Italy, apart from those of the Roman period.   A likely candidate for involvement in the writing is Michelangelo Florio who fled from the Inquisition to England in 1550 and gained the patronage of several noblemen and statesmen. Florio taught Lady Jane Grey and Lord Henry Herbert, later 2nd Earl of Pembroke. Michelangelo’s son John, born in London, became a major lexicographer, translator of Montaigne and Italian tutor to Queen Anne. It is estimated that John Florio introduced some 1,200 Italian words and expressions into English: a number of these are to be found in the First Folio. A book that examines this issue in detail is Richard Paul Roe’s The Shakespeare Guide to Italy.

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