Dante Alighieri was born in Florence in 1265 and belonged to a noble but impoverished family. He married Gemma Donati in his twenties and had four children. He met Beatrice, who was to be his muse, in 1274, and when she died in 1290 he sought distraction in philosophy and theology, and wrote La Vita Nuova. He worked on the Divine Comedy from 1308 until near the time of his death in Ravenna in 1321.
Robin Kirkpatrick is a poet and widely-published Dante scholar. He has taught courses on Dante's Divine Comedy in Hong Kong, Dublin, and Cambridge where is Fellow of Robinson College and Professor of Italian and English Literatures.