Peter Thornton

Peter was born in Key West, Florida and moved to New York City with his parents shortly after World war 2. He was a greatly accomplished attorney, professor, poet, translator, and scholar.
Throughout his life, Peter was a voracious reader and a serious scholar. He spoke and read, to varying degrees, eight languages: In addition to his native English, Peter knew Italian, French, Spanish, Latin, Greek, German, and Arabic. He went to Regis High School, a Jesuit high school for gifted students, in Manhattan, followed by a full scholarship to Boston College. Peter received a Ph.D. in English literature from Stanford, doing his dissertation on Milton’s Paradise Lost under the intense director of arguably the age’s leading Milton scholar, Yvor Winters. Peter received his J.D. from the University of Illinois College of Law, where he was editor-in-chief of the law review, followed by a clerkship with the Illinois Supreme Court.
Peter was Professor of English at Bradley University, Illinois. During a subsequent legal career, specializing in utilities law, his passion was for Italian translation. His twenty years translating Dante’s Inferno from the medieval Italian to modern English came with a deep range of informative footnotes that showed him at the cutting edge of renaissance scholarship. Similar decades were spent in his modern rhymed translations of the works of Petrarch.

In November 2019, some weeks before he died, Peter spent a few days in the editorial conference for his Petrarch translation. The book crowns a life of careful, passionate scholarship.