Frances A. Yates received a master's degree in French theater from London University in 1926. She taught at North London Collegiate School until 1939. A small inheritance from her father gave her the freedom to conduct some independent study and at some point she discovered forgotten documents in the London Public Records Office about the late 16th-century linguist and translator John Florio. In 1934, she published her first book, John Florio: the Life of an Italian in Shakespeare's England, which laid the groundwork for the rest of her prize-winning career as a scholar of the Renaissance. She also taught at the Warburg Institute of the University of London for many years.