Colet was an English priest and scholar and an educational pioneer.
John Colet was born in London in 1467. His father was a wealthy merchant, Sir Henry Colet, who was twice lord mayor of London. Colet studied at Oxford University and was ordained deacon in 1497, and priest shortly afterwards. He travelled in France and Italy and then returned to teach at Oxford. Colet's great friendship with the Dutch scholar Erasmus began around 1498.
Colet was a leading exponent of Humanism. In returning to the scriptures, believing that the study of the bible was the only route to holiness, and as a result attacking abuses and idolatry in the church, Colet anticipated the Reformation, although he himself would never have considered a formal breach with the Catholic Church. His views were too radical for some and in 1512 he was accused of heresy by the bishop of London. The case was later dismissed.
Colet became dean of St Paul's in 1505, a position he held until his death. In the same year as this appointment, Colet inherited a great fortune from his father which he used to endow a school, St Paul's, re-founded in 1509. He wrote statutes to dictate how the school should be run and remained highly influential in its early years.
Colet died on 10 September 1519.