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Geoffrey Chaucer
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Geoffrey Chaucer


Geoffrey Chaucer (ca.1343-1400) was an English author, philosopher, diplomat, and poet, and is best known and remembered as the author of The Canterbury Tales. He is sometimes credited with being the first author to demonstrate the artistic legitimacy of the English language.

He was a contemporary of Giovanni Boccaccio and Christine de Pizan. Although born as a son of a vintner, he became a page at the court of Edward III of England. He was in the service of first Elizabeth de Burgh, Countess of Ulster, and then Lionel of Antwerp, son of Edward III. He traveled from England to France, Spain, Flanders, and Italy (Genoa and Florence), where he came into contact with medieval continental poetry.

Chaucer married, ca. 1366, Philippa (de) Roet, a lady-in-waiting to Edward III's queen, Philippa of Hainault and a sister of Katherine Swynford, who later (ca. 1396) became the third wife of Chaucer's friend and patron, John of Gaunt.

Chaucer wrote poetry as a diversion from his job as Comptroller of the Customs for the port of London, and also translated such important works as The Romance of the Rose, written in French by Guillaume de Lorris and enlarged years later by Jean de Meun, and Anicius Manlius Severinus BoŽthius' De consolatione philosophiae. He also wrote the Parlement of Foules and the House of Fame. However, he's best known as the writer of Troilus and Criseyde and of The Canterbury Tales, a collection of stories (told by fictional pilgrims on the road to the cathedral at Canterbury) that would help to shape English literature.

Chaucer's Chanticleer and the Fox was based on a story by Marie de France. The image shows an outdoor production of the tale at Ashby-de-la-Zouch castle.

In the history of English literature, he is considered the introducer of continental accentual-syllabic metre as an alternative to the alliterative Anglo-Saxon metre. He also helped to standardise the southern accent (London area) of the Middle English language.

Chaucer died on October 25, 1400. He is buried at Westminster Abbey in London, and was the first tenant of the Poets' Corner.


See also

External links

Electronic texts freely availables from
Project Gutenberg: