Chaucer 1340-1400: The Life and Times of the First English Poet
by Richard West
The year of the millennium marks the 600th anniversary of the death of Geoffrey Chaucer. This first, and some would say greatest, poet of the English ... Show synopsis The year of the millennium marks the 600th anniversary of the death of Geoffrey Chaucer. This first, and some would say greatest, poet of the English language stands before the gateway of the early modern age. He lived at a time when the elite languages of former conquerors, French and Latin, were both giving way to English - no longer just the vernacular of the common people, but increasingly the language of the court, the law and of literature. This biography charts the life of an extraordinary man, whose own character has always puzzled lovers of his comic masterpiece, "The Canterbury Tales". How did he remain so apparently cheerful and serene through one of the darkest eras of history? As a child he survived the Black Death. Later he fought in France during the Hundred Years War, served as a diplomat in Italy, and became an MP at the angry beginnings of the Protestant Reformation, the Peasants' Revolt and the overthrow and murder of Richard II.