Geoffrey Chaucer was born in London in 1340. He was an English author, poet, philosopher, courtier, and diplomat. He is also referred to as the father of English Literature.was the first to write what became generally well-known and recognized poems and stories in the language of the common people of his time – medieval English.
Geoffrey Chaucer was born in the reign of Edward III, lived through that of Richard II, and died the year after Henry IV ascended the throne. His father and grandfather were both London vintners and several previous generations had been merchants in Ipswich. His family name is derived from the French chasseur, meaning “shoemaker”. We know practically nothing about his childhood, but it is evident from the wide and varied scholarship with characteristics his writings that he must have enjoyed the advantages of a liberal education. At seventeen he received a court appointment as a page to the wife of the Duke of Clarence, Edward III’s son. In 1359 he was with the English army in France, where he was taken prisoner, but was soon ransomed for 16 pounds. Sometime after this, he married and became valet of the king’s chamber.
Chaucer’s literary career into three periods, which are called his French, his Italian, and his English period, respectively. His genius was nourished, to begin with, on the French poetry and romance which formed the favourite reading of the court and cultivated society during the time of his youth. Naturally, he followed the fashion and his early work was done on French models. Thus, besides translating proportions at least of the popular Roman de la Rose, he wrote among other quite imitative things, an allegory on the death of Blanche, John of Gaunt’s wife which he called The Bake of Duchesse (1369) and which is wholly in the manner of the reigning French school. Chaucer is the disciple of the great Italian masters, for The House Of Fame clearly owes much to Dante, while Troylus and Cryseyde by far his longest single poem, is based upon and in part translated from, Boccaccio’s Filostatrato. To the close of this period, the unfinished Legende of Good Women may also be referred. Finally, he ceases to be Italian as he had ceased to be French and becomes English. The Canterbury Tales in which we have Chaucer’s most famous and characteristic work.
The Canterbury Tales is a collection of 24 stories that runs to over 17,000 lines written in Middle English by Geoffrey Chaucer between 1387 and 1400.The tales mostly written in verse, although some are in prose are presented as part of a story-telling contest by a group of pilgrims as they travel together from London to Canterbury to visit the shrine of Saint Thomas Becket at Canterbury Cathedral. The prize for this contest is a free meal at the Tabard Inn at Southwark on their return. All this is explained in the prologue after which Chaucer proceeds to introduce his fellow Pilgrims. He lived to complete a small portion only, for the work as we have it is merely a fragment of 24 tales.