History - Geoffrey Chaucer
Illuminated manuscript of the prologue to 'The Canterbury Tales' © Chaucer was the first great poet writing in English, whose best-known work is 'The Canterbury Tales'. Geoffrey Chaucer was born between 1340 and 1345, probably in London. His father was a prosperous wine merchant. We do not know any details of his early life and education. In 1357, he was a page to Elizabeth, Countess of Ulster, wife of Edward III's third son. Chaucer was captured by the French during the Brittany expedition of 1359, but was ransomed by the king. Around 1366, Chaucer married Philippa Roet, a lady-in-waiting in the queen's household. In 1374, Chaucer was appointed comptroller of the lucrative London customs. Chaucer's first major work was 'The Book of the Duchess', an elegy for the first wife of his patron John of Gaunt. Chaucer disappears from the historical record in 1400, and is thought to have died soon after.