c.1342 - 1400
Geoffrey Chaucer was born in London to a middle class family.
He may have gone to Oxford or Cambridge. He became a page to the wife of the Duke of Clarence, and later transferred to the king's household. He travelled in France and Italy on diplomatic missions and in 1367 the king granted him a pension.
In 1369 Chaucer wrote his Book of the Duchess, on the death of John of Gaunt's wife. In 1386 he was elected a knight of the shire for Kent. During this time he wrote Troilus and Criseyde, and several other major works. His early writings followed French trends, but were greatly influenced by Italian authors, notably Boccaccio.
Chaucer is best known for the 'Canterbury Tales' which are unique for their variety, humour, grace, and realism. The 'Tales' were written not in Latin but in English and they marked the beginnings of a distinctively English literature.
Chaucer became the first great poet of the English nation. He died in London and was buried in West-minster Abbey.
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