Geoffrey Chaucer Biography | The Father of English Literature

Geoffrey Chaucer Biography - The Father of English Literature

Geoffrey Chaucer is known as the “Father of English Literature”. He was a medieval English poet, philosopher, bureaucrat, and diplomat. He was born around 1343 in London. Chaucer’s life coincided with a period of significant social, political, and cultural upheaval in England. His literary contributions, particularly “The Canterbury Tales”, have left an unforgettable mark on English literature. He is among those writers who shaped the English language.

Early Life and Education.

Chaucer’s early life is not documented. We know about him from legal records, contemporary writings, and his own works. He was born to John Chaucer, a vintner and deputy to the King’s butler, and Agnes Copton. Little is known about his childhood, but it is believed that he received a decent education, likely at the St Paul’s Cathedral School.

Career and Bureaucratic Service.

Chaucer’s career began in the service of the royal court. He entered into the service of Elizabeth de Burgh, the Countess of Ulster. Later he became a page in the household of Prince Lionel. His diplomatic career took him to various European countries. He experienced diverse cultures that later influenced his writing.

Chaucer’s diplomatic missions included trips to Italy. He encountered the works of Italian poets like Dante and Petrarch. These encounters significantly impacted his writing style and contributed to the richness of his literary works.

Literary Works.

Chaucer’s literary work shows his ability to master various genres and styles. Some of his notable works include:

The Canterbury Tales (c. 1387-1400).

Chaucer’s “The Canterbury Tales” is a collection of stories narrated by a diverse group of pilgrims travelling to the shrine of Thomas Becket in Canterbury. This work is a social commentary on medieval society. The book explores themes such as love, morality, and human nature.

Troilus and Criseyde (c. 1382).

A narrative poem based on the tragic love story of Troilus.

The Parliament of Fowls (c. 1382).

A dream vision poem that explores themes of love, nature, and the power of destiny.

The Book of the Duchess (c. 1369-1372).

A poem written in the elegiac tradition, possibly dedicated to the memory of Blanche, Duchess of Lancaster.

Legacy and Influence.

Chaucer’s influence on English literature is immeasurable. For writing, he used Middle English, which is a blend of French and Old English. He shaped the evolving English language. His narrative techniques, characterizations, and keen observations of human behaviour set a precedent for future writers.

“The Canterbury Tales” is worth mentioning in this regard. The book is known for depicting realism, humour, and portrayal of a cross-section of medieval society. The work has inspired countless adaptations, translations and scholarly discussions.

Death and Recognition.

Geoffrey Chaucer passed away on October 25, 1400. He was buried in Westminster Abbey. His tomb became a symbol of literary recognition. He was the first poet to be interred in what later became known as the “Poet’s Corner”.

Chaucer’s impact extends beyond his lifetime. His contributions to English literature continue to be celebrated. His ability to capture the nuances of human experience and society has ensured his enduring legacy as a pioneer in the world of literature.