Sunday, September 22, 2013

Geoffrey Chaucer Biography

Geoffrey Chaucer (1343-1400)
Most portraits were drawn years after his death. This one was
drawn during his life by Thomas Hoccleve, who may have met him.

v     Chaucer was an author, philosopher, bureaucrat, courtier (dvoran), diplomat, alchemist, and astronomer, writing a scientific treatise (pojedn├ívanie) on the astrolabe, a tool for predicting the movements of the sun and planets.

14th century, English astrolabe
v     Because of his career in government, we have many documents about his life, whereas other poets of his day are much more mysterious.

v     The name Chaucer derives from the French chausseur, meaning ‘shoemaker’, however his father was a wealthy vintner (someone who makes wine) in London.

v     He’s considered the father of English literature. He was instrumental in the rise of the English language in writing, at a time when French and Latin were standard.

v     He’s most famous for writing The Canterbury Tales.

v     In 1359 he joined the English Army as they invaded France, beginning the 100 Years War. He was captured in the Siege of Rheims, and King Edward III paid a ransom of £16 to free him. King Edward later rewarded Geoffrey with “a gallon of wine a day, for the rest of his life,” we assume for his literary works.

v     In 1366 he married Philippa (de) Roet. They had three or four children.

v     Working for the king, Chaucer travelled widely, meeting other famous writers, such as Petrarch and Boccaccio.

v     No one is really sure when he died or how. His last historical record comes from around 1400. He was the first poet to be buried in Westminster Abbey.

Poet's Corner, Westminster Abbey

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