Geoffrey Chaucer

Geoffrey Chaucer | First Editions

1343 - 1400

Geoffrey Chaucer (c. 1343 – 25 October 1400) is known as the 'Father of English literature'. Chaucer is widely considered the greatest English poet of the Middle Ages, and was the first poet to be buried in Poets' Corner of Westminster Abbey. Among his many works are The Book of the DuchessThe House of FameThe Legend of Good Women and Troilus and Criseyde. He is best known today for The Canterbury Tales. Chaucer's work is seen as integral inlegitimising and popularising the literary use of the Middle English vernacular, at a time when the dominant literary languages in England were French and Latin.

Chaucer is known for metrical innovation; he invented the rhyme royal, and was one of the first English poets to use the five-stress line (a decasyllabic cousin to the iambic pentameter) in his work. The arrangement of these five-stress lines into rhyming couplets, first seen in his The Legend of Good Women, has become one of the standard poetic forms in English. Moreover, his humorous use of writing phoenetically to convey the 'funny' accent of a regional dialect has since been replicated repeatedly, and not just for comic effect; the device has gone on to influence celebrated writers such as Anthony Burgess and Irvine Welsh, among countless others.

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