Biography for Canterbury Tales


Random House, Inc.
Geoffrey Chaucer (1343-1400), often referred to as "the grandfather of English literature," is invariably ranked with Shakespeare and Milton as one of the three greatest poets of the English language. His masterpiece, The Canterbury Tales, has been a touchstone for English-language poetry for more than half a millennium and is one of the most widely read works in the Western canon.

Burton Raffel is a translator, poet, and scholar whose major translations include Beowulf, Don Quijote, The Red and the Black, and Gargantua and Pantagruel. He has also annotated several Shakespeare plays for Yale University Press. He was the Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Arts and Humanities and emeritus professor of English at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette until 2003. He lives in Louisiana.

John Miles Foley is a leading Chaucer scholar specializing in medieval studies, epics, and the oral tradition. A professor at the University of Missouri, he is the director of the Center for Studies in Oral Tradition and has written or edited eighteen books. He lives in Columbus, Missouri.

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Random House, Inc.
Geoffrey Chaucer was born in London about 1340, the son of a well-to-do and well-connected wine merchant. In 1360, after his capture while fighting in the French wars, Edward III paid his ransom, and later Chaucer married Philippa de Roet, a maid of honor to the queen and sister-in-law to John of Gaunt, Chaucer's patron.

Chaucer's oeuvre is commonly divided into three periods: the French (to 1372), consisting of such works as a translation of the Roman de la Rose and The Book of the Duchess; the Italian (1372-1385), including The House of Fame, The Parliament of Fowls and Troilus and Criseyde; and the English (1385-1400), culminating in The Canterbury Tales. In 1400, he died, leaving 24 of the apparently 120 tales he had planned for his final masterpiece. Chaucer became the first of England's great men to be buried in the Poet's Corner of Westminster Abbey.

Peter G. Beidler is the Lucy G. Moses Distinguished Professor of English at Lehigh University. He is the author of a dozen books and more than 150 articles. In the summer of 2005 he directed a seminar for high school teachers on Chaucer's Canterbury Comedies (the seminar was supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities). He and his wife Anne have four children.


From the Paperback edition.

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