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Author Information: Geoffrey Chaucer

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Geoffrey Chaucer (c. 1343-1400), the son of a well-to-do London wine-merchant with court connections, began his career as a page in the household of Elizabeth, Countess of Ulster, wife of Edward III's son Lionel, Duke of Clarence. As a squire serving in Edward III's army when the king invaded France in 1359, he was captured at the siege of Rheims, and subsequently ransomed. A few years later he married Philippa de Roet, a lady-in-waiting to Constance of Castile, the second wife of John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster. It was to commemorate John of Gaunt's first wife, Blanche, that Chaucer composed in 1368 The Book of the Duchess, the earliest work that can confidently be attributed to him. He served in various campaigns in France and Spain, and twice visited Italy as a negotiator on important diplomatic missions. By the age of 31 he had been appointed Controller of Customs and Subsidy of Wools, Skins, and Hides in the port of London, a very responsible post which he held for twelve years. During this period he found time to write such major and innovatory works as The House of Fame, The Parliament of Fowls, and Troilus and Cressida. In 1386 he became a Justice of the Peace and Knight of the Shire to represent Kent in Parliament. Soon afterwards his wife died, and he devoted the rest of his life to composing the Canturbury Tales, a project that was never completed. He died in 1400 and was buried in Westminster Abbey.





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