Geoffrey Chaucer


'Of old the bard who struck the noblest strains
Great Geoffrey Chaucer, now this tomb retains.
If for the period of his life you call,
The signs are under that will note you all.
In the year of our Lord 1400, on the 25th day of October.
Death is the repose of cares.
N. Brigham charged himself with these in the name of the Muses


Geoffrey Chaucer is buried in 'Poets' Corner', Westminster Abbey, London, England.

Tomb of Geoffrey Chaucer

He was the first poet to be buried in the Abbey. However, this was because he had been Clerk of Works to the Palace of Westminster and not because he had written The Canterbury Tales.

Chaucer was buried at the entrance to St. Benedicts Chapel in the South Transept of the Abbey. Originally the only memorial to him was a leaden plate hung on an adjacent pillar. In 1556 a more magnificent tomb was constructed by the poet Nicholas Brigham. This Purbeck marble monument may have been brought from a dissolved monastery.

Chaucer Inscription.
Photograph by Mike Reed

And smale foweles maken melodye,
That slepen al the nyght with open ye
(So priketh hem nature in hir corages);
Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages.

From The Canterbury Tales, General Prologue

Chaucer's wife was the sister of John of Gaunt's third wife and as a result John of Gaunt became Chaucer's patron for many years.

Chaucer held many positions in the court of  Richard II and frequently travelled abroad on diplomatic missions. While visiting Italy it is possible that he met Boccaccio (the author of The Decameron) and Petrarch (the inventor of the sonnet.)

The Canterbury Tales were written towards the end of Chaucer's life and took twelve years to complete. Originally he was planning to write 120 separate tales but succeeded in writing only 24.

The official date of Chaucer's death is given as 25th October 1400 however, there is considerable conjecture surrounding this date. It is also unclear how he died and some have speculated that he may have been murdered.  

Read the Wife of Bath's Tale






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