In The Canterbury Tales Chaucer created one of the great touchstones of English literature, a masterly collection of chivalric romances, moral allegories and low farce. A story-telling competition between a group of pilgrims from all walks of life is the occasion for a series of tales that range from the Knight's account of courtly love and the ebullient Wife of Bath's Arthurian legend, to the ribald anecdotes of the Miller and the Cook.
Geoffrey Chaucer was born in London in about 1342. He was valued highly by Edward III, who paid part of his ransom when he was captured fighting in France in 1360. He rose in royal employment, becoming a Justice of the Peace and was buried in 1400 in Westminster Abbey. Nevill Coghill's translation of Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde into modern English is also published by Penguin Classics.