The most complete of all remaining surviving fragments sections of The Canterbury Tales, the First Fragment contains some of Chaucer's most widely enjoyed work. In The General Prologue, Chaucer introduces his pilgrims through a set of speaking portraits, drawn with a clarity that makes no attempt to conceal their peculiarities. The four tales that follow - those of the Knight, Miller, Reeve and Cook - reveal a wide variety of human preoccupations: whether chivalrous, romantic or simply sexual. Brilliantly bawdy and subtly complex, each of these tales is alive with Chaucer's skills as a poet, storyteller and creator of comedy.
Born in London to a wine merchant, Geoffrey Chaucer (c1340-1400) became a royal servant and travelled as a diplomat to France, Spain and Italy. As well as being famed for his translations, his own work includes Troilus and Criseyde, The Book of the Duchess and The Legend of Good Women Edited with an introduction and glosses by Michael Alexander