Read Chaucer by Peter Ackroyd Online


In the first in a new series of brief biographies, bestselling author Peter Ackroyd brilliantly evokes the medieval world of England and provides an incomparable introduction to the great poet’s works. Geoffrey Chaucer, who died in 1400, lived a surprisingly eventful life. He served with the Duke of Clarence and with Edward III, and in 1359 was taken prisoner in France andIn the first in a new series of brief biographies, bestselling author Peter Ackroyd brilliantly evokes the medieval world of England and provides an incomparable introduction to the great poet’s works. Geoffrey Chaucer, who died in 1400, lived a surprisingly eventful life. He served with the Duke of Clarence and with Edward III, and in 1359 was taken prisoner in France and ransomed. Through his wife, Philippa, he gained the patronage of John of Gaunt, which helped him carve out a career at Court. His posts included Controller of Customs at the Port of London, Knight of the Shire for Kent, and King's Forester. He went on numerous adventurous diplomatic missions to France and Italy. Yet he was also indicted for rape, sued for debt, and captured in battle.He began to write in the 1360s, and is now known as the father of English poetry. His Troilus and Criseyde is the first example of modern English literature, and his masterpiece, The Canterbury Tales, the forerunner of the English novel, dominated the last part of his life. In his lively style, Peter Ackroyd, one of the most acclaimed biographers and novelists writing today, brings us an eye-opening portrait, rich in drama and colorful historical detail, of a prolific, multifaceted genius....

Title : Chaucer
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780385507974
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 208 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Chaucer Reviews

  • Pete daPixie
    2019-02-07 19:11

    Every time I spy a Peter Ackroyd book on the library shelf I pick it out to read. His books on 'London-The Biography' & 'Thames-Sacred River' are splendid works. I've also read his 'Poe-A Life Cut Short' in this Brief Lives series. 'Chaucer', published in 2004, is another little gem.In just over one hundred and sixty pages it is certainly short and sweet. Ackroyd writes with assured authority and brings life to Geoffrey Chaucer, his fourteenth century courtly world and his poetic achievements. In such a concise work, and one that projects back down the centuries, it is quite remarkable how much detail this biography contains.For readers who wish for an introduction to the very first poet writing in the English language, whose genius produced a template for Shakespeare and a metrist that still influences the verse of English folk song today.

  • Roxana-Mălina Chirilă
    2019-01-30 21:07

    A decent, short biography - combined with a bit of history, short descriptions of medieval life in the period, literary influences on Chaucer, Chaucer's literary influences on others, all gathered together in a coherent, readable story.

  • Brian Willis
    2019-01-27 17:47

    Quickly and energetically surveys the times that Chaucer lived in and the works he produced. Chaucer was an insider. That is not a popular term in 2016, but in 1380, it allowed Chaucer to make a living and to see the behaviors and characters that would populate his fiction and poetry. Other than these connections, he seemed to have a lot in common surprisingly with Shakespeare. His marriage may have possibly been an unhappy one as they spent several years apart. He was involved in multiple lawsuits. He was acknowledged in his time as a literary star. Credible romantic entanglements outside of marriage are possible (though ultimately unproveable). Nevertheless, many of the details are irrecoverable.Ackroyd nails it in this "short biography" where he covers a fair amount of ground. I learned a lot of things I did not know. He hits all of the poetical works and get right to the core of what makes them work without obsessive detail like a full sized biography. In fact, the only way that you could expand this book would be to devote scores of pages to those works. Recommended for anybody interested in an easy and quick yet thorough overview of Chaucer's life.

  • Tom Metz
    2019-02-10 16:59

    Peter Ackroyd's history is the best history, brisk, personable, and plausible. This is a convincing interpretation of the thin documented record on Chaucer, a character as intriguing as any of his Canterbury pilgrims. Ackroyd does a wonderful job charting his probable path through a treacherous patch of English history.

  • Eileen
    2019-02-01 18:06

    Currently rereading Peter Ackroyd's great little bio of Chaucer--the man how seems to have done everything--in his life and in his works. Ackroyd's book brings you right into the heart of London in the 14th century; it's a fascinating look at an author, his city, and the transforming (then and now) English language.

  • Kipi
    2019-01-24 18:57

    3.5 starsInteresting. It will make certain aspects of The Canterbury Tales more understandable and does offer some thoughtful insights that were new to me. Will definitely be worth rereading at a later date after I have read Ackroyd's translation of The Canterbury Tales.

  • Mark
    2019-02-17 20:06

    A quick and enjoyable read--there's not a whole lot of extant detail to build a life of Chaucer around, but Ackroyd does a nice job mixing history, literary criticism, biography, and some conjecture in a highly engaging prose style. I'll look for others in this "Brief Lives" series.

  • Vaishali
    2019-02-04 16:12

    A fascinating account of Chaucer's privileged and acclaimed life. The book is best when Ackroyd paints details of a bustling, medieval London. It's more trying with his analysis of Chaucer's verse. Excerpts :---------“From the age of fourteen to the end of his life he remained in royal service… and acted as a royal servant for three kings and two princes.”“The urban parades and religious processions upon London’s streets, as well as the stridently colorful dress of the citizens… testify to a culture of spectacle and display.”“In the spring of 1374, Edward III bestowed upon him the gift of a daily pitcher of wine, a pitcher in this instance meaning a gallon-size jug… which Chaucer continued to receive until the day of the king’s death.”“In the suburbs of a town, he said, lurking in byways and blind alleys, where thieves and robbers instinctively live secretly and in fear…”“All that can be said with some authority is that Chaucer was personally involved in the most pressing matters of the realm. He was not a poet who happened to be a diplomat and government official; he was a government official and diplomat who in his spare time happened to write poetry.”"The English counter-offensive had begun... Chaucer was traveling to Lombardy (Italy) in order to find allies. He had with him a retinue of six officials and bodyguards.""Chaucer was at the center of events at a time of huge instability.""In 1377 Chaucer had gone to negotiate yet another of Richard's marital propositions..."Cool Quote------------"I am not concerned with literary devices, but with substantial matter." .

  • Geoff Boxell
    2019-02-07 22:11

    Although the book is brief, 163 pages, it covers Chaucer's life, inspirations and writing style well. The problem with Chaucer is, his life would appear to be intensely interesting, especially the private and secret missions he undertook for the Crown, but so little is actually known, that one has to just speculate on what he was actually doing. Auckroyd avoids making said speculation and just allows you to know that there was more to Geffrey's life than we will ever know. Given the paupacy of knowledge on Chaucer, who, indeed, in his own writings seems to want to not give much away, I think the 163 pages were just right.

  • Barbara Joan
    2019-02-05 19:59

    Very interesting regarding the history of the times. Nice illustrations. But so little is known about the man himself, only the bare bones of his life, that it doesn't make a substantial read. While this isn't Peter Ackroyd's fault, I felt I couldn't rate the experience of reading it more than okay.

  • Jerry Wall
    2019-02-07 14:57

    brief life of court functionary and poet who died in 1400

  • Lezley
    2019-02-10 20:56

    Recommended by GeoffI enjoyed this illuminating story about Chaucer. I had always thought of him as a wool customs agent living above the Aldgate Gate and writing the Canterbury Tales. I was surprised to learn how extensively travelled he was, how influenced he was by Petrarch, Boccaccio and Dante and how highly he was regarded by the King's court.

  • Eleni
    2019-02-15 21:07

    A biography of Chaucer by Peter Ackroyd, yes! I'm a little obsessed with the middle ages and the Renaissance, and thanks to one of my favorite professors, the late Norman F. Cantor, I take especial interest in biographies of medieval people, like Chaucer here, author of The Canterbury Tales. The details of much of Chaucer's life are sketchy, but the facts that Ackroyd has uncovered through the mists of time are compelling to say the least, even if it is conjecture or hearsay or whatever. This book gives you a sense of how the people lived at the time and what London was like, and the court and European diplomacy. It's all fascinating if you love medieval and literary history. It is a slim volume, not intimidating at all even for those with only a passing interest in the subject.

  • David Powell
    2019-02-08 16:59

    I enjoyed Ackroyd's biography of Chaucer, perhaps not as much as his wonderful book on Shakespeare. But the two books need to be mentioned together in that the two men shaped the "Englishness" of English literature more than any others. Perhaps somewhat strange is that there is a relative wealth of documentation on Chaucer who lived two centuries before Shakespeare for whom very little documentation exists. Though Chaucer was a much more public figure and an adjunct to the royal court, that so much material still exists in regard to his daily doings is still amazing. Additionally, both of these great shapers of the destiny of our literature were non-intrusive in their writings. Virtually none of either's writings reveal the man behind them.

  • Garrett Cash
    2019-01-22 20:09

    Ackroyd's writing can sometimes seem too lofty for its subject, but he succeeds at providing the details of Chaucer's life in a short space. He even manages to fit some literary analysis in there, which does not seem to be his greatest subject. Perhaps he did not have more space to write. Anyhow, I learned enough from this book to know that I want more.

  • Sean de la Rosa
    2019-02-02 21:58

    This is relatively small and informative volume on the man considered Shakespeare's forerunner. Overall? It was okay. It does highlight some very interesting facts of the era - circa 13 to 1400's. The plague was rife during those times. Give it a go if you are interested in historical reads on classic fiction writers.

  • Helen
    2019-02-20 15:16

    Nice short biography, as far as it is possible to do one with the surviving evidence. I had forgotten quite a lot of the facts of Chaucer's life, particularly his career (if I ever knew them!) Mixture of social history, literary criticism, and history of the fourteenth century, especially London and the court.

  • John Isaacson
    2019-02-02 14:54

    Fascinating biography of Chaucer's life as a diplomat, poet, member of the courts of Edward III and Richard II, husband, resident of London, and traveller in Europe. Ackroyd takes other accounts and speculations about Chaucer's life into his survey and views them judiciously.

  • Shawn Thrasher
    2019-02-16 19:15

    Short but meaty biography. I like Ackroyd's writing style; it's easy to read, interesting, and far from dry. This inspired me to read The Portable Chaucer.

  • Jim Dudley
    2019-02-14 14:16

    This is a short and intimate biography of Geoffrey Chaucer. I enjoyed it immensely, it was engaging and covered his personal life, his working life, his connections with royalty and of course his poetry.

  • Taylor Kniphfer
    2019-01-29 15:47

    A very small-yet very informative biography of that great English poet, Geoffery Chaucer. Very readable and very good at describing a man who created some the greatest characters in the history of the Western world and still seemed very quiet and calm in his personal live. Marvelous.

  • Jo
    2019-02-09 20:10

    At 163 pages long, this was a short biography of Chaucer, one of England's most celebrated writers. It shows how little is actually known about his life but does highlight some of his key moments. Interestingly written and easy enough to whizz through in a short period of time.

  • Steve
    2019-01-24 17:17


  • Nick
    2019-01-29 20:56

    An excellent little biography and examination of the poet and storyteller.

  • Olga Vannucci
    2019-02-02 22:15

    First English author,One Geoffrey Chaucer.

  • Clifton
    2019-02-16 15:02

    A brief but fine introduction to Chaucer's life and times.

  • Pat
    2019-02-03 15:13

    Terrific introduction to Chaucer's life.

  • Peter
    2019-02-06 16:59

    Review to come

  • Tina
    2019-01-25 13:48

    Loved this book! So interesting and easy to read. Came away knowing so much more about Geoffrey Chaucer who I am really interested in.

  • Krys park
    2019-02-16 21:15

    Fun writing style. Great, quick read about the father of the English novel.