When we think of Geoffrey Chaucer we mainly think of his writing. Enshrined in Poets’ Corner in Westminster Abbey, he remains for many the Father of the English language and England’s greatest medieval poet.
However, Chaucer had a rich and varied life. At various times he was a clerk, courtier, customs officer, diplomat, MP, and soldier. In fact, Chaucer had to fit his writing around his many other commitments, as he described in The House of Fame:
For when thy labour doon al ys,
And hast mad alle thy rekenynges,
In stede of reste and newe thynges,
Thou goost hom to thy hous anoon,
And, also domb as any stoon,
Thou sittest at another book
Tyl fully daswed ys thy look;
(House of Fame, 652-660)
This month The National Archive’s Blog describes many of the wonderful manuscripts in their collection, which shed light upon the less familiar features of Geoffrey Chaucer’s life. You can read it on their website or by following this link.
Patience Agbabi is an award winning poet who has lectured in Creative Writing at the universities of Greenwich, Cardiff and Kent. She is currently a creative writing fellow at Oxford Brookes. Her 2014 retelling of The Canterbury Tales, Telling Tales, was nominated for the Ted Hughes Award. In 2017 Patience was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.
Patience Agbabi will be looking for lively language and sensory detail — characters who stand up off the page, journeys that seem real.