BIOGRAPHY                       

[Cross-references included at the bottom of the page]

 

64. BLAND, D.S. "Chaucer and the Inns of Court: A Re-examination." English Studies 33 (1952):145-55.

Clarifies the question of Chaucer's possible education at the Inns of Court by assessing historical records which pertain to the nature and development of the Inns. That Chaucer was educated in such an "embryo university" is "attractive" and "plausible," but not certain.

65. BREWER, DEREK S. Chaucer and His World. New York: Dodd, Mead & Co., 1978, 224 pp.

A biography of Chaucer and a social history of his age that presents solid information and a remarkably rich atmosphere. Reconstructs Chaucer as a sensitive man at the vanguard of his culture, documenting his early life and civil career, reflecting on his poetic vocation through impressionistic criticism of his works, and occasionally indulging in psychoanalysis of him. Generous illustrations illuminate fourteenth-century England and the growing awareness of "inner life" which Chaucer's poetry captured. An informed and readable biography by a prolific Chaucerian.

66. BREWER, DEREK S. An Introduction to Chaucer. London: Longman, 1984, 270 pp.

An introduction to Chaucer and his poetry, sketching the poet's psychology as reflected in his life and art. Surveys Chaucer's schooling, his civil career, and the major literary and intellectual traditions of his time. Presents Chaucer as an "Expositor" in his own poetry--a contribution to the ongoing discussion of narrative persona. Recognizes various impersonated voices and a "general Chaucerian" voice even early in the poet's career, but rejects the notion of a consistent background narrator as "novelistic"--unknown to Chaucer and therefore inappropriate to Chaucer criticism. The narrator of Troilus and Criseyde changes from book to book and the voices of Canterbury Tales shift with "Gothic" multiplicity. Chronological survey of the poetry touches on many traditional issues of theme and poetic technique.

67. BURROW, J.A. "The Poet as Petitioner." Studies in the Age of Chaucer 3 (1981):61-75.

Surveys autobiographical petitions in English poetry from Cynewulf to Chaucer and Gower, contrasting the sincere requests for aid from God or patron in the early poems with the "playfulness...of the Ricardian poet in his role as petitioner." Examines Chaucer's petitionary role in Lenvoy to Scogan, Legend of Good Women, and House of Fame.

68. CROW, MARTIN M., and OLSON, CLAIR C., eds. Chaucer Life- records. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1966, 755 pp.

The records of Chaucer's life collected by J.M. Manly and Edith Rickert from civil, ecclesiastical, and private sources, organized under thirty-one subject headings. Each section includes the appropriate records, textual description of these records, and discussion of the materials as they pertain to Chaucer's "career as a courtier, diplomat, and civil servant." The texts, with their marginalia, are printed in their original French and Latin (one in Spanish), edited moderately for modern use. The commentary explains the references in the records and provides historical and social context. The editors make no attempt to resolve controversial issues but they do identify controversies in thorough footnotes. The appendix lists the records chronologically and the index cites persons and places.

69. GALWAY, MARGARET. "Geoffrey Chaucer, J.P. and M.P." Modern Language Review 36 (1941):1-36.

Examines in detail the political and social circumstances of Chaucer's commission as a Justice of the Peace, his appointment as Clerk of the King's Works, and his election as Knight of the Shire, clarifying Chaucer's late relations with the royal family and explaining the conditions and status of his political appointments.

70. GARDNER, JOHN [CHAMPLIN]. The Life and Times of Chaucer. New York: Alfred A Knopf, 1977, 347 pp.

Speculatively reconstructs Chaucer's personal and professional biography from fourteenth-century social and intellectual history, Chaucer's Life-Records (entry 68), and his poetry, presenting his life through imaginative, narrative episodes. Where possible, biographical fiction is grounded in historical fact; where not possible, admiration for the poet or interpretation of his poetry underlie confident conjecture. A "novelistic" biography by a respected novelist and solid critic of Chaucer.

71. HULBERT, JAMES ROOT. Chaucer's Official Life. Menasha, Wis.: G. Banta Publishing Co., 1912. Reprint. New York: Phaeton Press, 1970, 96 pp.

Documents Chaucer's intricate political life from historical records, identifying those who held appointments and annuities similar to his, and clarifying the nature of his offices. Challenges the traditional view that John of Gaunt was Chaucer's patron, arguing that Chaucer's career reflects "no exceptional favors" and that he was politically aligned at times with factions that opposed Gaunt. Also challenges the assumption that Chaucer had financial problems late in life, showing how all available evidence suggests that "Chaucer led a prosperous and important life."

72. KANE, GEORGE. The Autobiographical Fallacy in Chaucer and Langland Studies. London: H.K. Lewis & Co., 1965, 20 pp.

Argues that the oral delivery, close-knit audiences, and dream-vision conventions of fourteenth century verse encouraged poets to identify themselves with their narrators. But such identification is part of a literary game, especially in Chaucer's and Langland's poetry which is clearly ironic and therefore can not help us establish the events of their lives.

73. KERN, ALFRED ALLAN. The Ancestry of Chaucer. Baltimore: Lord Baltimore Press, 1906, 178 pp.

Explores historical records and early scholarship to trace the meaning and use of the name "Chaucer," establish the genealogy of the poet for four generations, and detail the lives of his parents and grandparents. Provides some information about more distant relatives and family connections, and appends forty previously unpublished documents pertinant to Chaucer family history.

74. KRAUSS, RUSSELL. "Chaucerian Problems: Especially the Petherton Forestship and the Question of Thomas Chaucer." In Three Chaucer Studies. Edited by Carleton Brown. New York: Oxford University Press, 1932, 182 pp.

Basic biographical information which establishes the date of Chaucer's marriage to Phillipa "as early as 1366," clarifies the consanguinity of Philippa and Kathryn Swynford, distinguishes between Geoffrey and Thomas Chaucer's foresterships in Somerset, and supports the tradition that Thomas was John of Gaunt's bastard son by Philippa. Derives evidence from contemporary heraldry, public records of Geoffrey and Thomas's careers, and early biographies. Contrasts Ruud (entry 76).

75. LELAND, VIRGINIA E. "Chaucer as Commissioner of Dikes and Ditches, 1390." Michigan Academician 14 (1981):71-79.

Details the nature of Chaucer's resposibilities as Commissioner of Dikes and Ditches, discusses other men who held the position in his time, and suggests echoes of his experience as Commissioner in the characters and details of Canterbury Tales.

76. RUUD, MARTIN B. "VII. Thomas Chaucer: Son of the Poet." In Thomas Chaucer. Studies in Language and Literature, no. 9. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1926. Reprint. New York: AMS Press, 1972, pp. 68- 86.

Challenges interpretations of the evidence that suggest John of Gaunt was the father of Thomas Chaucer, concluding that his mother was "a Roet...the sister of Katherine Swynford" and that there is no "single good reason" for believing Thomas was not the son of Geoffrey. Contrasts Krauss (entry 74).

77. WAGENKNECHT, EDWARD. The Personality of Chaucer. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1968, 168 pp.

Attempts to describe Chaucer's personality by gleaning from his poetry evidence of his sensibilities and attitudes, aligning them where possible with biographical background and scholarly opinion. Surveys Chaucer's sensitivity to nature, society, and the arts and sciences, typifying him as a man of enthusiasm and learning. Documents the poet's orthodox view of chivalry and his awareness of social change, paralleling these with his poetic conventionality and willingness to experiment. Considers Chaucer's attitudes towards love and sex by examining the characters of Criseyde and the Wife of Bath, evidence from Chaucer's life, and the decorum of the fabliaux. Confronts the issue of Chaucer's supposed religious skepticism, and finds him, as in all things, thoughtful but orthodox, capable of satire without losing sympathy.

See also entries 4-7, 11-12, 26, 45, 47, 55, 58-60, 63, 83, 86, 257, 350, 688, 689. For occasional verse: 88, 357, 819, 825, 835, 839, 847-48, 873, 889, 907-08, 917, 920.

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