Geoffrey Chaucer, (1342/43-1400), the outstanding English poet before Shakespeare and “the first finder of our language.” His The Canterbury Tales ranks as one of the greatest poetic works in English. He also contributed importantly in the second half of the 14th century to the management of public affairs as courtier, diplomat, and civil servant. In that career he was trusted and aided by three successive kings—Edward III, Richard II, and Henry IV. But it is his avocation—the writing of poetry—for which he is remembered.
His great opus, The Canterbury Tales, concerns a group of pilgrims traveling to see the shrine of Thomas Beckett. The various characters tell stories as they travel. The Arthurian themed Wife of Bath's Tale is among the most popular.