Books

The Wife of Bath

Geoffrey Chaucer

'Those husbands that I had,
Three of them were good and two were bad.
The three that I call "good" were rich and old...'

One of the most bawdy, entertaining and popular stories from The Canterbury Tales.

Introducing Little Black Classics: 80 books for Penguin's 80th birthday. Little Black Classics celebrate the huge range and diversity of Penguin Classics, with books from around the world and across many centuries. They take us from a balloon ride over Victorian London to a garden of blossom in Japan, from Tierra del Fuego to 16th-century California and the Russian steppe. Here are stories lyrical and savage; poems epic and intimate; essays satirical and inspirational; and ideas that have shaped the lives of millions.

Geoffrey Chaucer (c.1343-1400). Chaucer's works available in Penguin Classics are The Canterbury Tales, Love Visions and Troilus and Criseyde.

The Canterbury Tales

Geoffrey Chaucer (and others)

Part of Penguin's beautiful hardback Clothbound Classics series, designed by the award-winning Coralie Bickford-Smith, these delectable and collectible editions are bound in high-quality colourful, tactile cloth with foil stamped into the design.

In The Canterbury Tales Chaucer created one of the great touchstones of English literature, a masterly collection of chivalric romances, moral allegories and low farce. A story-telling competition between a group of pilgrims from all walks of life is the occasion for a series of tales that range from the Knight's account of courtly love and the ebullient Wife of Bath's Arthurian legend, to the ribald anecdotes of the Miller and the Cook.

The Canterbury Tales

Geoffrey Chaucer

In The Canterbury Tales Chaucer created one of the great touchstones of English literature, a masterly collection of chivalric romances, moral allegories and low farce. A story-telling competition between a group of pilgrims from all walks of life is the occasion for a series of tales that range from the Knight's account of courtly love and the ebullient Wife of Bath's Arthurian legend, to the ribald anecdotes of the Miller and the Cook.

The Canterbury Tales: A retelling by Peter Ackroyd

Geoffrey Chaucer (and others)

Making a major part of England's literary heritage accessible to a new audience, Peter Ackroyd's The Canterbury Tales: A Retelling renders Geoffrey Chaucer's timeless tales in lucid, compelling modern English prose, with illustrations by Nick Bantock in Penguin Classics.

On a pilgrimage to Canterbury, a group of travellers agree to a storytelling competition. As they make their way on the road, they drink, laugh, flirt, argue and try to outdo each other with their tales. From the exuberant Wife of Bath's Arthurian legend to the Miller's worldly, ribald farce, these tales can be taken as a mirror of fourteenth-century London. Incorporating every style of medieval narrative - bawdy anecdote, allegorical fable and courtly romance - the tales encompass a blend of universal human themes, retold here for our times by bestselling author Peter Ackroyd.

The edition also includes an introduction by Ackroyd, detailing some of the historical background to Chaucer and the Tales, and why he has been inspired to translate them for a new generation of readers.

Geoffrey Chaucer (c.1343-1400) was an English author, poet, philosopher, courtier and diplomat, best known as the author of The Canterbury Tales. Chaucer is credited as being the first author to demonstrate the artistic legitimacy of the vernacular English language. The first poet to have been buried in the Poet's Corner of Westminster Abbey, his other works include The House of Fame, Troilus and Criseyde and The Book of the Duchess.

Peter Ackroyd (b. 1949) is an award-winning writer and historian. Formerly literary editor of The Spectator and chief book reviewer for the The Times, he is the author of novels such as Hawksmoor (1985) and The House of Doctor Dee (1993), as well as non-fiction including Dickens: Public Life and Private Passion (2002), London: The Biography (2000), and Thames: Sacred River (2007).

'Ackroyd's retelling is compulsive, bold and rare ... as fresh as new paint'
Observer

'The only version to read'
Time Out

The Canterbury Tales

Geoffrey Chaucer (and others)

This selection of the best-loved and most frequently studied of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales provides a fascinating introduction to one of the great cornerstones of English literature. The General Prologue gives vivid character sketches of the colourful band of pilgrims who gather at a London inn on their way to Canterbury, while the nine tales chosen range from the noble Knight’s story of rivalry in love to the boastful Pardoner’s moral treatise, from the exuberant Wife of Bath’s Arthurian legend to the Miller’s worldly, ribald farce. Incorporating every style of Medieval narrative – bawdy anecdote, allegorical fable and courtly romance – the tales brought together here encompass the blend of universal human themes and individual personal detail that have fascinated readers for over 600 years.

For this selection the original fourteenth-century Middle English is presented with a facing-page modern prose translation. This volume also contains a chronology, further reading and an introduction examining Chaucer’s life and work and the literary influences on the Tales.

Translated and edited with an introduction by Colin Wilcockson

Love Visions

Geoffrey Chaucer (and others)

Spanning Chaucer's working life, these four poems build on the medieval convention of 'love visions' - poems inspired by dreams, woven into rich allegories about the rituals and emotions of courtly love. In The Book of the Duchess, the most traditional of the four, the dreamer meets a widower who has loved and lost the perfect lady, and The House of Fame describes a dream journey in which the poet meets with classical divinities. Witty, lively and playful, The Parliament of Birds details an encounter with the birds of the world in the Garden of Nature as they seek to meet their mates, while The Legend of Good Women sees Chaucer being censured by the God of Love, and seeking to make amends, for writing poems that depict unfaithful women. Together, the four create a marvellously witty, lively and humane self-portrait of the poet.

The Canterbury Tales

Geoffrey Chaucer (and others)

At the Tabard Inn in Southwark, a jovial group of pilgrims assembles, including an unscrupulous Pardoner, a noble-minded Knight, a ribald Miller, the lusty Wife of Bath, and Chaucer himself. As they set out on their journey towards the shrine of Thomas a Becket in Canterbury, each character agrees to tell a tale. The twenty-four tales that follow are by turns learned, fantastic, pious, melancholy and lewd, and together offer an unrivalled glimpse into the mind and spirit of medieval England.

Troilus and Criseyde

Geoffrey Chaucer (and others)

Set against the epic backdrop of the battle of Troy, Troilus and Criseyde is an evocative story of love and loss. When Troilus, the son of Priam, falls in love with the beautiful Criseyde, he is able to win her heart with the help of his cunning uncle Pandarus, and the lovers experience a brief period of bliss together. But the pair are soon forced apart by the inexorable tide of war and - despite their oath to remain faithful - Troilus is ultimately betrayed. Regarded by many as the greatest love poem of the Middle Ages, Troilus and Criseyde skilfully combines elements of comedy and tragedy to form an exquisite meditation on the fragility of romantic love, and the fallibility of humanity.

The Canterbury Tales

Geoffrey Chaucer (and others)

A lively, humorous retelling for children of Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, by award-winning author Geraldine McCaughrean.

The Canterbury Tales

Geoffrey Chaucer (and others)

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.

Biography

Geoffrey Chaucer was born in London in about 1342. He was valued highly by Edward III, who paid part of his ransom when he was captured fighting in France in 1360. He rose in royal employment, becoming a Justice of the Peace and was buried in 1400 in Westminster Abbey.