Geoffrey Chaucer was born in London in around 1342, the son of a wine merchant, and his life was spent in royal government service, therefore his career is particularly extensively documented. By 1357, Chaucer had become a page to the bride of Prince Lionel, Edward III's second son, and it was while in the prince's service that Chaucer was ransomed when he was arrested in France in 1359-60. Philippa, Chaucer's wife, whom he married around. Katherine Swynford, the mistress (c. 1365), was her sister. 1370) and John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster's third wife (1396), whose first wife Blanche (d.
The Book of the Duchess, Chaucer's ealrist great poem, is dedicated to her. From 1366 and 1378, Chaucer worked as a customs controller on wool in the port of London, although he also traveled overseas on official business, including two visits to Italy in 1372-3 and 1378. The effect of Chaucer's interaction with Italian literature may be felt in the late 1370s and early 1380s poetry he created, such as The House of Fame, The Parliament of Fowls, and a version of The Knight's Tale, and it reaches its pinnacle in Troilus and Criseyde. Chaucer was a member of parliament for Kent in 1386, but he resigned his customs job the following year, while he was appointed Clerk of the King's Works in 1389 (resigning in 1391).
After finishing Troilus and translating Boethius' De consolatione philosophiae into English prose, Chaucer began his Legend of Good Ladies. He worked on his most ambitious effort, The Canterbury Tales, in the 1390s, but it remained unfinished when he died. Chaucer rented a residence in the Westminster Abbey grounds in 1399, but died in 1400 and was buried there.