“The Canterbury Tales”

April 17, 2022

On April 17, 1387, the characters in “The Canterbury Tales” by Geoffrey Chaucer began their pilgrimage to the titular city of Canterbury. Written in Middle English, “The Canterbury Tales” comprises twenty-four stories written largely in verse and centers on a group of pilgrims as they travel together from London to Canterbury.

Seeking to visit the Saint Thomas Becket shrine at Canterbury Cathedral, the tales are told from the perspective of the pilgrims as part of a storytelling contest. The prize for winning the contest is a free meal at The Tabard, an inn that was located in Southwark in Central London, upon their return.

Born in London, England, in the 1340s, Geoffrey Chaucer was a famed poet, writer, and civil servant later dubbed the “father of English literature.” “The Canterbury Tales” is widely considered to be his magnum opus or masterpiece. Aside from his great contributions to English literature, he was also an accomplished philosopher, astronomer, and diplomat. His resting place is in Westminster Abbey, London, in a commemorated section known as the Poets’ Corner.

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