We don't like to throw around proclamations like, "He was the father of English literature." But in this case, it's deserved. Geoffrey Chaucer (1343-1400), the infamous poet from the Middle Ages, is best known for his epic poem The Canterbury Tales (1478). Troilus and Criseyde is his landmark poem retelling the Siege of Troy which, as we all know, was adapted by William Shakespeare in his play Troilus and Cressida (1609). Chaucer employed a variety of genre, tone, and styles in his prolific writings, but he consistently treated his readers to his compelling sense of humor, balanced with important philosophical questions, of course. He invented the rhyme royal and used the five-stress line (what became known as the iambic pentameter).
Our favorite Chaucer quote: "The greatest scholars are not usually the wisest people."
The Canterbury Tales is widely studied as an exemplar text by students around the world.