Chaucer’s Claim to Fame: Entrepreneurial Skills Seen in Geoffrey Chaucer’s Life
Chaucer is not some unknown literary author who is known only by a dozen people in the English field. Besides Shakespeare, Chaucer is probably one of the most well-known contributors to English literature, if not the most well-known. His name is instantly recognizable, and many a high school student learned of him through the oftentimes-painful reading of his most famous work, The Canterbury Tales. Chaucer’s work is an extremely important text in terms of the evolution of the English language; The Canterbury Tales set itself apart from other literary works at the time by being one of the first pieces of literature to be written in English instead of French, and its extreme popularity spurred the creations of even more English literature, allowing the language to regain its prominence and evolve into the English we know today (“Chaucer”; Kemmer). Today, it’s the most prominent example of Middle English work, and is studied not just for its literary worth but as evidence of what the language was like at the time. The Canterbury Tales and Chaucer’s importance are extreme, and the author enjoyed his fame during his life as well as long after, largely due to his abilities to make sound decisions, take risks, learned to learn as a professional, and transfer knowledge, skills that people even today can utilize to be successful.
Chaucer’s life was well-documented for someone of the time, and sound decisions made early in his life allowed him to gain positions of importance at a relatively young age. Born in 1343 to a wine merchant father, there is indication that Chaucer’s family was upper class and very profitable (Polland). With his family having such a social standing, Chaucer was able to go into service to a high-standing noblewoman in his teen years, and seemed to make a presence for himself in the court circle, as the king himself later employed Chaucer (Pollard). This decision to get close to the royal family, as well as marrying the queen’s lady-in-waiting, Philippa de Roet, gave Chaucer a position in the nobility that he never would have had access to with just his family’s connections, awarding him both financial stability and publicity for his works (Pollard). Chaucer’s achieved goals and sound decisions allowed him access to the ability to publish poetry and literature, something only accessible to the elite, and gave him the ability to publish Canterbury Tales and make it the popular piece of literature that endured for centuries.
However, despite Chaucer’s standing, publishing Canterbury Tales was a risk; specifically, the risk was in publishing the book in English. During the time of the story’s publication, English was almost exclusively spoken by the lower classes, while French and Latin were the language of the bourgeoisie and nobility (Kemmer). While this was slowly changing, English was spoken almost entirely by the...