The Canterbury Tales have enthralled readers since the fourteenth century, inspiring countless films, plays and television adaptations. Unfinished at the time of Chaucer’s death, this inimitable collection of fables, romances and sermons has ingrained itself in the English imagination.
As a motley crowd of pilgrims – from nun to knight, miller to monk, clerk to cook – journey from London to Canterbury to visit the shrine of St Thomas Becket, they pass the time by telling each other stories. Narrated in a vast variety of tones and voices – ranging from the Knight’s traditional tale of courtly romance to the bawdy wit of the Wife of Bath – the tales form a varied patchwork of English life with echoes of classical and medieval literature.
'I read Chaucer still with as much pleasure as any of our poets. He is the master of manner, of description, and the first tale-teller in the true enlivened natural way.' Alexander Pope
Read an excerpt from Canterbury Tales