<B>In the poet's corner</B> Peter Ackroyd is well known on both sides of the Atlantic as a master of both history and biography, for works such as <I>London: The Biography</I> and the novel <I>The Clerkenwell Tales</I>. Ackroyd's new project is a biography series entitled Ackroyd Brief Lives, appropriately beginning with <B>Chaucer</B>. In this short biography, Ackroyd elucidates Chaucer's work and times and also reveals how significant a public figure Chaucer was, serving as a diplomat and courtier for a number of monarchs.

<B>Chaucer</B> is a small volume, the perfect size to keep at hand for quick and easy fact checking. This is the book you pick up when you need someone to simply and concisely explain exactly what Chaucer did (or rather, might have been doing) that summer in 1370 when he was sent by the king to Italy with special letters of protection against the Italian government. Chaucer is old-school biography, focusing on the deep religiosity of Chaucer's works and the years spent in the service of the Crown, only speculating outside the standard and academically approved facts of Chaucer's life when absolutely necessary to maintain the cherished image of a poet who is worldly yet innocent of the vices and human flaws he lambasted so successfully in his writing.

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