Bernard O'Donoghue was born in Cullen, Co Cork in 1945 and joined Wadham to teach Medieval English and Modern Irish Poetry. He has published six collections of poetry, including Gunpowder, winner of the 1995 Whitbread Prize for Poetry, and Farmers Cross (2011). He has published a verse translation of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (Penguin Classics 2006), and is currently translating Piers Plowman for Faber.
Geoffrey Chaucer’s observant wit, his narrative skill and characterization, his linguistic invention, have been a well from which the language's greatest writers have drawn: Shakespeare, Pope, Austen, Dickens among them. A courtier, a trade emissary and diplomat, he fought in the Hundred Years War and was captured and ransomed; his marriage into the family of John of Gaunt ensured his influence in political society. For more than a decade, he was engaged on his most famous work of all, The Canterbury Tales, until his death around 1400; there is no record of the precise date or the circumstances of his demise, despite vivid and colourful speculation.
Reading Chaucer’s Poems: A Guided Selection is published by Faber and will be available from 18 August, for £14.99.