Geoffrey Chaucer (c. 13421400) was born in London, the son of a wine merchant, and spent his life in royal and government service. His literary work, notable for its range of genres, helped establish the English literary tradition. <BR><BR> Barry Windeatt is a professor of English at the University of Cambridge and a fellow of Emmanuel College, Cambridge. He translated <I>The Book of Margery Kempe</I> for Penguin Classics.
The daughter of a respected merchant and public official, Margery Kempe was born in about 1373 in Norfolk, England. When Kempe was in her 20s, she began having visions in which she talked to Jesus, Mary, and some saints. In 1414, Kempe and her husband, a local official named John Kempe whom she married in 1393, embarked on a series of pilgrimages to the Holy Land and throughout Europe. At about the age of 60, Kempe dictated her spiritual autobiography to two scribes. The earliest autobiography written in English, The Book of Margery Kempe discusses every aspect of Kempe's life, including her marriage, religious conversion, and many pilgrimages. Margery Kempe is believed to have died sometime around 1440.