Extended Audio Sample

Download Chaucer: Ackroyd's Brief Lives Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample Chaucer: Ackroyds Brief Lives Audiobook, by Peter Ackroyd Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (762 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Peter Ackroyd Narrator: Simon Vance Publisher: Tantor Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: July 2005 ISBN: 9781400171606
Regular Price: $16.95 Add to Cart
— or —
FlexPass™ Price: $10.95$5.95$5.95 for new members!
Add to Cart learn more )

In the first in a new series of brief biographies, bestselling author Peter Ackroyd brilliantly evokes the medieval world of England and provides an incomparable introduction to the great poet's works. Geoffrey Chaucer, who died in 1400, lived a surprisingly eventful life. He served with the Duke of Clarence and with Edward III, and in 1359 was taken prisoner in France and ransomed. Through his wife, Philippa, he gained the patronage of John of Gaunt, which helped him carve out a career at Court. His posts included Controller of Customs at the Port of London, Knight of the Shire for Kent, and King's Forester. He went on numerous adventurous diplomatic missions to France and Italy. Yet he was also indicted for rape, sued for debt, and captured in battle. He began to write in the 1360s, and is now known as the father of English poetry. His Troilus and Criseyde is the first example of modern English literature, and his masterpiece, The Canterbury Tales, the forerunner of the English novel, dominated the last part of his life. In his lively style, Peter Ackroyd, one of the most acclaimed biographers and novelists writing today, brings us an eye-opening portrait, rich in drama and colorful historical detail, of a prolific, multifaceted genius. Download and start listening now!


Quotes & Awards

  • “Not so much an account of the life of Geoffrey Chaucer…as a consideration of his role in shaping England’s national identity.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • Listeners can feel the rhythm pulsing in Chaucer's words. AudioFile
  • “Listeners can feel the rhythm pulsing in Chaucer’s words.”


  • “Ackroy…vividly depicts 14th-century London and the busy life of Geoffrey Chaucer…A splendid introduction to a pivotal figure in the history of English literature.”

    Kirkus Reviews

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jim | 1/25/2014

    " My 23rd Great Grandfather told these tales.....It should be made into a film...or 23 1hour episodes....great stuff....but of course....he had a great genes... "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Shinae H | 1/21/2014

    " Wonderfully re-written in novel format and not so much poetry, which one might think would make the book less than it's original version-- uh, no, this was done increibly well and the prose reads as a poem. Brilliant. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Julia McHugh | 1/9/2014

    " interesting, I hadn't read this before and see the influence it's had on a lot of other literature I've enjoyed. Not a sit down read for me- more of periodically enjoying one story at a time. Also the only time I've ever seen the word cunt used to describe the female anatomy versus a human being as a whole. funny. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Alex | 1/8/2014

    " If this helps to introduce more people to Chaucer, that's fine. But you really don't have to be Peter Ackroyd to concoct a "Chaucer for Dummies" book like this one. Yes, it's an easy read - so is anything written in short, simple sentences. But it's missing both the music of Chaucer's verse and the elegance of Ackroyd's prose. Were it not for the indiscriminate use of modern english profanities, this'd be a great present for a fifth-grader - it's that kind of "readable book". "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 John Murdoch | 12/26/2013

    " I had to study the Prologue from Chaucer's Canterbury Tales more than 40 years ago when I was doing A Level English. It was somewhat frustrating, because it would have been interesting to have been able to read and study the rest of the stories in the cycle. With this book, Peter Ackroyd translates the stories (they are in Early English, which is virtually imposssible to read and understand if you have no background or some knowledge of this.) There are verse translations, for example, the famous Neville Coghill version (which, if my memory serves me.) we used at college. But this new version puts the stories into prose, and Ackroyd presents the stories in short-story form, thus making them more accessable to all. He does a remarkable job of it and I can highly recommend this book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Tim | 12/16/2013

    " Picked this copy of the Canterbury Tales up to get at the stories, which it does quite adequately, but it is done in prose and so something of this classic is lost. I will take the time with the poetry. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Brendan | 12/5/2013

    " Do not waste your time proving your literary mettle with ye olde translationse. This one is as funny as it was ever meant to be and includes 90 better boner jokes. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 John Hendricks | 11/21/2013

    " The best version/translation of Chaucer I've ever read...it flows smoothly, and keeps the flavour of the period...get it for your shelf, read a chapter, then put it back on the shelf and savor the moment... "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Anne | 10/10/2013

    " This retelling of Chaucer's famous work is a joy to read. I have never tried to read the original piece, but imagine it's as funny, dirty and seedy as this work. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Marc | 4/7/2013

    " I remember this book being hilarious, albeit after much classwork and homework trying to understand it. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jeanette | 8/25/2012

    " I am giving this 3 stars, basically if you want to read The Canterbury Tales, read a translation of the original. On the other hand, for younger people or those that are not ready to read Chaucer this is a great introduction to this classic. Well written and true to the original tales. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jen-Na Acree | 5/12/2012

    " By far this is the best retelling of the famed Canterbury Tales. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Meg | 11/4/2011

    " It was so fun reading this book! I'd picked this up last Christmas at home (my dad's copy). I remember reading some of these stories in an illustrated children's book, so it was fun reading the adult version. :) "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Alice Paterra | 9/3/2011

    " A fabulous re-telling, faithful and enjoyable. A Canterbury Tales for everyone, not just English majors. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Leigh-ann | 8/30/2011

    " What a fabulous surprise this book has been! I picked it up from the "New Releases" section at the library on a whim, not knowing whether or not I'd actually read it, but knowing I was never exposed to Chaucer's original in college. I'm loving it! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Cathy | 7/5/2011

    " I'm glad I finally read some version of the Canterbury Tales but I didn't think this was particulary well written or interesting. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Katie | 6/30/2011

    " Mr. Ackroyd did a very good job translating the story. It was very easy to read and I understood exactly what was happening. However, I'm not a big fan of the Tales themselves. Some of them were boring, others had graphic sex scenes, and a couple were just plain strange. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Mark | 1/13/2011

    " A quick and enjoyable read--there's not a whole lot of extant detail to build a life of Chaucer around, but Ackroyd does a nice job mixing history, literary criticism, biography, and some conjecture in a highly engaging prose style. I'll look for others in this "Brief Lives" series. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Nick | 7/29/2008

    " An excellent little biography and examination of the poet and storyteller. "

Write a Review
What is FlexPass?
  • Your first audiobook is just $5.95
  • Over 90% are at or below $12.95
  • "LOVE IT" guarantee
  • No time limits or expirations
About the Author
Author Peter Ackroyd

Peter Ackroyd has written acclaimed biographies of T. S. Eliot, Dickens, Blake, and Sir Thomas More, as well as several successful novels. He has won the Whitbread Book Award for Biography, the Royal Society of Literature’s W. H. Heinemann Award, the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, the Guardian Fiction Prize, the Somerset Maugham Award, and the South Bank Show Award for Literature.

About the Narrator

Simon Vance (a.k.a. Robert Whitfield) is an award-winning actor and an AudioFile Golden Voice with fifty-eight Earphones Awards. He has won thirteen prestigious Audie Awards and was Booklist’s very first Voice of Choice in 2008. He has narrated more than eight hundred audiobooks over almost thirty years, beginning when he was a radio newsreader for the BBC in London.