Geoffrey Chaucer (c. 1340-1400) was the first notable English author. Chaucer was a Renaissance man before the term was invented. In addition to being a poet and story teller of considerable ability, he was also a diplomat, administrator, soldier, and courtier. Of relatively humble origins, Chaucer rose through his own talents, and by virtue of being married to the sister of a Royal Person's girlfriend. For much of his life he served Edward III, while his wife was lady-in-waiting to the queen. He undertook important diplomatic missions to the Low Countries and Italy (where he met Petrarch while negotiating a royal marriage). He served in arms in France, being for a time a prioner of war (he was ransomed by the king himself, an honor in itself), served as Controller of the Customs for London, Knight of the Shire for Kent, member of Parliament, and much else besides. Meanwhile he produced a large number of translations, poems, and stories, the most notable of which are The Canterbury Tales At the height of his career Chaucer and his wife were making about 70 pounds a year in money (some 42,000 ducats, an upper middle class income), while living in an apartment granted by the king, as well as enjoying regular gifts of wine (a gallon a day of the good stuff, which they could drink or sell as they chose), clothing, and other benefits. Chaucer wrote for pleasure, as a hobby. His day job was being a government official.