This article surveys the critical history of scholarship on Philippa Chaucer, the wife of the famous English poet. Beginning with the late Victorian work of Frederick Furnivall and ending with contemporary biographies of Geoffrey Chaucer, this article argues that male critics have constructed their depictions of Philippa Chaucer with little reference to historical fact. Instead, male critics have formed an intellectual community with one another (and with the medieval poet) by the act of denigrating Philippa, with an appeal to a supposedly universal knowledge about disagreeable women and their effect on men of genius. From harpy to harlot to cold careerist, Philippa Chaucer's life and relationship with her husband have proved flexible media for male critics to manipulate. The biographical evaluations published over the last century therefore have much to reveal about the intellectual priorities and gender prejudices of her husband's critics.


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pp. 270-291
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