This article will attempt to take stock of what we know about Chaucer’s earliest audiences, that is, about uses of and references to his work made during his lifetime. Relevant new research on manuscript use and ownership has been included in the case of Thomas Hoccleve and the scrivener Thomas Spencer. In addition to various named addressees of Chaucer’s works – Peter Bukton, Henry Scogan and Philip de la Vache – this brief survey lists contemporary references to Chaucer and his works in the poetry of John Gower, Eustache Deschamps, John Clanvowe and Thomas Usk.
Sebastian Sobecki is Professor of Medieval English Literature and Culture at Groningen University. His first book, The Sea and Medieval English Literature (Brewer), appeared in 2008, and his second monograph, Unwritten Verities: The Making of England’s Vernacular Legal Culture, 1463–1549 (Notre Dame University Press) in 2015. He is working on The Material Politics of England’s Fifteenth-Century Literature (Oxford University Press) and completing two volumes of a new edition of Hakluyt’s Principal Navigations (Oxford University Press), as well as co-editing three books: Medieval English Travel (Oxford University Press), with Anthony Bale; A Companion to John Skelton (Brewer), with John Scattergood; and, with Candace Barrington, The Cambridge Companion to Medieval Law and Literature (Cambridge University Press). His articles have appeared in Speculum, Studies in the Age of Chaucer, Renaissance Studies, The English Historical Review, The Chaucer Review, The Library, New Medieval Literatures and The Review of English Studies, among others.