Thomas Hoccleve - sometimes spelled Occleve - was probably born in 1369 and died in London in 1426. He was certainly an admirer of Chaucer's work. However, whether he was his disciple or even his friend is not known for sure. Although many of Hoccleve's poems are clearly indebted to the great poet, he is more than a poor imitator and his work should be studied in its own right.

Hoccleve is most famous for his autobiographical writings, in which he describes his work as a clerk in the office of the Privy Seal, London life, and above all his own mental breakdown. Many of his poems are moralising and written in the form of a complaint. But it is difficult to decide whether this is his personal point of view, or - more probably - the public role expected of a minor poet of his age.

Among Hoccleve's larger poems there are: La Male Regle de T. Hoccleve, The Regiment of Princes, The Series Poems (Complaint, Dialogue with a Friend, Jereslaus' Wife, Learn to Die, and The Tale of Jonathas). The Series Poems are partially linked by a dialogue with a fictitious friend who gives advice as to the compilation of the book and its future presentation to the patrons.

Hoccleve's earliest work is The Letter of Cupid, a very interesting adaptation of Christine de Pisan's Epistre au Dieu d'Amours.

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Thomas Hoccleve