John Matthews Manly

John Matthews Manly (September 2, 1865 — April 2, 1940) was an American professor of English literature and philology at the University of Chicago. Manly specialized in the study of the works of William Shakespeare and Geoffrey Chaucer. His eight-volume work, The Text of the Canterbury Tales (1940), written in collaboration with his former student Edith Rickert, has been cited as a definitive study of Chaucer's works.[1]

Early life and education

Manley was born in Virginia the son of Charles Manly, a Baptist minister and university president. He attended Staunton Military Academy and Greenville Military Institute. At the age of 18, Manly earned a master's degree in Mathematics from Furman University. In 1890, he received a PhD from Harvard University in Philology, a non-departmental field for which he created his own curriculum.[2]


In 1884, at the age of 19, Manly accepted a position at William Jewel College teaching Mathematics which he held for five years. After taking his doctorate in 1890 and teaching Anglo-Saxon at Radcliffe for a year, Manly accepted a call to Brown University and became one of the chief members of the English staff there, until 1898.[3] He then accepted the department chair in English at the University of Chicago which he maintained until retirement.[2]

In 1931 he published a paper in Speculum disproving William Romaine Newbold's deciphering of the Voynich Manuscript.[4]


  1. "John M. Manly & Edith Rickert". The University of Chicago Faculty: A Centennial View. University of Chicago. Retrieved 21 March 2013.
  2. 1 2 "Guide to the John Matthews Manly Papers 1892-1940". University of Chicago Library. University of Chicago. 2006. Retrieved 21 March 2013.
  3. Hulbert, J.R. (Aug 1940). "John Matthews Manly, 1865 - 1940". Modern Philology. 38 (1): 1–8. doi:10.1086/388458. JSTOR 433980.
  4. D'Imperio, M. E. (1978). The Voynich Manuscript: An Elegant Enigma. Fort George G. Meade, MD: National Security Agency/Central Security Service. pp. 33–35. OCLC 50929259.

External links

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