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William Snell (Tokyo)

A Woman Medievalist Much Maligned:
A Note in Defense of Edith Rickert (1871–1938)

A Woman Medievalist Much Maligned: A Note in Defense of Edith Rickert (1871–1938)
The names of Edith Rickert (1871–1938) and John M. Manly (1865–1940) are almost inextricably bound together. Close colleagues and collaborators for some 40 years at the University of Chicago, they worked jointly on several major and foundational projects concerning Geoffrey Chaucer and his works including the Chaucer Life-Records and the eight-volume Text of the Canterbury Tales (1940), which took sixteen years to complete, the first volume of which Rickert did not live to see published. Manly, president of the MLA (1920) and later of the Medieval Academy (1929–30), was posthumously recognized by being awarded such honors as the Haskins Medal for his work on the Chaucer manuscripts. Rickert, however, was eclipsed by Manly's shadow and is only now beginning to receive her due. This essay looks at Edith Rickert's accomplishments and how her example highlights the role of women scholars in the field of medieval studies in the last century.1

The so-called "Chicago Chaucer Project" of 1924–1940 has come in for a great deal of critical flak in recent years to the detriment of both John Matthews Manly and Edith Rickert's reputations as editors. In this essay I intend to focus more on their achievements rather than failings, and in particular to look at Rickert's work in the light of her academic and personal life.

In the 1920s ands 1930s [John Manly and Edith Rickert] identified every version of the [Canterbury] Tales, gathered copies of them, compared them word by word on some 60,000 collation cards, analyzed the tradition on the basis of this collation, and finally, in 1941, published an edition based on all this information. Fifty years on, it has to be said that Manly and Rickert's work was a failure. No-one uses their edition; their presentation of evidence and conclusions is obscure and often incomprehensible; their methods have been vigorously attacked. (Robinson 1998)2

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It is long forgotten now, but the young Edith Rickert was, in the early part of the last century, publishing fiction in the series of "Methuen's Colonial Library" in the company of such doyennes of English literature as H.G. Wells, Kipling, and Conan Doyle. In her first novel, Out of the Cypress Swamp (1902), written in her early thirties, Rickert already displays an ardent Anglophilia:

"'Honor my sweetheart,' " she quoted him deliciously.
"My English Joyce!"
"Yes. I'm glad that you're English too, Honor."
He wondered whether she noticed the uncontrollable thrill that went through him. "People say that I don't look English; do I?" she continued.
"No; Spanish rather."
"Ah, you see. My mother was Spanish as well as French. But your eyes are so blue, Honor; you couldn't be anything but English — or—Norse perhaps."
"Norman," he began, and stopped.
"Norman!" she repeated in surprise. "Oh, I see; you mean the Conquest. How stupid of me!"
(Rickert 1902: 88)3

Rickert's premier work of fiction is remarkable in that it may afford us some insight into her deeper personal attitudes as well as her future hopes and aspirations. An historical melodrama set in Louisiana during the Anglo-American War, it features a fugitive atheist named Honoré De la Barre, later known as Honor Vaughn, bastard son of an octoroon who elopes with the illegitimate daughter of a sugar planter's servant. The story further involves a duel, infanticide, Honor's involvement with the Baratarians, an attempt to exact revenge on his father, and ends with the siege of New Orleans in 1814, Honor having sided with the British (who were, of course, defeated). Yet in what we have come to know as the "Hollywood Tradition" there is a happy ending, with Honor and Joyce sailing off over the horizon for the Old World, England.

Rickert's sentimental romanticism (sometimes verging on the "Harlequin Romance/Mills and Boon-ish", if not for the period downright pornographic.)4 may provoke a chuckle from present-day readers, or at least suggest that she was writing to some prescribed formula. We can speculate about her motives for producing such works, but in Rickert's case it must not be forgotten that she was from a Protestant family of modest means and was more than likely writing to support herself while in England.

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How she financed her studies during her nine years there from 1900 after leaving Vassar (her first visit to England was in 1896) is a matter which I will leave for her biographers to clarify;5 however, she went on to publish several other novels during that time while doing research on medieval manuscript materials, all through the publisher Edward Arnold.6 Indeed Rickert was a prolific writer who wrote over fifty short stories, many for children, and also contributed to, among other British establishment periodicals, the Times Literary Supplement. That she had a romantic streak is also borne out by her choice of the medieval texts she chose to edit: seven of Marie de France's lays which she rendered into English prose (David Nutt: London, 1901), Early English Romances in Verse (Chatto and Windus, 1908), and The Romance of Emaré, (which was the topic of her PhD thesis) re-edited from the manuscript, with introduction, notes, and glossary, and published for the Early English Text Society by the Oxford University Press, 1908, not to mention The Babees' Book: medieval manners for the young "done into modern English from Dr. Furnivall's texts" (Chatto & Windus) also published that same year.

At the expense of going off at a tangent, reports from the battlefront of the Anglo-Boer War (1899–1902), which was still in continuance when she arrived in England, may well have provided Rickert with graphic detail for her own battlefield scenes in Out of the Cypress Swamp. One striking passage describes the British defeat at New Orleans:

… with one knee on the parapet, [Honor] turned to cry the encouraging word, "Victory!" but at the sight below, the sound froze on his lips. The Cameronians were lying like a grain field after the reapers have passed; the whole plain, as far as the eye could see for the smoke, was strewn with dead and dying; and his own men had vanished as utterly as if the earth had opened and swallowed them up. He was alone on the top of the breastworks! (Rickert 1902: 277)

Edith Rickert must have recognized that in pursuing an academic career and leaving her home country to study abroad she was possibly forfeiting the opportunity to marry and have a family.7 Indeed, her later relationship with Manly became the closest thing to any marriage for either of them, although it was also one akin to that between father and daughter. Here perhaps a parallel can be drawn between Rickert and the character of Joyce, the aforementioned sugar planter's daughter, dominated by her father and intended by him to be enrolled in an Ursuline convent, never to wed or bear children.8 Only seven years older, Manly was a seemingly patriarchal entity, Rickert the "self-sacrificing" daughter-like figure in their relationship. Self-sacrificing is indeed how Rickert is described in Manly's eulogistic Preface to The Text of the Canterbury Tales:

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Miss Rickert was so stimulating and self-sacrificing a teacher that she not only encouraged her students to pursue her in her absence in England with their plans and papers, but when she was in Chicago added to her full load of teaching extra meetings with students … . (Manly 1940: vii) [emphasis mine]

Yet both were very much a couple "married" to their scholarly research. Close colleagues and collaborators for some forty years at the University of Chicago, we can construe from Manly, if indeed it was he who wrote the Preface to The Text of the Canterbury Tales, a tangible sense of regret at not having acknowledged her enough publicly, just as he failed to pay public tribute to her help in the cryptology section of the American War Department during WWI, a point I will come to later. Manly's eulogy contains the following somewhat sexist though no doubt well-intended observation:

… her vigilant eye, her keen critical faculty, and her faultless taste. She had brought to the work [The Text of the Canterbury Tales] marvelous equipment – broad and accurate of scholarship, the temperament and training of an artist, the intuition of a woman with a woman's capacity for enormous drudgery in assembling and verifying all the facts concerned in each case. (Manly 1940: viii)

I lay stress here upon the use of the word 'drudgery'.9

Rickert and Manly, apart from their common interest in things Medieval or Chaucerian, shared an intellectual fascination with the challenges of cryptology.10 I see Manly as a rather frigid breaker and analyst of codes with a seminal mind who was more prone to coming up with the ideas while his collaborators provided the detailed and often painstaking labor. Edith Rickert, on the other hand, was of another mould: a feeling, creative woman; hence the novels, not to mention the three volumes of children's stories she published in her lifetime, mentioned above, which must surely testify to an unfulfilled desire to have a family of her own.

Here I would like to make a diversion to focus on one momentous event in Manly's career as a celebrity code breaker.11 When the United States declared war against Germany in April 1917, a cryptographic service to the U.S. War Department was established under the command of Major Ralph H. Van Deman, later to be known as the Father of American Intelligence, who commissioned Herbert O. Yardley as a lieutenant and set him up as head of the new cryptology section of the Military Intelligence division, MI–8. Manly, then a 51-year-old philologist and head the Department of English at Chicago was known for his interest in codes an ciphers and placed in charge of the instruction subsection for training A.E.F. cryptanalysts, becoming Yardley's chief assistant and one of his best code breakers.12

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Manly brought with him a number of doctoral students mostly from the University of Chicago including David H. Stevens,13 an instructor in English and later assistant to the President of the University, Thomas A. Knott, Associate Professor of English and later general editor of Webster's Dictionary; Charles H. Beeson, Associate Professor of Latin and later president of the Medieval Academy of America; and of course Edith Rickert. Manly was aware of her expertise as a student of language, especially her knowledge of German, and thus brought her to Washington to help. After the war Manly returned to Chicago, where Rickert later joined him in the English Department in 1924 when she was officially appointed associate professor there at the age of 53.14

One of the most important and best publicized of MI-8's cryptographic solutions resulted in the conviction of the only German spy sentenced to death in the United States during the war, Lothar Witzke, aka Pablo Waberski, subsequently convicted for his part in one of the largest terrorist plots to take place in New York, pre-9.11, for setting off the so-called "Black Tom" explosions on the morning of July 30, 1916, in which over 2 million pounds of munitions stored on Black Tom Island in New York Harbor were detonated. The damage was estimated at $14,000,000 and three men and a child were killed. Waberski was captured in Nogales, Mexico, by an American agent with a cipher letter in his luggage. The message from the German government asked the Mexicans for protection and assistance.15

The event provoked much interest at the time, but contemporary accounts fail to mention Rickert in this remarkable episode. David Kahn, however, in his history of decoding, The Codebreakers (1967), states the following:

This quiet scholar [Manly], who never married and whose quiet, simple manner contrasted so sharply with his chief's [Yardley], was to become one of the world's leading authorities on Chaucer. He and his collaborator, Edith Rickert labored for 14 years [sic] to produce their monumental eight-volume work, The Text of the Canterbury Tales, in which, by a tedious collation of scribal errors and variant readings in more than 80 manuscripts of the medieval masterpiece, they reconstructed a text that is as close to the poet's own original as the extant evidence allows. The cast of mind that can thus sort out, retain, and then organize innumerable details into a cohesive whole was just what was needed for the Gothic complexity of the 242-letter Witzke cryptogram. In a three-day marathon of cryptanalysis, Manly, aided by Miss Rickert, perceived the pattern of this 12-step official cipher, with its multiple horizontal shiftings of three- and four-letter plaintext groups ripped apart by a final vertical transcription. He drew forth a message from Heinrich von Eckardt, the luckless German minister in Mexico… . (Kahn 1967: 354) [emphasis mine]

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This is one of many examples where Rickert's contribution was overlooked. Later, as Sylvia Tomasch (2004) has pointed out in a recent paper, when the Medieval Academy of America bestowed their prestigious Haskins Medal to Manly in 1942 for The Text of the Canterbury Tales, the committee made no mention of Rickert in the official report published in Speculum: in the journal, it simply refers to "numerous [unnamed] helpers" (Tomasch 2004: 466).

I am not trying to demonize Manly; there is no suggestion that he himself belittled Rickert's contribution, and he apparently did stick up for better wages for the women staff on the Chicago project, particularly Mabel Dean and Helen McIntosh. 1933–34 was an especially tight fiscal year in the project, for which funds were always a problem; in fact from 1927 onward there was the constant pressure to find money. Manly was a man of his age with a commanding mind, widely respected and loved by those who knew him, and Rickert was obviously devoted to him. In this regard it is interesting to note that after he was replaced as general editor of Modern Philology her contributions to the journal ceased.

As previously stated, Rickert, along with Manly, the chief editor, has been very much tarred with the critical brush applied to the Chicago Chaucer Project, the eight-volume Text of the Canterbury Tales (1940), which took sixteen years to complete, the first volume of which she did not live to see published. However, if anyone had reservations about the project, it was Rickert herself: "At a very early stage in our undertaking [Rickert] felt the great complication and size of it and often asserted that we could never finish it if we worked like normal human beings." (Manly 1940: vii) [emphasis mine]

They intended the work to be an authoritative Chaucer text, as well as a critical study based on examination of every line in every manuscript of that work with all the thousands of variants in mind, the team tried to establish the lines of descent from a copy (or copies) of the original and from them reconstruct one which is as close to the poet's own original. In so doing they attempted to determine a genealogy of manuscripts by examining their similarities and variations to establish a lineage. However, the information they gathered was too much for them; too much to reach a satisfactory conclusion.

Later editions, though, have had to take theirs into consideration, such as F.N. Robinson's (1933) which is also ignored today having been eclipsed by our beloved Riverside (itself sorely due for revision). It was Manly and Rickert's edition, which provided full collocations, that induced Robinson to come out with his 1957 revision, although he was not convinced by their theory that the Ellesmere is an edited manuscript whose scribe, or "editor" frequently "corrected" the meter, an assertion since refuted by George Kane in his essay in Editing Chaucer (1985).16

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Regarding the "Chicago Project" Manly and Rickert have had their apologists, particularly in Roy Vance Ramsey (1994), who stated: "Seldom can a fundamental work of scholarship have been so misunderstood and, as a direct result, maligned as this one…" (Ramsey Intro: viii) [emphasis mine] Yet it is the damning criticism which continues to prevail, prominently George Kane's scathing summation of their work earlier referred to. Among other things he accuses them of a lack of familiarity with the methods of scribes, and that "some editorial judgments suggest insufficient familiarity with Middle English." Kane states that "they underestimated the difficulties of Middle English lexicography, to the detriment of their interpretation of the evidence" (Kane 1984: 219), that they did not sufficiently respect the difficulties of Middle English, and that they were "overconfident about their knowledge of the language". Indeed, one of the first reviewers of the edition, Dorothy Everett, in the Review of English Studies 18 noted "either carelessness or uncertainty in the handling of linguistic material" (Everett 1942: 96). "That circumstance, along with their inexperience of and misconceptions about the scribal mentality, accounts for the inability to read manuscript evidence which their edition exhibits time and again." (Kane 1984: 219)

However, one striking comment that Kane makes is that "… a general poverty of editorial insight, shows itself particularly in the treatment of the Ellesmere manuscript. This is of such a character as to suggest that it was emotionally based" (Kane 1984: 220). (As mentioned above this was something that F. N. Robinson also queried; their theory that the Ellesemere MS is an edited manuscript whose scribe or "editor" frequently corrected the meter.) Kane suggests that Manly and Rickert were under some compulsion to discredit the text because it did not fit into their schema and it "clouded their judgment" (Kane 1984: 217), that they simply wanted to produce a conclusion different from the current one (Why? Because Robinson had called the Ellesmere "the best copy"?), or they "put it down" (Kane's words) because they could not classify it, as it was outside their already dubious stemma and "was a potential dismissal of their whole hypothesis".

Kane does acknowledge that Manly and Rickert were publishing under pressure. He also admits that we know nothing about the training of the "very large" staff who produced the collations, and as any paleographer can tell you not all fifteenth-century hands are easy. Mistakes were made, and the editors did not receive the financial support they had expected. Kane also states that the edition "does not fairly represent their intellectual quality or their command of textual criticism" (Kane 1984: 212). Yet he remains unsympathetic due to the influence that the edition later exerted.

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But one aspect of the couple's approach to the text has been overlooked: namely, how much did their cryptanalysis undermine the Chaucer project in their thinking? Perhaps we will never know, but Manly – indeed both – were very much used to thinking how language was "disarranged" rather than "arranged"17 in the transposition of ciphers. Code breaking is by its very nature a deconstructive rather than constructive activity. What I mean here is that their common interest in breaking codes may have had a negative influence on their editorial methods. Interestingly Sylvia Tomasch has also seen the search for a definitive text as a "necessarily messy, fragmented, and ever-receding dream of desire" to quote Tomasch, and an edition as "the textualization of the act of mourning" (Tomasch 2004: 458) … just as the Cypress tree is a traditional symbol of mourning.

It is also often forgotten just how old the two scholars were when they came to the project: when Manly proposed it in 1924 he was already 59 (he died at the age of 75); Rickert was 53 (died age 67). For both it was very much a race against time in the end. Among other problems they had to contend with were the Great Depression of 1929 and lack of funding, not to mention their own physical and mental exhaustion.

Fatigue, if not the cold of the Public Record office, took an inevitable toll on Rickert's health: as Ramsey comments, in addition to her teaching duties, "working on the collations, and constituting the text very likely contributed to the shortening of her life, just as Manly and everyone who knew her assumed" (Ramsey (1994): 133). I draw your attention to the one enduring photographic image of Rickert working at the Public Record Office, London, circa 1928 contained in Chaucer's World (1948),18 which shows her clothed in a heavy-knit woolen sweater. The caption reads:

Edith Rickert, photographed at the Public record Office, London, ca. 1928, when she was examining records such as Chaucer himself would have kept in connection with his work as Controller of Customs and Clerk of the works. In Miss Rickert's hands are some Exchequer "bille" — bits of parchment used for the current work of the office, as it were — and on the far side of the table, the large enrollments upon which the accounts would finally be entered. These records are the fourteenth-century version of the modern civil servant's file of typescript minutes and reports.

In her Preface to Chaucer's World, Rickert's youngest sister Margaret (1888–1973), scholar in art history, relates how

… the appearance of Edith Rickert represented facing page vi was familiar to those who frequented the Public Record Office during the years following the initiation of the Chaucer studies in 1924.

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The tireless enthusiasm with which she herself worked day after day, often with hands numb from the chill of the room only partially heated by an open fire (a truly medieval experience from which, one must believe, she derived some delight, if little comfort) was the result of no mere scholarly thoroughness but of her passionate eagerness not to miss any single item which could contribute an additional detail to her knowledge of Chaucer's world. (Rickert 1948: v)19

But she adds one detail which might go towards understanding why Rickert never wed: "Housekeeping equipment and routine of the fourteenth century were of infinitely greater interest to her than conveniences in her own household" (Rickert 1948: v). Margaret goes on to describe the

many self-imposed work weeks of seven days, the day often fifteen hours long, almost her only relaxation being an occasional concert or theater. Six months of the year were spent in Chicago, teaching at the university and working in the Chaucer 'laboratory' with a staff at the height of the work numbered some fifteen persons, chiefly graduate students. The other six months were sonnet abroad, "the first few weeks, perhaps, on a reluctant vacation in southern France or in Italy — at any rate somewhere within easy reach of London where the major part of the research went on. (Rickert 1948: vii)

The last paragraph of her Foreword, written in October 1947, some nine years after her sister's death, provides a touching epitaph:

To have lived broadly and deeply and to have brought the beauty and grace and integrity of her personality into the lives of many; to have produced richly and in varied kinds; to have found at the end of her life the sheer force of will to dominate the crippling illness that drained her physical strength, but could not conquer her mind and spirit; and to have carried forward unremittingly even the face of death the work to which long before she had dedicated herself—this is the measure of Edith Rickert's stature. (Ebd.: ix)

The work done on the Canterbury Tales manuscripts, particularly by Rickert, has lead to a closer study of Chaucer's life and a more complete understanding of his times. In praise of both Manly and Rickert they must also be remembered and revered for their contributions to the Chicago University Bacon Collection of medieval manuscripts, particularly English court and manorial documents spanning the period from 1250–1700 many of which they purchased on behalf of the University and lead to the compilation of the life records. The Preface to Chaucer's World states that in 1925–or 26 Rickert was already gathering material on Chaucer's life with the British archivist and historian Lilian Redstone and her staff in England. Many of the documents held in the collection were bought from Bernard Quaritch in December, 1923. 4,500 items came up for auction just as the Chicago Project commenced: a colleague of Manly's happened to be in London at the time who contacted him, viewed the documents at Quaritch, and reported back to Manly, who gave permission for the purchase.

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In addition, as testified to by Chaucer's World/Life-Records and numerous papers, it was Rickert's tireless endeavor to place Chaucer in his social and historical context. One of her assertions, for example, is that there is contemporary historical evidence towards indicating that the Book of the Duchess is a representation of the love match between John of Gaunt and Blanche of Lancaster. In her theory the various birds who debate about the eagle's choice of a mate represent certain social or intellectual classes in fourteenth-century England.20

Although The Text of the Canterbury Tales has been evaluated as a noble failure, Manly and Rickert were torchbearers and their example, rather than be disdained, should live on as a guide to all of us who seek to piece together that massive, tantalizingly incomplete jigsaw puzzle which is the Middle Ages. Their achievements will be admired by successive generations and their errors learned from. Both played crucial roles in the professionalization of American universities, English literary studies, and medieval studies in general—not to mention in the history of United States military intelligence! The historian Barbara Hanawalt has referred to the marginalization of women medievalists in the early twentieth century. I am sure that Edith Rickert would be gratified to know that she is finally receiving her due through the work of present-day medievalists such as Sylvia Tomasch and Elizabeth Scala, whose writings on Rickert have resulted in her finally achieving the recognition she has so long deserved, not as a medievalist to be maligned but as a scholar and teacher much to be admired.

Earlier I mentioned Manly's "eulogy" to Rickert in the Preface to The Text of the Canterbury Tales. However, apart from Margaret Rickert's words quoted above, perhaps a more fitting one might be Manly's remarks written in April 1934 to David H. Stevens, the English teacher at Chicago who worked on the cipher team with them during the First World War, two years before Rickert's final heart attack: "Miss Rickert is working twenty-five hours a day, as usual, and is on the verge of a breakdown, but she won't break. She never does." (Qtd. in Ramsey 1994: 77)

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Crow, Martin M. and Clair C. Olson, eds. (1966): The Chaucer Life-Records. New York: Oxford University Press.

Everett, Dorothy (1942): "Review of The Text of the Canterbury Tales." in: Review of English Studies 18, 93–109.

Kahn, David (1967): The Codebreakers: The Story of Secret Writing. New York: Scribner.

Kane, George (1984): "John M. Manly and Edith Rickert", in: Paul G. Ruggiers, ed. Editing Chaucer: The Great Tradition. Norman, Oklahoma: pilgrim books. 207–29.

Landau, Henry [Captain] (1937): The Enemy Within: The Inside Story of German Sabotage in America. New York: Van Rees Press.

Manly, John M. & Edith Rickert eds. (1940): The Text of the Canterbury Tales: studied on the basis of all known manuscripts; with the aid of Mabel Dean, Helen McIntosh and Others. With a chapter on illuminations by Margaret Rickert, 8 vols. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Ramsey, Roy Vance (1994): The Manly-Rickert Text of the Canterbury Tales. Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen Press.

Rickert, Edith (1902): Out of the Cypress Swamp [A novel.]. London: Methuen.

Rickert, Edith (1948): Chaucer's World. Compiled by E. Rickert. Edited by Clair C. Olson and Martin M. Crow. Illustrations selected by Margaret Rickert. Oxford University Press: London; Columbia Univ. Press.

Robinson, Peter M. W. (1998): " New methods of editing, exploring, and reading The Canterbury Tales" (From an article based on a talk given at the conference 'I nuovi orizzonti della filologia', Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei. Rome).
[Available at, last visited 10.09.2008].

Robinson, Peter M. W. (2001): "Electronic Textual Editing: The Canterbury Tales and other Medieval Texts"
. [Available at:; last visited 10.02. 2009]

Scala, Elizabeth (Fall 2000): "Scandalous Assumptions: Edith Rickert and the Chicago Chaucer Project", in: Medieval Feminist Forum: 27–37.

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Scala, Elizabeth (2005): 'Miss Rickert of Vassar' and Edith Rickert at the University of Chicago (1871–1938)", in: Women Medievalists and the Academy ed. Jane Chance. Univ. Wisconsin Press, 127–45.

Tomasch, Sylvia (Fall 2004): "Editing as Palinode: The Invention of Love and the Text of the Canterbury Tales", in: Exemplaria 16:2, 457–76.

Unversity of Chicago Centennial catalogues: []

Yardley, Herbert O. (1931): The American Black Chamber. Chicago: Bobbs-Merril Co.


1 This essay is based on a paper given at the New Chaucer Society 14th Biennial Congress, Glasgow University, July 2004 in the symposium "Early Women Scholars and the History of Reading Chaucer" and in a revised form at the symposium "Monumental Modern Medievalists", at the 20th Anniversary Congress of the Japan Society for Medieval English Studies, Mukogawa Women's University, Hyogo, Japan, 11th December 2004. I am immensely grateful to Richard Utz for inviting me to participate in the Glasgow congress.

2 Peter M. W. Robinson. From an article based on a talk given at the conference "I nuovi orizzonti della filologia", Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, Rome, May 1998. []. See also George Kane (1984: 207–29).

3 Cf. also: " 'Tis like the night before Hastings," said Worthing solemnly; "we drank, while the Normans were shriven and prayed." "Do you suppose that the Americans are being shriven now?" asked [Honore] Vaughan, smiling. "I rather believe them to be lurking about in the dark woods over there, to see what we are about." (Out of the Cypress Swamp: 262)

4 For example: [Honor] dropped her hands and put his about her, cloak and all, drawing her back until her dark hair touched his cheek. "See, how tall you are — Joyce! My Joyce — mine?" She started slightly, but made no immediate effort to escape. "How can I tell, sir?" she asked. "This way!" Before she perceived his purpose, he had stooped and kissed her cheek, lightly and reverently. "Do you know better now, dear?" "Perhaps — but I know also that you are presuming!" she said, with a touch of sauciness. "Will you give me more then?" At first then, she lifted up eyes and lips; but as suddenly grew shy and hid her face. … (Rickert 1902: 86–87)

5 Scala (2005) mentions that Rickert had "the emotional backing of her parents if not the financial help others had" (130).

6 During those nine years she produced four novels: Folly (London: Edward Arnold, 1906); The Golden Hawk (London: Edward Arnold, 1907; second ed.1917); and The Beggar in the Heart. (Edward Arnold, 1909), as well as numerous short stories.

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7 "Any wish for a husband is put into the future beyond her college and independent years." (Scala 2005: 131). See also (Scala 2000): 30–31.

8 Scala (2005) in "Scandalous Assumptions" has quite another view of their relationship. She mentions that "Her [Rickert's] discussion with other female residents of her London boardinghouse, recorded in her journals, indicate an expectation to marry eventually" (131).

9 Rickert's "drudgery" even brought her as far afield as Glasgow to examine Hunterian MS (197) V.I.I.

10 In a footnote, Ramsey recounts an anecdote from a letter in the Project archives from Ralph D. Kellogg dated 1915 to Fred B. Millett in which the former tells how he was approached on a trans-Atlantic voyage by Rickert to borrow a Spanish dictionary because she and Manly were "attempting to decipher a message written in code to Don. Hernan Cortes of Mexico early in the 16th century" to which he adds that "with the help of the dictionary Miss. Rickert and Dr. Manly were able to decipher most of the code before our arrival in Liverpool and to read part of the message itself" (Ramsey 1944: 62–3).

11 Scala comments that "While the retrospective temporal lists of events in her career that are scattered in her journals and writings… include "busting the code," there is little material about this period of her life with which a biographer may work" (Scala 2005: 134).

12 To my knowledge Manly was not involved in solving the Zimmerman code, which I believe was achieved by the British equivalent of MI–8.

13See the photograph on the University of Chicago homepage: [], which according to the subtitle features

John M. Manly, Edith Rickert, and David Stevens bound for America aboard the Europe, 1932. "Manly and Rickert taught at the University during the summer and autumn quarters and spent the remainder of each year in England. On this return voyage, they were joined by David Stevens, a colleague from the English Department."

14 See Scala (2005: 135).

15 Then President Thomas Woodrow Wilson later commuted Witzke's sentence to life imprisonment. He was sent to Leavenworth Prison but later released in 1923. See: Henry Landau [Captain], The Enemy Within: The Inside Story of German Sabotage in America. New York: Van Rees Press, 1937.

16 See Kane (1984: 207–29).

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17 As captain Manley [sic] was sworn, a hush fell over the courtroom, for it was known that he had testimony of the most vital import to give. He started out by narrating that he had been head of the English Department of the University of Chicago from July 1898 to October 1917, when he was appointed as an assistant to Captain Yardley, Chief of the Cryptographic Bureau, and Sub-section M.I.8 of the Military Intelligence Division of the General Staff in Washington, D.C. He went on to explain how he had been interested in codes and ciphers since boyhood and had studied them for thirty-five years as a hobby. He also stated that he was a fluent German scholar and had been exchange professor at the University of Göttingen in 1909.
In the spring of 1918, Manley [sic.] continued, the encoded letter carried by Witzke came into the Cryptographic Bureau. After several others had tried to decipher it without success, he eventually took it up, and after spending a great deal of time on it, succeeded in deciphering it. He explained that it was a transposition cipher. The text was first written in German and then by a prearranged diagram the letters were mixed up. The problem which he had had to solve was to discover the formula by which the letters were disarranged … . (Landau 1937: 124–25) [emphasis mine].

18 Later incorporated and expanded into The Chaucer Life-Records (Crow / Olson 1966).

19 Even Robinson concedes that "Possibly, they failed because the sheer volume of data generated by their collation (some three million pieces of information on sixty thousand collation cards) quite overwhelmed the tools of analysis available to them: basically, pencil, paper and Edith Rickert's memory… ." (Robinson 2001: n.p.)

20 This was "Geoffrey Chaucer: A New Interpretation of the Parliament of Foules," Modern Philology, XVIII (1920): 1–29). Other notable articles include: "Thou Vache," Modern Philology, XI (1913–14), 209–225; "Political Propaganda and Satire in A Midsummer Night's Dream," Modern Philology XXI (1923–24), 53, 133; "Was Chaucer a Student at the Inner Temple," in The Manly Anniversary Studies in Language and Literature. Chicago, 1923; "Extracts from a Fourteenth-Century Accounts Book, I and II," Modern Philology XXIV (1926), 249; "Chaucer's Debt to Walter Bukholt," 503; "Documents and Records," Extracts from a Fourteenth-Century Account Book," Modern Philology, XXIV (1926–27), 111–119, 249–256; "Documents and Records: a Leaf from a Fourteenth-Century Letter Book," Modern Philology, XXV (1926–1927), 111–255; "Good Lief, My Wyf," Modern Philology XXV (1927), 79–82; "Chaucer Abroad," 551; "A Leaf from a Fourteenth-Century Letter Book," 249; "Recently Discovered Chaucer Documents: Chaucer's Debt to John Churchman," 121; "Chaucer at School," Modern Philology, XXIX (1931–32), 257–264; "Some English Personal Letters of 1402," Review of English Studies, VIII (1932), 257–263; and "King Richard II's Books" in The Library, 4th series, 13 (1933): 144–47.