Literary historian and scholar; University Professor of English literature. Born– Sumter County, Ala., September 2, 1865. Parents– Charles and Mary (Matthews) Manly. Education– Furman University, 1883; A.M., 1889; Harvard University, Ph. D., 1900. Military intelligence service, WWI, 1917-1919. Employed by Brown University, 1884-1898; University of Chicago, 1898-1933. Specialized in the study of early English literature; best known for his editing and scholarly research on Chaucer.  Exchange professor or visiting lecturer, University of Gottingen, Lowell Institute, British Academy, Royal Society of Literature; editor, 1908-1930.  Member and President Modern Language Association; member Mediaeval Academy, Modern Humanities Research Association, British Shakespeare Association.  Received five honorary doctorates during his lifetime.   Awarded the biennial Sir Israel Gollancz Prize in 1939 by the British Academy, for his edition of the Text of the Canterbury Tales. His colleagues and students at the University honored him with a feistschriften, The Manly Anniversary Studies in Language and Literature, in 1923. Died April 2, 1940.


Marquis who’s who online;  The National Cyclopedia of Amerian Biography, Vol. 48; American National Biography online.


Chaucer and the Rhetoricians. London; Oxford University Press, 1926.

Contemporary British Literature; Bibliographies and Study Outlines. New York; Harcourt, 1921.

English Poetry (1170-1892). Boston; Ginn, 1916.

Good Reading. New York; Scribner, 1926.

Junior High School English. Boston; D.C. Heath, 1916.

Marco Polo and the Squire’s Tale. Baltimore; Publication of the Modern Language Association, 1896.

The Piers Plowman Controversy …. London; Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co., 1910.

Piers the Plowman and Its Sequence, …. Cambridge; Cambridge University Press, 1908.

Some New Light on Chaucer. New York; Holt, 1926.


The Bailey-Manly Spelling Book. Boston; Houghton, 1908.

Better Advertising; a Practical Manual of the Principles of Advertising. Chicago; F. J. Drake Co., 1921.

Better Business English; a Working Manual …. Chicago; J. F. Drake, 1921.

Contemporary American Authors; a Critical Survey and 219 Bio-bibliographies. New York; Harcourt, 1922.

Contemporary American Literature; Bibliographies and Study Outlines. New York; Harcourt, 1935.

Contemporary British Literature; a Critical Survey and 232 Author-bibliographies. New York; Harcourt, 1935.

Contemporary British Literature; Outlines for Study, Indexes, Bibliographies. New York; Harcourt, 1928.

Lessons in the Speaking and Writing of English …. Boston; D.C. Heath, 1912.

A Manual for Writers; Covering the Needs of Authors for Information on Rules of Writing and Practices in Printing. Chicago; University of Chicago, 1915.

The Writer’s Index of Good Form and Good English. New York; Holt, 1923.

The Writing of English. New York; Holt, 1919.


Canterbury Tales. New York; Holt, 1928.

English Prose and Poetry (1137-1892). New York; Ginn, 1916.

The Poems and Plays of William Vaughn Moody. New York; Scribner, 1887.

… Shakespeare’s MacBeth. New York; Longmans, Green, 1896.

Specimens of the Pre-Shakespearean Drama…. Boston; Ginn, 1897.


La Seinte Resureccion from the Paris and Canterbury mss. Oxford, Miss.; B. Blackwell, 1943.

The Text of the Canterbury Tales… . Chicago; University of Chicago Press, 1940.


Cambridge History of English Literature, Encyclopedia Britannica, 11 ed.


The papers of John Matthews Manly are held by the library at the University of Chicago.

Updated 2011-08-31