Roger Sherman Loomis

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Roger Sherman Loomis
(NYT Photo)

Roger Sherman Loomis (October 31, 1887 – October 11, 1966) was an American scholar and one of the foremost authorities on medieval and Arthurian literature.


Roger Sherman Loomis was the son of Henry Loomis and Jane Herring Greene, the great nephew of William Maxwell Evarts and the great-great grandson of American founding father Roger Sherman. Born in Yokohama, Japan, he was educated at The Hotchkiss School Lakeville, Connecticut.

He earned a B.A. from Williams College in 1909, an M.A. from Harvard University in 1910, and was a Rhodes Scholar at New College, Oxford University in 1913. He held honorary degrees from Columbia, Williams, the University of Wales and the University of Rennes in France.

He was an instructor at the University of Illinois at Urbana from 1913 to 1918. During World War I he edited an Army publication Atenshun 21. He left Illinois for Columbia University, where he taught from 1919 until 1958: he was a member of Columbia's English faculty and held an emeritus position there from 1958 until his death in 1966. In 1919, also, Loomis married his first wife, Gertrude Schoepperle Loomis, (1882-1921), a medieval scholar who shared his interest in Arthurian literature. (Folklore 38.4 1927 405–407).

From his early years he studied the influence of Celtic mythology on Arthurian legend, especially the Holy Grail romance. In 1930 Loomis attended the first International Arthurian Congress in Truro, Cornwall, where he and other scholars investigated Arthurian legends. He was a member of the International Arthurian Society (president of American Branch, 1948 – 63), the Modern Language Association, the Mediaeval Academy of America (fellow; second vice-president, 1961 – 64), the Modern Humanities Research Association and the American Humanist Association. In 1955-6 he was an Eastman Professor at Oxford University.

Loomis wrote ten scholarly books and numerous journal articles. His book A Mirror of Chaucer's World, published in 1965 by Princeton, is a pictorial presentation of drawings, sculpture, paintings and other materials related to Geoffrey Chaucer and his age. His most notable book Arthurian Tradition and Chretien de Troyes, published by Columbia University in 1949, won the Haskins Medal of the Medieval Academy of America.

After the death of his first wife Loomis married Laura Alandis Hibbard (1883-1960), with whom he collaborated in many of his research and writing efforts. He dedicated one of his final volumes to Gertrude Schoepperle Loomis and Laura Hibbard Loomis "in grateful and loving remembrance" (The Grail: From Celtic Myth to Christian Symbol published by the University of Wales 1963; and later by Princeton University, in 1991).


  • Illustrations of Medieval Romance On Tiles From Chertsey Abbey (1916)
  • Freshman Readings (1925)
  • Celtic Myth and Arthurian Romance (1927)
  • The Art of Writing Prose (1930) with Mabel Louise Robinson, Helen Hull and Paul Cavanaugh
  • Models for Writing Prose (1931)
  • The Romance of Tristram and Ysolt (1931) translator
  • Tristan and Isolt: A study of the Sources of the Romance by Gertrude Schoepperle Loomis, 2d ed., expanded by a bibliography and critical essay on Tristan scholarship since 1912, by Roger Sherman Loomis (New York, B. Franklin, 1960)
  • Arthurian Legends in Medieval Art (1938) with Laura Hibbard Loomis
  • Introduction to Medieval Literature, Chiefly in England. Reading List and Bibliography (1939)
  • Representative Medieval And Tudor Plays (1942) editor with Henry W. Wells
  • The Fight for Freedom: College Reading in Wartime (1943) with Gabriel M. Liegey
  • Modern English Readings (1945) editor with Donald Lemen Clark
  • Medieval English Verse and Prose (1948) with Rudolph Willard
  • Arthurian Tradition And Chretien De Troyes (1949)
  • Wales and the Arthurian Legend (1956)
  • Medieval Romances (1957) editor with Laura Hibbard Loomis
  • Arthurian Literature in the Middle Ages, A Collaborative History (1959) editor
  • The Grail: From Celtic Myth to Christian Symbol (1963)
  • The Development of Arthurian Romance (1963)
  • A Mirror of Chaucer's World (1965)
  • The Arthurian Material in the Chronicles: Especially Those in Great Britain and France (1973) expansion of Robert Huntington Fletcher's 1906 book
  • Lanzelet (2005) translator Thomas Kerth, notes by Loomis and Kenneth G. T. Webster


  • Studies In Medieval Literature: A Memorial Collection of Essays (1970)
  • Special to The New York Times."ROGER S. LOOMIS OF COLUMBIA DIES :An Authority on King Arthur and His Knights Was 78 Honored by Medievalists Investigated Legends. " New York Times (1857-Current file) [New York, N.Y.] 12 Oct. 1966,43-43. ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 - 2005). ProQuest. Johns Hopkins University Libraries. 5 Jan. 2009 <>
  • Pinto, Anabela, Mind Your Head. The Beheading Games and Other Games, Lisboa, Chiado Editora, 2014

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