|Updated: 10:15 a.m. EDT -- 01 October 2002|
The “Middle English Dictionary,” begun in 1930, was
two-thirds complete when Lewis took over in 1982. He brought a new
standard of excellence and aesthetic discrimination to the last
third of the dictionary, including increasing the number of quotations
per entry and providing expanded lists of spellings and forms. Scholars
around the world use both the print dictionary and the online version
growing out of it (which is part of the Middle English Compendium)
to illuminate literature, medicine, history, science and anthropology.
During the 1960s and early 1970s, Lewis worked on Pope Innocent III’s Latin treatise “De Miseria Humane Conditionis” (ca. 1195) and its influence on 14th-century English poet Geoffrey Chaucer. He has published a number of books and articles, including in-depth studies of the religious poem the “Pricke of Conscience,” the most popular poem of the English Middle Ages, and (as co-author) “A Descriptive Guide to the Manuscripts of the Prick of Conscience and Index of Printed Middle English Prose.”
Described by colleagues as a “tresour, ‘a store of riches’ (MED sense 1. [a]),” Lewis is general editor of the Chaucer Library series, a member of the editorial board for the second edition of the “Oxford English Dictionary” (1989), and a former member of the Board of Regents of Mercersburg Academy.