Biography of Michael Samuels
Michael Louis Samuels (1920-2010) was Professor of English Language at the University from 1959 to 1989. He was awarded a DLitt in 2006.
Samuels is a graduate of Balliol College Oxford, and was Domus Exhibitioner in Classics from 1938 to 1940. He worked for the Air Ministry (Maintenance Command) from 1940-45 and returned to Oxford from 1945 to 1947. He was Lecturer in English Language at the University of Edinburgh from 1949 to 1959. He was an authority on Old English phonology, Old Norse and Middle English. He was also interested in linguistic change, especially verbal obsolescence and replacement. In order to further such studies, in 1964 he established the Historical Thesaurus as a departmental project. The Historical Thesaurus of English project presents the vocabulary of English from Old English to the present day. Words are arranged according to their meanings and dates of use allowing users to explore connections between words. It is based on the second edition of the Oxford English Dictionary and was completed and published in two volumes in 2009. He died at the age of 90 in November 2010.