The collection of material for this book was one of several projects growing out of the research done by the late Professors John M. Manly and Edith Rickert which resulted in the publication of The Text of the Canterbury Tales in 1940. As early as 1925 or 1926 Miss Rickert had begun gathering source material, assisted by Miss Lilian J. Redstone and her staff in England, who were searching documents of many kinds for additions to the Chaucer Life-Records. Miss Rickert's original idea for organizing the material to illustrate phases of fourteenth-century life in general was finally crystallized by Miss Redstone's suggestion that the selections be grouped about the life of a typical fourteenth-century person. During Miss Rickert's last visit to England, in 1936, she and Miss Redstone agreed upon the final plan of the book. After Miss Rickert's death, in 1938, Professor Manly suggested that Clair C. Olson, who had done his doctoral research under Miss Rickert's supervision, should take charge of completing the editing of this material, with the idea that it be published as a memorial to her and with the understanding that he would ask as many of Miss Rickert's former students as seemed practicable to assist him. Mr. Olson therefore invited Martin M. Crow to become coeditor, and later they asked others to assist. The illustrations were selected by Miss Margaret Rickert, who, through long association with the project, was familiar with the body of material and with many of her sister's ideas for incorporating it into a book.
The distinctive features of Chaucer's World are the limitation of the material largely to Chaucer's period and its focus on aspects of life with which he was familiar. Many of the selections deal with people, places, or events that Chaucer himself knew or knew of. The items, from widely diverse sources, are fitted into a pattern which forms a mosaic of fourteenth-century life, picturing Chaucer's London and illustrating chronologically typical aspects of the life span of people from various social classes and occupations.
Although both editors have to some extent worked over the entire book, Mr. Crow was primarily responsible for Chapters I, VI, VIII, IX, and X, and Mr. Olson for Chapters II, III, IV, V, and VII.
Because the bulk of the material which came to the editors was so great . . .