Ernest Samuels, professor emeritus of English, died Feb. 12  at his home in Evanston. He was 92.
He started his career as a lawyer, and then returned to the University of Chicago, his alma mater, to work toward the literary career that ultimately would bring him so much acclaim.
He began his tenure at Northwestern after receiving a doctorate in English in 1942. Many of the following years were spent conducting painstaking research on an award-wining, three-volume biography of Henry Adams.
"Henry Adams: The Major Phase" (1964), the final volume of the biography, earned him a Pulitzer Prize and the Friends of Literature Award in 1965. The second volume, "Henry Adams: The Middle Years" (1958), received the Parkman Award and the Bancroft Award.
"He was a devoted teacher and scholar who won his way to international recognition," said Harrison Hayford, professor emeritus of English. Hayford, the lead editor of "The Writings of Herman Melville" (Northwestern University Press and the Newberry Library), described his good friend and colleague as a "telephone grabber."
"You know the type," said Hayford. "If you went into his office for one thing or another, he would be likely to say let's talk with the dean and grab the phone. In other words, he was very effective in action. He had a good sense of humor and a very keen, logical and well organized mind."
Samuels taught at Northwestern from 1942 until 1971 and was chair of the department of English from 1964 to 1966.
A native of Chicago, he received four degrees from the University of Chicago, a bachelor of philosophy, doctor of jurisprudence, master of arts and doctor of philosophy, between 1923 and 1942.
During retirement, he wrote two widely praised volumes on the art historian and philosopher Bernard Berenson. He received the Carl Sandburg Award in 1981 for the first volume.
"He is among the front-runners for post-retirement productivity," said Douglas Cole, professor of English. "We had next-door carrells at the Library, and he was there faithfully every day. We would frequently meet each other tying up our bikes. He used to bike in weather, cold or warm, hail or storm."
Both Cole and Hayford noted that Samuels' wife was very helpful and a collaborator in his research.
Samuels is survived by his wife, Jayne Newcomer Samuels; two daughters, Susanna Samuels Epp and Elizabeth; a son, Jonathan; seven grandchildren; and a great-grandchild.
A memorial service was held Feb. 17 at the Unitarian Church of Evanston.