Mary Martin McLaughlin: 87, a Scholar of the Middle Ages, Is Dead

Historians in the News

Mary Martin McLaughlin, an internationally renowned scholar of the Middle Ages who spent the last four decades working almost entirely outside the academy, died on June 8 at her home in Millbrook, N.Y. She was 87.

The cause was cancer, her niece Kathleen Bayard Derringer said.

Ms. McLaughlin's small but distinguished body of work was highly regarded by academic medievalists around the world. Her research focused in particular on the role of women, children and families in the Middle Ages, largely overlooked subjects when she began her career in the 1940's.

Ms. McLaughlin was also known to generations of college students for two anthologies, "The Portable Medieval Reader" (Viking, 1949) and "The Portable Renaissance Reader" (Viking, 1953), both of which she edited with another medievalist, James Bruce Ross.

For the last 40 years, Ms. McLaughlin labored over two books, to be published posthumously, that colleagues describe as her masterworks. One is the first full biography of Héloïse, the lover and later wife of the 12th-century French philosopher Peter Abélard. The other is the first English translation of the complete correspondence of Héloïse and Abélard.

While reams of scholarship have been devoted to Héloïse and Abélard, among history's most ill-starred lovers, few investigators have considered Héloïse alone. Ms. McLaughlin was the first to do so, colleagues said in interviews last week....

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