Vanderbilt Law Review


Craig Joyce

First Page



Rarely in the history of American legal education has one author's name been so clearly identified with his subject as the name of William L. Prosser is with the law of torts. Even today, fourteen years after his death in 1972, "Prosser on Torts" remains in the minds of students, teachers, the bench, and the bar alike a single thought, its parts indistinguishable one from the other. Indeed, the passage of time has done nothing to diminish the influence of the man on the subject. His articles remain landmarks in the development both of the literature of torts and of the law itself. The Restatement (Second) of Torts, begun by Prosser in 1963 and recently completed under the reportership of John W. Wade of Vanderbilt, increases in authority with every passing year. Prosser's casebook on torts, now in the third printing of its seventh edition, remains the most widely adopted text in a highly competitive market. All in all, no small accomplishment for a notorious practical joker who, until nearly his fiftieth birthday, had spent his entire legal career as a student, teacher, and practitioner in the provinces of Minnesota, far from the established capitals of scholarship. There is more, however, to the Prosser legacy.