You may have noticed our new artwork hanging in the Law Library. We are called the Muse Law Library and we have the Museletter, the MuseNews, and the A’muse sessions…but who was William Taylor Muse?  In his day, he was known simply as “The Dean.” [1]  Born November 24, 1906 in a place called Ordinary in Gloucester County, Virginia,[2] Muse grew up in Virginia and graduated from Richmond College in 1928 and the School of Law in 1930. Muse had been in practice less than a year when the administration asked him to return to Richmond Law to teach.

Muse received a B.A. from Richmond College in 1928 and his LL.B. from the School of Law in 1930. He went on to receive an S.J.D. from Harvard in 1934 (top). William Taylor Muse in 1947 when he became Dean of the law school (bottom).



Dean Muse had a passion for torts; in a eulogy printed in the Richmond Law Review, one friend said that “[n]o tribute to The Dean would be complete to one of his students without mention of the Palsgraf case and the doctrine of ‘reasonable foreseeability.’ ”[3] Dean Muse penned the Virginia annotations to the Restatement of Torts – by hand. His notes, which organize individually-numbered cases under their relevant subject headings, are contained in three wooden cardstock boxes in our special collections.

The Virginia Annotations to the Restatement of Torts:

Also contained in our special collections – and in our online repository – are all of the torts exams Dean Muse meticulously collected over the years.

Although the laws adapt to our times, not much has changed in the scenarios used in torts exams in the past 85 years.

William Taylor Muse passed away on October 31st, 1971[4] after serving the law school for nearly 40 years and serving 24 years as Dean. The Law Library was named the William Taylor Muse Law Library thanks to a generous donation by his friend, local philanthropist J. Harwood Cochrane. The Law Library recently added Dean Muse’s bar certificates, portrait, and a picture of him in the law school with former Governor Albertis Harrison to our walls to celebrate his contributions to the Law School.

Dean Muse’s portrait now hangs in the main lobby of the William Taylor Muse Law Library.


[1] John W. Edmunds, III, William Taylor Muse – “The Dean”, 6 U. Rich. L. Rev. 193 (1972).

[2] M. Ray Doubles, William Taylor Muse, 6 U. Rich. L. Rev. 189 (1972).

[3] Id.

[4] Harold F. Snead, William Taylor Muse, 6 U. Rich. L. Rev. 195 (1972),

Who was William Taylor Muse?

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