Born in 1922, Michael Loewe attended the Perse School in Cambridge and Magdalen College Oxford. War service forced him to interrupt his residence at Oxford. Michael became part of one of the first groups of Englishmen to be trained in Japanese for the purpose of deciphering military codes. From 1942 to 1956, he worked as a specialist officer in the British Government Communications’ Headquarters. During those years Michael concurrently trained himself in classical Chinese. For his work the School of Oriental and African Studies awarded him with a first class honours degree in 1951 and a doctorate in 1963 for his study on the Han administrative documents from Juyan. From 1956 onwards he served as Lecturer in the History of the Far East at the University of London.
In 1963, he took up an appointment as University Lecturer in Chinese Studies in the Faculty of Oriental Studies at Cambridge, where he would serve as a teacher, scholar and administrator for nearly three decades until his retirement in 1990. In retirement and up to the present day, Michael’s scholarship has remained prolific. He has produced, edited and co-edited pioneering reference works on pre-imperial and early imperial China, directed the compilation of several volumes of the Cambridge History of China and continues to play host to numerous scholars, colleagues and friends at Clare Hall, his college, and Willow House, his home.
His many contributions to the Cambridge academic community include appointments as Chairman of the Faculty Board of Oriental Studies, fellow and Vice-President of Clare Hall, Deputy Director of the Needham Research Institute and Director of Studies at Queens’ College, Sidney Sussex College, Lucy Cavendish College and Wolfson College. Michael has also been instrumental in promoting the profession beyond Cambridge. He served as President of the European Association of Chinese Studies (1984-86), as executive council member of the Universities’ China Committee of London and the Royal Asiatic Society and has been a member on the editorial board of several scholarly journals including Asia Major and Early China. He has held visiting professorships at the Universities of Stockholm, Harvard and Chicago and has been a visiting scholar to many institutions and organizations in China, Taiwan and Japan. For his contributions to the profession, he received an Honorary Membership of the American Academy of Arts and Social Sciences in 2002.
In addition to writing over 50 articles in sinological journals, Michael’s monographs and (co-)edited work have shaped the field in many ways and formed a source of inspiration for several generations of students devoted to the study of early China. They include:
Over and above Michael’s massive contributions to Chinese studies, colleagues, students and friends will acknowledge him for his warm personality. Always prepared to assist others in their work with an intellectual curiosity defying his own long career, his erudition stands in contrast with his great personal modesty. His name remains ubiquitous in the field and his work has inspired generations of young scholars to embark upon the study of Chinese history.
 A full list of published works appeared in Asia Major (3rd Series) 14.2 (2001), pp. 253-256.