Folklorist and linguist John Widdowson was born in Sheffield, England, and educated at Oxford University, the University of Leeds, and Memorial University, where he earned his Ph.D.
Dr. Widdowson came to Memorial in the 1960s to teach English
language and complete his doctoral studies.
He later joined the Folklore department, as Visiting Professor in 1974-75 and serving as head in 1977-78. In 1974 he was elected to the first executive of the Canadian Oral History Association.
Along with Drs. George Story and William Kirwin, Dr. Widdowson was co-editor of the Dictionary of Newfoundland English, and, with Gerald Thomas, edited Studies in Newfoundland Folklore: Community and Process.
Dr. Widdowson was founding director of the Centre for English Cultural Tradition and Language at the University of Sheffield, and in 1985 was named honorary research associate in folklore and language at Memorial University.
He is also founding editor of the journal Lore and Language, and co-director of the Institute for Folklore Studies in Britain and Canada.
His publications include If You Don't be Good...: Verbal Social Control in Newfoundland (1977), Studies in Linguistic Geography: the Dialects of England in Britain and Ireland(1985) and Word Maps: A Dialect Atlas of England(1987).
Dr. Widdowson received an honorary doctor of letters degree from Memorial in 2000.