Skip Navigation Skip to Content Skip to Footer

Our People

Dr John Simpson OBE

Dean of Degrees, Emerita/Emeritus Fellow, Fellow

Faculty of English

OBE, BA York, MA status Oxford, MA Reading, Hon. DLitt Leicester, ANU

Chief Editor, Oxford English Dictionary, 1993-2013

John joined the staff of the Oxford English Dictionary in 1976, and was its Chief Editor from 1993 until his retirement in 2013. In 1991 he was one of the first wave of Fellows elected to Kellogg College, and in the same year was awarded the degree of Doctor of Letters from the Australian National University for services to lexicography.  John is also a member of the Philological Society (where the idea of the Dictionary was first mooted in the 1850s). In 1982 John’s edition of the Concise Oxford Dictionary of Proverbs was published, and in 1992 he co-edited the Oxford Dictionary of Modern Slang.  His introductions to Robert Cawdrey’s English dictionary (1604), B.E.’s Dictionary of the Canting Crew (1699), and James Redding Ware’s Passing English of the Victorian Era (1909) were published by the Bodleian Library.  He is Co-editor of the James Joyce Online Notes, a forum for the publication of documentary evidence elucidating the network of cross-references and allusions in Joyce’s fiction, and is involved in several local-history projects in his home town of Cheltenham: see, for example, the Pittville History Works database. John has contributed to the work of the Department for Continuing Education by lecturing on language and lexicography, and was for many years an Executive Committee member (and one of the two UK delegates) of the European Federation of National Institutions for Language (EFNIL). John is now an Emeritus Fellow of the College, and one of the College’s Deans of Degrees. In 2014 he was appointed OBE in the Queen’s Birthday honours, and in 2015 the honorary degree of Doctor of Letters was conferred on him by the University of Leicester.

Recent publications:

2020 Managing Poverty: Cheltenham settlement examinations 1831-52, published in the Record Series of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society

2019 “House style: the politics, conventions and practices of house-naming in nineteenth-century Cheltenham” in The Local Historian Vol. 49: No. 3 July pp. 194-206

2019 “Francis Irwin, TCD, in the fusty world of Garrett Deasy” in James Joyce Online Notes No. 14 June

2016 The Word Detective. A Life in Words: From Serendipity to Selfie, published by Little, Brown in the UK and Basic Books in the US