Clawson, William Hall

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Department of English

“Born in St. John, New Brunswick, on September 19, 1879, William Hall Clawson was educated at St. John Grammar School and from 1896 to 1900 attended the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton, where he got a B.A. in Classics and English. Then he travelled to Harvard and received his A.B. and A.M. For the next three years, from 1902 to 1905, he succeeded W. F. Stockley as Chair of English and French at the University of New Brunswick. Returning to Harvard, Clawson completed his doctoral thesis on the Robin Hood ballads and earned his Ph.D. in 1907. William John Alexander invited him to Toronto that Easter, gave the young man a dinner, and introduced him to the Department. Clawson started teaching that fall at University College. His expertise was philology and the history of the language, but shortly he was teaching both first year Pass and first year Honours courses as well as composition, Chaucer, English and Scottish popular ballads, and Elizabethan drama. He was promoted to Assistant Professor in 1918, and to Associate Professor in 1924.

Most of his lecture notes are in the University Archives. Over his 42 years of service at Toronto, he taught many eminent students, including the future Governor General, Vincent Massey, the poet Earle Birney, Margaret ("Peg") Stobie (who taught Old English at the University of Manitoba and taught this editor), and A. S. P. Woodhouse, the future Department head at University College. Clawson acted as secretary to the English and History Departments from 1914 to 1928, and after his promotion to Full Professor in 1944, went on to chair the Department of Modern Languages twice, and the Combined Departments of English.”

Clawson wrote a monogram that was an expansion of his Ph.D. thesis entitled, The Gest of Robin Hood (1909) published in the University Studies Philological series.


Harris, Robin S. English Studies at Toronto A History. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1988.