Norman Lloyd Johnson was born on January 9, 1917, in Ilford, Essex, just east of London, England. He received degrees at University College London in 1936 (B.Sc. in Mathematics) and 1937/38 (B.Sc. and M.Sc. in Statistics). In 1938, at age 21, he was appointed Assistant Lecturer in the Department of Statistics at UCL. During World War II, he served under Egon Pearson as Experimental Officer with the Ordnance Board.
He returned in 1945 to the Statistics Department at University College London and remained there until 1962, as Assistant Lecturer, Lecturer and then Reader. In 1948 he obtained his doctorate in Statistics at UCL, based on his work on the Johnson system of frequency curves. In the following year he became a Fellow of the Institute of Actuaries in London. Two visiting appointments in the United States, at the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill in 1952–1953 and at Case Institute of Technology in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1960–1961, led to his permanent appointment as Professor in the Department of Statistics at UNC in the Fall of 1962. He served as Chairman 1971–1976 and officially retired in 1982, but has continued to be active in scholarship and research as Professor Emeritus.
Norman Johnson is the author or co-author of 17 books, including two textbooks, each in two volumes, and the Distributions in Statistics series initiated with Sam Kotz, 1969–1972, which in its second edition will have run to six volumes. Along with Sam Kotz he has been Editor of 14 books, including the 10-volume Encyclopedia of Statistical Sciences and the three-volume Breakthroughs in Statistics series, all of which are invaluable sources of information for students, teachers and researchers. He is author of more than 180 papers, monographs and tables, many appearing in journals such as Biometrika, The Annals of Mathematical Statistics and Journal of the American Statistical Association. His co-authors include B. L. Welch, Egon Pearson, Florence David, Fred Leone, Harry Smith, Jr., I. W. Burr, James Grizzle, A. W. Kemp, N. Balakrishnan and his wife Regina Elandt-Johnson. He is a Fellow and recipient of the Wilks Award of the American Statistical Association (ASA) and recipient of the Shewhart Medal, American Society for Quality Control. He is featured in the 1995 ASA videotape “An Interview with Norman L. Johnson.”
Norman L. Johnson died in Chapel Hill November 18, 2004.
"A Conversation with Norman L. Johnson." Statist. Sci. 19 (3) 544 - 560, August 2004. https://doi.org/10.1214/088342304000000170