Inside Clemson

John Lane Idol Jr., Alumni Professor Emeritus of English –  February 26, 2021

John Lane Idol Jr., 88, Alumni Professor Emeritus of English, died February 26, 2021.

Idol accepted an appointment at Clemson University in 1964 and taught here until his retirement in 1995. He was twice elected to the Faculty Senate. His special interests were the 19th century American novel and 17th century British poetry.

An English and history major at Appalachian State University, he became editor of the Appalachian, the college newspaper. He won a National Defense Education Act Fellowship to pursue studies at the University of Arkansas, where he was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa and earned both a Master of Arts and a Ph.D.

He actively participated in professional organizations and held the position of president of the Thomas Wolfe Society, the Nathanial Hawthorne Society, the Philological Association of the Carolinas and the Society for the Study of Southern Literature. He was a founding member of both the Wolfe and the Hawthorne societies.

As an editor of literary journals, he oversaw the publication of the Nathaniel Hawthorne Review for nine years and served as articles editor for the Thomas Wolfe Review. He was a consulting editor for the South Carolina Review and the Thomas Wolfe Review.

Idol also was the author of an award-winning book on his family’s history titled “Blue Ridge Heritage: An Informal History of Three Generations of the Family of John Nicholson Idol,” as well as a second volume titled “Deep Gap Days: A Crazy-Quilt Narrative of My Boyhood in the Blue Ridge Mountains.”

Idol won citations for distinguished service from the Thomas Wolfe Society, The Nathaniel Hawthorne Society, and the American Literature Association. He was named a distinguished professor of English and the Clemson Class of ‘39 awarded him $5,000 for outstanding teaching and research.

In retirement, he remained active as a teacher, serving as a visiting lecturer at UNC-Chapel Hill, a volunteer teacher at the Chapel Hill Senior Citizens’ Center, and was a member of the teaching team for the Duke University program for learning in retirement.

Idol was preceded in death by his wife, Marjorie South Idol. He is survived by brothers Ken Idol of Carlsbad, California, Joe Idol and wife, Zola, and Steve Idol and wife, Kathy, of Deep Gap, North Carolina.

A memorial service will be held at a later time. His burial will be in the Idol Family Cemetery on Idol Mountain in Deep Gap.

Online condolences may be sent to the Idol family at