Johan Winkler pursued medical studies in Haarlem and Amsterdam. After three journeys to Java as a naval surgeon he established himself as a physician in Leeuwarden. He moved to Haarlem in 1875. He also was a prominent linguist. As a language particularist he was especially interested in (Frisian) dialect and onomastics. He mainly wrote scientific publications, but also stories such as Grindebald and Jan Lou’s. He published a eulogy on Gezelle’s work in 1874 in his book "Algemeen Nederduits en Friesch dialecticon", which earned him great renown in Flanders. He contributed to Gezelle's magazine Rond den Heerd (By the Fireside) from 1875 onwards and to Loquela starting in 1881. He also supplied contributions to Biekorf (Beehive). He was friends with Gezelle and they maintained an extensive correspondence.