Fonds F0016 - A.T.J. Cairns fonds.
- [ca.1946]-1988 (Creation)
Level of description
Extent and medium
Name of creator
Allan Thomas Johnstone Cairns was born in Edmonton in February 1931. Educated in city schools, he later attended the University of Alberta to study English. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1952 and his Master of Arts degree in 1954. He then studied at Oxford with the assistance of an IODE Postgraduate Fellowship, and travelled extensively in Europe.
In 1959 he returned to Canada, accepting a position at Victoria College (now the University of Victoria) to teach English and creative writing. In July 1962 he joined the Department of English at the University of Calgary as a faculty member and was promoted to associate professor in 1975. He remained a faculty member of the Department until his death in January 1988. Professor Cairns sat on many committees of the English Department, chairing several of them and acting as advisor to others. He was a consultant to the Norton Anthology of English Literature (4th edition) and to Prentice Hall publishers regarding new texts for students of English grammar.
In addition to writing scholarly articles and reviews, he was a dedicated creative writer for most of his life. His first love was poetry, which he began to write at the age of 15. In his early 30s the impulse (as he described it) to write poetry had ceased in him and he decided that it was "[t]ime to turn to prose now". Apparently he did not return to writing poems until ca. 1984. He wrote a large number of short stories as well as several novels, including one of over 1100 pages in length which he dubbed "The Monster". Despite his need to write creatively which resulted in an impressive volume of work, Cairns enjoyed only very limited success in having his writing published.