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Birney, Earle, 1904-1995
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Born in Calgary, Alberta, Earle Birney (1904-1995) was educated at the Universities of British Columbia, Toronto and California. He lectured in English at the University of Toronto from 1936 to 1941 when he left to serve overseas in World War II. On return, he worked for the CBC in 1945 and in 1946 he joined the Department of English at University of British Columbia, where he taught the first credit course in creative writing offered by a Canadian university. During the next two decades Birney added more writing courses and tutorials to the curriculum. In 1964 he became editor of the literary magazine "Prism International", and affiliated it with the creative writing programme. Birney retired from UBC in 1965 to become writer-in-residence at Scarborough College at the University of Toronto -- soon after he left, UBC officially established the programme he founded as the Department of Creative Writing.
Well known as a poet and writer, Earle Birney published novels, volumes of poetry, short stories, essays and plays. His honours include the Governor General's medal for poetry (twice); the Lorne Pierce gold medal for Literature, the University of Ontario President's medal for poetry; and the Stephen Leacock medal for humourous writing (for his novel "Turvey"). Birney died in September 1995.