- 1874-1944 (Creation)
Level of description
Extent and medium
Name of creator
William John Alexander was born of Scottish parents in Hamilton, Canada West, in 1855. He was educated in Hamilton and at the University of Toronto where he won a scholarship which enabled him to study English at the University of Wales College in Charlottetown for two years. He obtained a PhD in Greek And Philology at the newly constituted Johns Hopkins University in 1833, and spent a further year studying modern languages in Heidelberg. Dr. Alexander was appointed professor of English language and literature at Dalhousie University in 1884. Attracted by Alexander's reputation as a scholar and teacher, the University of Toronto hired him as Professor of English in 1889. He occupied the chair of English at University College until his retirement in 1927, enriching the lives of several generations of students by his knowledge and enthusiasm. He worked with the Department of Education in improving English text books for public schools and high schools. He edited Shorter Poems and Short Stories and Essays for use in Ontario high schools. His selection of poems is especially interesting, covering the entire range of English literature from the early ballads (one of his great loves) to the free verse of his century. He died in 1944 while visiting his daughter, Mrs. Carleton Stanley, in Halifax.
Immediate source of acquisition or transfer
The W. J. Alexander papers were presented to the University of Toronto in 1974 by his daughters, Laura Wheeler and Mary Alexander.
Content and structure area
Scope and content
The collection consists mainly of accounts written by Dr. Alexander of his own family and of his wife's family, the Morrows and Richeys of Halifax; a few letters; a large clipping file of events from W.J. Alexander's life; some family photos.
Appraisal, destruction and scheduling
System of arrangement
Conditions of access and use area
Conditions governing access
Material may be requested in person at the Fisher Library Reference Desk, or in advance using our online stack retrieval request form: https://fisher.library.utoronto.ca/stack-retrieval-request
Conditions governing reproduction
Language of material