Barker Fairley

Barker Fairley, scholar, literary and art critic, painter (born at Barnsley, Eng 21 May 1887; died at Toronto 11 Oct 1986). One of the foremost German scholars of the century and author of 2 epoch-making books on Goethe (Goethe as Revealed in His Poetry, 1932; A Study of Goethe, 1947), Fairley was co-founder of the Canadian Forum, and friend and promoter of the Group of Seven. His wide-ranging opinions on art and literature were always expressed in a provocative and felicitous prose style that appealed to the general reader. After graduating from the University of Leeds, he began his academic career at U of Jena (1907-10) and was then invited to join the newly founded U of A in Edmonton (1910-15). From 1915 until his retirement in 1957 (except 1932-36), he taught at University College, University of Toronto. In retirement he devoted considerable time to his painting (see his 1981 book, Portraits) and enjoyed increasing recognition as a painter of portraits, landscapes and still lifes. Although first and foremost a scholar of German literature, he wrote articles and books on many writers and was instrumental, chiefly through his columns in Canadian Forum, in focusing public attention on Canadian art in general and on the Group of Seven in particular.