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Burnett, Virgil 1928- (Bevan Amberhill)

BURNETT, Virgil 1928-
(Bevan Amberhill)

PERSONAL: Born January 11, 1928, in Wichita, KS; immigrated to Canada; naturalized Canadian citizen, 1983; son of Virgil and Bertha (Van Order) Burnett; married Anne Pippin, February 16, 1961; children: Maud, Melissa. Ethnicity: "English, Scots, German, Dutch, and Cherokee." Education: Columbia University, B.S., 1949; University of California—Berkeley, M.A., 1955; additional graduate study at University of Paris, 1956-57.

ADDRESSES: Home—51 Avon St., Stratford, Ontario, Canada.

CAREER: Artist and writer. Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL, instructor, 1962-64; University of Chicago, Chicago, IL, associate professor of art, 1964-72; University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, professor of fine arts, 1972-96; retired, 1996. Military service: U.S. Army, artist and illustrator, 1951-53.

AWARDS, HONORS: Fulbright scholarship, 1956; Canada Council grant, 1982; Ontario Arts Council grant, 1983.


(And producer and designer) Dumb Show (play), produced in Chicago, IL, at university theater, University of Chicago, 1969.

Skiamachia (novella), Pasdeloup Press (Stratford, Ontario, Canada), 1977.

(And illustrator) Towers at the Edge of a World: Tales of a Medieval Town (novel), St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1980.

A Comedy of Eros (novella), Porcupine's Quill (Erin, Ontario, Canada), 1984.

Farewell Tour (fiction), Porcupine's Quill (Erin, Ontario, Canada), 1986.

(Under pseudonym Bevan Amberhill, with Bruce Barber) The Bloody Man (fiction), Mercury Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1995.

(Under pseudonym Bevan Amberhill, with Bruce Barber) The Running Girl (fiction), Mercury Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1995.

(And illustrator) Leonora (poetry), Pasdeloup Press (Stratford, Ontario, Canada), 1999, bilingual edition, translated into French by Jacques Flamand and Andree Christenson, Vermillon (Ottawa, Ontario, Canada), 2003.

Also author, with Karen Mulhallen, of A Sentimental Dialogue, Pasdeloup Press (Stratford, Ontario, Canada); and Edward Melcarth: A Hercynian Memoir, Pasdeloup Press (Stratford, Ontario, Canada); editor and compiler, with Robin Magowan, Joseph Plaskett, and wife, Anne Pippin Burnett, A Catafalque for David Hill, Pasdeloup Press (Stratford, Ontario, Canada). Work represented in anthologies, including Illusion, Aya Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1983. Contributor to periodicals, including Canadian Fiction, Chicago Review, Descant, Harper's, Margin, Penthouse, Playboy, and Triquarterly.


George Gordon Byron, Poems of George Gordon, LordByron, Crowell (New York, NY), 1969.

James Branch Cabell, Jurgen: A Comedy of Justice, Limited Editions (Westport, CT), 1976.

Nikos Kazantzakis, Alexander the Great, translated by Theodora Vasils, Ohio University Press (Athens, OH), 1982.

Banabhatta, Kadambari: A Classic Sanskrit Story ofMagical Transformations, translated by Gwendolyn Layne, Garland Publishing (New York, NY), 1991.

Illustrator of several other books, including 8 Poems: A Suite of Broadsides (anthology), Pasdeloup Press; The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, Beowulf, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, and Anglo-Saxon Riddles, all for Folio Society (London, England).

WORK IN PROGRESS: A collection of short stories.

SIDELIGHTS: Virgil Burnett is an artist and writer who has gained distinction for his erotic and fantastic fiction. His first novel, Towers at the Edge of a World: Tales of a Medieval Town, is structured as a cycle of tales about the extraordinary activities in a French town through the ages. One episode, "Gerardus," recounts a plague epidemic in the Dark Ages, while another tale, "Constance," concerns romance during the age of chivalry.

Towers at the Edge of a World has been recognized as an accomplished volume of fantasy. Thomas Pyne, in his assessment for the Los Angeles Times Book Review, declared that "Burnett fascinates us . . . and so fulfills a neglected function of fantasy: forcing closer attention to the ordinary." Joan Murray, meanwhile, wrote in Maclean's that Burnett's book "is a perverse mad dream of rebirth and renewal," and she called Burnett "a remarkably sensitive artist." Anatole Broyard affirmed in the New York Times that in Towers at the Edge of a World Burnett succeeds in capturing "the mood" of life in the Middle Ages.

Among Burnett's other works are the novellas Skiamachia, which comprises five erotic episodes, and A Comedy of Eros, wherein an artist's wordless sexual encounter with a student leads to mystery and violence. Edward Melcarth: A Hercynian Memoir relates the life of the late Edward Melcarth and contains samples of his previously unpublished writings. Another work, A Catafalque for David Hill, is composed of pictures mixed with the writings of David Hill, an American artist who died in Paris after living there for thirty years.

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Financial Post, June 20, 1981.

Globe and Mail (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), June 16, 1984.

Los Angeles Times Book Review, January 18, 1981, Thomas Pyne, review of Towers at the Edge of a World: Tales of a Medieval Town, p. 1.

Maclean's, January 26, 1981, Joan Murray, review of Towers at the Edge of a World, p. 48.

New York Times, December 27, 1980, Anatole Broyard, review of Towers at the Edge of a World.

Voice Literary Supplement, November, 1982, p. 6.

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