Alan Twigg is the author of eighteen books. He was inducted as a member of the Order of Canada in 2015.

He received the 13th annual Lieutenant Governor's Award for Literary Excellence in 2016. Previously he was the first and only recipient of ABPBC Media Award in 1988; he was named the first recipient of the Gray Campbell Distinguished Service Award for outstanding contributions to literature and publishing in 2000. In 2007, he became the second person (after Vancouver Sun journalist Douglas Todd) to accept the Jack and Doris Shadbolt Fellowship in the Humanities at Simon Fraser University "to recognize and support leaders in the humanities who are not necessarily part of the academy." In the same year he was the first Writer in Residence at the George Price Center for Peace in Belize. In 2011 he received the Mayor of Vancouver's annual Literary Arts Award. In 2010, he received the Pandora's Collective Publisher's Award of Merit.


Since 1987, Alan Twigg has written and published B.C. BookWorld, an assertively middle brow publication, distributed by more than 600 outlets in B.C., including BC Ferries, in support of the B.C. writing and publishing community. The educational newspaper has been cited by the Canadian Centre for Studies in Publishing as the most essential cog in the infrastructure that supports writing and publishing in British Columbia. He chose to retire in order to write more books in 2019.

Since 2001, as an adjunct reference service, he has created, written and managed ABCBookWorld, a public reference service for and about more than 12,000 British Columbia authors. Hosted by Simon Fraser University Library, this service has become the Wikipedia of B.C. literature, attracting more than 4,000 visitors per day. He continues work unpaid to manage this service.

In 2005, he published Aboriginality, the first book to comprehensively identify and describe the literary culture exclusively created by Indigenous authors within one Canadian province. Fifteen years later, this undertaking has yet to be attempted in any other part of Canada. Having written about books for, by and about First Nations in every issue of B.C. BookWorld, he can now identify and discuss works by more than 250 Indigenous authors of B.C.

Since 2014, he has devised, launched and written BCBookLook, an omnibus news hub for B.C. literature. It provides original material such as videos, audio interviews, blogs, bestseller lists, lengthy essays, excerpts, theatre reviews, event information and news stories. More than 1,500 original posts were added during its first two-and-a-half years. He continues work unpaid to manage this service.

In 2015, he created the Literary Map of B.C., a digital platform highlighting the cultural importance of 190 B.C. authors and locations. It contains the equivalent of nine books of original text and photos. He has simultaneously selected, and wrote text for, more than fifty literary landmarks erected in Vancouver for the Vancouver Public Library.

In 2016, with historian Richard Mackie, he created The Ormsby Review designed to double the number of serious book reviews in B.C. For three unfunded years they gathered more than 250 academics and other experts to be contributors; publishing more than 600 reviews and essays, and one book, via the BCBookLook platform, before he sold the enterprise to Richard Mackie for $1.

In 2017, to mark the 30th anniversary of B.C. BookWorld, he raised funds to support a remote, impoverished village in eastern Tanzania, as well as a rehabilitation project nearby to support sufferers of epilepsy. He raised enough funds to successfully purchase and deliver a new, four-door, heavy-duty pick up truck to support the village of Luhombero. The website he created is called And in 2019, he created a public service site in appreciation of his friend, Leonard Cohen, at


Alan Twigg's books include biographies, interviews, a sports memoir, a series on B.C. literary history and histories of Belize and Cuba. Recently, he edited Undaunted, an anthology to mark the twenty-fifth anniversary of B.C. BookWorld; he provided the introduction for Peter Sekirin's Memories of Chekhov (2011); and he spent four years producing the biography of the last remaining physician to have worked alongside Albert Schweitzer in Africa, Moon Madness: Dr. Louise Aall, Sixty Years of Healing in Africa (2019).

In 2008, he wrote the first literary book about the beautiful game from a Canadian perspective, Full-Time: A Soccer Story, It's a year-long account of Vancouver soccer players who travel to southern Spain to compete against much younger teams, including European ex-professionals. It was re-released in a Readers Digest version in 2010. Subsequently, in 2013, he returned to Europe and won a gold medal in soccer for Canada at the World Masters Games in Turin, Italy. His undefeated team from Vancouver allowed one goal in seven games to win the world championship for men over age fifty.

In 2009, he wrote Tibetans in Exile: The Dalai Lama & The Woodcocks, a book about the private lives of the prolific anarchist George Woodcock and his Buddhist wife Ingeborg Woodcock who befriended the Dalai Lama in 1961. Their charitable aid work gave rise to two, still operational, non-profit societies, Tibetan Refugee Aid Society and Canada India Village Aid.

In 2010, he published the first critical and comprehensive overview of B.C. literature, The Essentials: 150 Great B.C. Books & Authors, the fourth and largest volume in his series on the literary history of British Columbia that includes First Invaders (2004), Aboriginality (2005) and Thompson's Highway (2006). He has also been a contributor to books about Leonard Cohen, Robertson Davies, Margaret Atwood, Matt Cohen and the Georgia Straight, as well as assorted anthologies.

His first book of literary history, Vancouver & Its Writers, was shortlisted for the Hubert Evans Non-Fiction Prize in 1987. First Invaders was shortlisted for the same award in 2005, the same year he won First Prize in the Lush Creative Non-Fiction contest, sponsored by subTerrain magazine. His award-winning memoir about the death of his father was re-published in The Utne Reader. The Essentials received an honourable mention from the B.C. Historical Society for its annual Lieutenant Governor's Medal for B.C. history, distinct from the Lieutenant Governor's Award for Literary Excellence.


Alan Twigg has founded or co-founded most of the major literary awards in British Columbia.

He co-founded the B.C. Book Prizes in 1985, serving as an unpaid executive director and chief fundraiser during a rebuilding stage in the 1990s, providing continuous management support until 2001 when he was briefly sideline by a brain tumour. In 1995, he solely founded the George Woodcock Lifetime Achievement Award for an outstanding literary career in British Columbia; he has continuously managing all aspects ever since. In 2004 he co-founded the George Ryga Award for Social Awareness, for which he provides all administrative services on a volunteer basis. In 2012 he co-founded the Basil Stuart-Stubbs Prize for outstanding academic book about British Columbia, an award he also co-manages on a volunteer basis. As well, he founded and coordinated the VanCity Book Prize for best B.C. book pertaining to women's issues. He coordinated the City of Vancouver Book Prize for five years and he has organized various events to honour the province's senior writers, including a series of events for and about British Columbia's foremost man of letters, George Woodcock, in 1994.


Among the various documentary films he has written, produced and hosted are George Woodcock, Anarchist of Cherry Street; Jeannette Armstrong: Knowledge-Keeper; and Spilsbury's Coast which aired nationally on CBC. Other documentary film subjects have included Eric Nicol, Peter Trower, the B.C. Book Prizes and the activist/poet Bud Osborn, for whom he also produced a music CD called Hundred Block Rock.

He has hosted a CBC television series about B.C. authors and he frequently serves as a host for public events. For several years he contributed to Sheryl MacKay's CBC Radio program North by Northwest with an ongoing series about important B.C. books called 'Turning Up the Volumes.'

From 1995 to 1998 he was an editorial page columnist for The Province, a stint that was terminated by the intervention of Conrad Black, the owner, who objected to his opinions. He has contributed to many other publications such as Quill & Quire, BC Historical News, Georgia Straight, Globe & Mail, British Columbia History, Lived Experience, Toronto Star, Ottawa Citizen, Maclean's, Vancouver Sun, Step and Pacific Northwest Review of Books.

For approximately three years in the early 1980s, he wrote a weekly theatre column for Georgia Straight, taking over the column from Tom Shandel and participating in the inaugural Jessie Richardson Theatre Awards. He edited one issue of the Georgia Straight newspaper. He later wrote and performed an original musical at the Arts Club Revue Theatre, Where The Songs Come From. In 2013, he resumed providing theatre reviews for The Province and for, a site managed by veteran actor Jerry Wasserman, under the pseudonym Paul Durras.

Alan Twigg was a founding board member of the Canadian Centre for Studies in Publishing and he has taught classes at the Simon Fraser University, University of British Columbia, University of Victoria and various high schools. He briefly taught a course on the history of B.C. publishing and literature for Simon Fraser University, a university he had dropped out of in 1971, after one year of study, choosing to instead drive a garbage truck.

He served a two-year term as a Library Trustee on the board of directors for the Vancouver Public Library (2011-2012). He has also served on the City of Vancouver's Public Art Committee and he has hosted countless literary events, including the Simon Fraser University's third annual Symposium on the Novel at the Wosk Centre for Dialogue in 2004 and the 25th annual B.C. Book Prizes gala in 2009.

For five years he collected and sent nursing and medical supplies to Belize, in conjunction with DHL. In 1999 he coordinated a fundraising campaign for the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, an organization he continues to support. In 2007, he organized and hosted Reckoning 07, a conference on the past and future of British Columbia writing and publishing, held at Simon Fraser University in conjunction with the 20th anniversary of BC BookWorld.

He is a fifth-generation Vancouverite. Relatives of both his mother and father lived in British Columbia in the 1800s. [Major-General John Twigge and his brother Samuel Knox Twigge, came to Canada in 1887 and to Vancouver before 1890. Twigg Island at the mouth of the Fraser River was named after their nephew, Conley, who had a dairy farm there. In the 1930s, Harold Despard Twigg, a provincial MLA, tried to organize a political movement to have Vancouver Island secede from British Columbia. A relative on the maternal side, lumber baron William Tait, built the turn-of-the-century Glen Brae mansion in Shaughnessey that became better known as Canuck Place.]


Moon Madness: Dr. Louise Aall, Sixty Years of Healing in Africa (Ronsdale 2019).

Undaunted: The Best of BC BookWorld (Ronsdale, 2013). 978-1-55380-253-2 242 p.

The Essentials: 150 Great B.C. Books & Authors. (Ronsdale, 2010). 978-1-55380-108-5 320 p.

Tibetans in Exile: The Dalai Lama & The Woodcocks (Ronsdale, 2009). 978-1-55380-079-8 271 p.

Full-Time: A Soccer Story (Douglas Gibson Books, McClelland & Stewart, 2008). 978-0-7710-8645-8 293 p.

Thompson's Highway: British Columbia's Fur Trade, 1800-1850 (Ronsdale, 2006) 978-1-55380-039-2 253 p.

Understanding Belize: A Historical Guide (Harbour 2006). 240 p.

Aboriginality: The Literary Origins of British Columbia (Ronsdale 2005). 260 p.

First Invaders: The Literary Origins of British Columbia (Ronsdale 2004). 229 p.

101 Top Historical Sites of Cuba (Beach Holme 2004). 126 p.

Intensive Care: A Memoir (Anvil Press 2002). 80 p.

Cuba: A Concise History for Travellers (Harbour, 2004; Penguin Books 2002; Bluefield Books 2000). 198 p.

Twigg's Directory of 1001 BC Writers (Crown Publications 1992). 194 p.

Strong Voices: Conversations with 50 Canadian Writers (Harbour 1988). 291 p.

Vander Zalm, From Immigrant to Premier: A Political Biography (Harbour 1986).

Vancouver and Its Writers (Harbour 1986). 165 p.

Hubert Evans: The First Ninety-Three Years (Harbour 1985).

For Openers: Conversations with 24 Canadian Writers (Harbour 1981).


First Invaders: The Literary Origins of British Columbia, Vol. 1 (Peking University Press, 2013)

Aboriginality: The Literary Origins of British Columbia, Vol. 2 (Peking University Press, 2013)

Thompson's Highway: British Columbia's Fur Trade, 1800-1850: The Literary Origins of British Columbia, Vol. 3 (Peking University Press, 2013)


Conversations with Robertson Davies (University Press of Mississippi 1989)

Margaret Atwood, Conversations (Firefly 1990)

Take This Waltz: A Celebration of Leonard Cohen (The Muses Company 1994)

Uncommon Ground: A Celebration of Matt Cohen (Knopf 2002)

Memories of Chekhov: Accounts of the Writer from His Family, Friends and Contemporaries (Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland Press, 2011). Edited and translated by Peter Sekirin; Introduction by Alan Twigg


George Woodcock: Anarchist of Cherry Street

Eric Nicol: Look Back in Humour

Peter Trower: The Men They Were Then

Jeannette Armstrong: Knowledge-Keeper of the Okanagan

Spilsbury's Coast

Review of the author's work by BC Studies:
The Essentials: 150 Great B.C. Books & Authors
First Invaders: The Literary Origins of British Columbia
Thompson's Highway: British Columbia's Fur Trade, 1800-1850

[Various television interviews about Full-Time are available via YouTube. Also a composer and musician, Alan Twigg performed one of his songs at The Playhouse Theatre during Sam Sullivan's Public Salon in November of 2012 / For more author information, go to]

For further information, go to

[BCBW 2019] "Cuba" "Belize"

[caption id="attachment_21940" align="alignleft" width="640"] For fifty years, Alan Twigg has specialized in writing about British Columbia. Here he stands alongside the hull of The Brico, once used for laying cable along the BC coast, then dragged ashore near Fanny Bay and used for a restaurant in the 1990s at 7366 Island Highway, then left derelict. [photo: Campbell River Museum][/caption]