Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Allan, Peter John

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ALLAN, PETER JOHN (1825–1848), poet, was born at York on 6 June 1825. His father was Dr. Colin Allan, at one time chief medical officer of Halifax, Nova Scotia, and Allan's short life was mainly spent in that town and at Fredericton, New Brunswick, whither his family removed on Dr. Allan's retirement from professional life in 1836. For a time Allan studied law, but the success attending the publication of some youthful poems in a weekly journal induced him to devote himself exclusively to literature, and he rapidly prepared a volume of poems, which was sent in manuscript to England for publication. But before the book was printed, Allan was seized with fever, and died, after a brief illness, at the age of 23.

More than four years after Allan's death there was published in London the ‘Poetical Remains of Peter John Allan, Esq., with a short biographical notice, edited by the Rev. Henry Christmas, M.A., F.R.S.,’ 1853. The memoir, which is unaffectedly pathetic, is by the poet's brother, J. McGrigor Allan. The poems show much metrical skill, and the lyrics interspersed in a fragment of a drama, entitled ‘Pygmalion,’ are very melodious. But Allan evidently wrote largely under Byron's influence, and there is throughout the volume an absence of any striking originality. The majority of the poems are evidently very youthful compositions, and fail to justify the extravagant expectations expressed by Allan's friendly critics of his future achievements.

[Poetical Remains of P. J. Allan, edited by the Rev. Henry Christmas, 1853.]

S. L. L.