She studied art history and writing at the University of Victoria where she received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. Her Master of Fine Arts degree came from the University of British Columbia, her MSc in Writing and Cultural Politics came from the University of Edinburgh as did her PhD where she wrote on writers' houses/museums and resonant things with a focus on the Victorian era and thing theory via Heidegger. She currently teaches Creative Writing part-time at Kwantlen Polytechnic University. Hunter's research interests include material culture, museums, books-as-things, Victorian writers, travelling libraries and ephemera.
Her 2002 novel Stay was adapted for film by Wiebke Von Carolsfeld and released as a Telefilm / Irish Film Board co-production in 2013, premiering at the Toronto International Film Festival. It stars Aidan Quinn and Taylor Schilling. Her most recent novel, The World Before Us, set in a UK museum, was published by Doubleday, Canada in 2014 and by Hamish Hamilton in the UK, Hogarth Press in the USA, and Marchand de Feuilles in Quebec. It won the 2015 Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize and was a New York Times Editor's Choice Book and a Chatelaine Book Club pick. Aislinn is a Contributing Editor to Arc Poetry Magazine and member of PEN.
In the spring of 2017 her third book of poetry, Linger, Still, will be published by Gaspereau Press.
She has been selected to be a Canadian War Artist and will embed with the army in 2017.
- 2001: Into the Early Hours (Polestar) ISBN 1-55192-498-6
- 2001: What's Left Us (Raincoast) ISBN 1-55192-412-9
- 2002: Stay (Raincoast) ISBN 1-55192-568-0
- 2004: The Possible Past (Polestar) ISBN 1-55192-721-7
- 2009: A Peepshow with Views of the Interior (lyric essays) (Palimpsest Press, Fall, 2009) ISBN 978-0-9784917-6-5
- 2014: The World Before Us (Doubleday) ISBN 978-0-385-68066-0
Awards and recognition
- 1996: nominee, Journey Prize (poetry)
- 1996: nominee, National Book Award (fiction)
- 2000: nominee, National Magazine Award
- 2002: winner, Gerald Lampert Award, Into the Early Hours
- 2002: shortlisted, Danuta Gleed Award, What's Left Us
- 2002: finalist, Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize, Into the Early Hours
- 2003: finalist, Books in Canada/Amazon First Novel Award, Stay
- 2002: shortlisted, ReLit Award, What's Left Us
- 2004: shortlisted, Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize, The Possible Past
- 2004: shortlisted, Pat Lowther Award, The Possible Past
- 2004: shortlisted, ReLit Prize for Poetry, The Possible Past
- 2015: winner, The Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize, The World Before Us
- Hunter, A.; Jacobsen, S.D. (5 June 2013). "Aislinn Hunter, PhD (In-Progress): Instructor of Creative Writing at Kwantlen Polytechnic University". In-Sight (2.A): 48–55.