Gardiner was born in the British Eltham, attended the Charterhouse School and went to Paris to study under Gaston Maspero. Dissatisfied with the teaching he moved to the Queen's College, Oxford. There he studied, among other Hebrew and Arabic. After finishing his studies at Oxford in 1901, Gardiner went to Berlin for ten years. There he worked on the creation of the dictionary of the Egyptian language under Professor Adolf Erman. His first major publication was his most important, the Egyptian Grammar, which appeared in 1927. This grammar contains an Anglo- Egyptian and Egyptian- English dictionary, the famous Gardiner - list, a compilation of the most important hieroglyphs by thematic groups.
Alan Gardiner was able to devote his research without other commitments, as his father Henry John Gardiner supported him financially. He was regarded as extremely hardworking, only about two weeks allowed himself a year vacation and worked seven days a week. Gardiner married Hedwig von Rosen in 1901, with whom he had two sons and a daughter. He was awarded, among other honorary degrees from the universities of Cambridge, Durham, Oxford, 1948, he was knighted. When his most important discovery Gardiner looked at even the discovery of proto -Semitic characters on the Sinai, which he regarded as the precursor of the Phoenician alphabet.
- The Admonitions of an Egyptian Sage from a Hieratic Papyrus in Leiden. (Pap. Leiden 334 recto ), Leipzig 1909 ( reprint Hildesheim / Zurich / New York 1990).
- Notes on the Story of Sinuhe. Paris 1916.
- Ancient Egyptian Onomastica. Volume I -III, Oxford University Press, London, 1947.
- Egyptian Grammar. Being an Introduction to the Study of Hieroglyphs. 3rd Ed. , Rev., Oxford University Press, London, 1957 ( 1st edition 1927), ISBN 0-900416-35-1
- The Theory of Proper Names. A Controversial Essay. Oxford University Press, London / New York 1957.
- Egypt of the Pharaohs. 1961
- The Royal Canon of Turin. Griffith Institute, Oxford 1997, ISBN 0-900416-48-3.