In William Trevor's first novel, The Old Boys, a group of septuagenarians' revive schoolboy conflicts in the election of the President of the Association. But now that they possess a fiercer understanding of the things in life that matter—power, revenge, hatred, love, and the failure of love—intrigue and deceit result. In his second novel, The Boarding House, William Wagner Bird takes in boarders whom society would never miss. With these misfits, Trevor has created a world where people are identified by their ...
In William Trevor's first novel, The Old Boys, a group of septuagenarians' revive schoolboy conflicts in the election of the President of the Association. But now that they possess a fiercer understanding of the things in life that matter—power, revenge, hatred, love, and the failure of love—intrigue and deceit result. In his second novel, The Boarding House, William Wagner Bird takes in boarders whom society would never miss. With these misfits, Trevor has created a world where people are identified by their quirks rather than by their character. In his third novel, The Love Department, Lady Delores cures the heartaches of the lonely wives of Wimbledon with inimitable flourish and finesse. When her newest protege, Edward Blakeston-Smith is sent on a mission to discover the secrets of seductive and scheming Septimus Tuam and stop him in his tracks—he learns about love and its friends and enemies.
In these early novels, one of the acclaimed masters of twentieth-century fiction created dark and compassionate characters that have become hallmarks of his extraordinary literary career.
"One of the very best writers of our era."—The Washington Post Book World
"Mr. Trevor's sheer intensity of entry into the lives of his people ... proceeds to uncover new layers of yearning and pain, new angles of vision and credible thought." —The New York Times Book Review
William Trevor is the author of twenty-nine books, including Felicia’s Journey, which won the Whitbread Book of the Year Award and was made into a motion picture. In 1996 he was the recipient of the Lannan Award for Fiction. In 2001, he won the Irish Times Literature Prize for fiction. Two of his books were chosen by The New York Times as best books of the year, and his short stories appear regularly in the New Yorker. In 1997, he was named Honorary Commander of the British Empire. He lives in Devon, England.
"William Trevor is an extraordinarily mellifluous writer, seemingly incapable of composing an ungraceful sentence," Brooke Adams once wrote in the New York Times Book Review. Hailed by the New Yorker as "probably the greatest living writer of short stories in the English language," Trevor has also written over a dozen acclaimed novels as well as several plays. His characters are often people whose desires have been unfulfilled, and who come to rely on various forms of self-deception and fantasy to make their lives bearable.
Trevor was born in 1928 to a middle-class, Protestant family in Ireland. After graduating from Trinity College with a degree in history, he attempted to carve out a career as a sculptor. He moved to England in 1954 and exhibited his sculptures there; he also wrote his first novel, A Standard of Behavior, which was published in 1958 but met with little critical success. His second novel, The Old Boys, won the 1964 Hawthornden Prize for Literature and marked the beginning of a long and prolific career as a novelist, short-story writer and playwright.
Three of Trevor's novels have won the prestigious Whitbread Novel of the Year Award: The Children of Dynmouth, Fools of Fortune and Felicia's Journey. Felicia's Journey, about a pregnant Irish girl who goes to England to find the lover who abandoned her, was adapted for the screen in 1999 by director Atom Egoyan. Trevor, who has described himself as a short-story writer who enjoys writing novels, has also written such celebrated short stories as "Three People," in which a woman who murdered her disabled sister harbors an unspoken longing for the man who provided her with an alibi, and "The Mourning," about a young man who is pressed by political activists into planting a bomb (both from The Hill Bachelors).
Some critics have noted a change in Trevor's work over the years: his early stories tend to contain comic sketches of England, while his later ones describe Ireland with the elegiac tone of an expatriate. Trevor, who now lives in Devon, England, has suggested that he has something of an outsider's view of both countries. "I feel a sense of freshness when I come back [to Ireland]," he said in a 2000 Irish radio interview. "If I lived in, say, Dungarvan or Skibbereen, I think I wouldn't notice things."
As it stands, Trevor is clearly a writer who notices things, just as one of his characters notices "the glen and the woods and the seashore, the flat rocks where the shrimp pools were, the room she woke up in, the chatter of the hens in the yard, the gobbling of the turkeys, her footsteps the first marks on the sand when she walked to Kilauran to school" (The Story of Lucy Gault). Yet as Trevor told an interviewer for The Irish Times, "You mustn't write about what you know. You must use your imagination. Fiction is an act of the imagination." Trevor's fertile imagination captures, as Alice McDermott wrote in The Atlantic, "the terrible beauty of Ireland's fate, and the fate of us all -- at the mercy of history, circumstance, and the vicissitudes of time."
Good To Know
When Trevor was growing up, he wanted to be a clerk in the Bank of Ireland -- following in the footsteps of his father, James William Cox. Cox's career as a bank manager took the family all over Ireland, and Trevor attended over a dozen different schools before entering Trinity College in Dublin.
Trevor married his college sweetheart, Jane Ryan, in 1952. After the birth of their first son, Trevor worked for a time as an advertising copywriter in London. He also sculpted and worked as an art teacher, but gave up his sculpting after it became "too abstract."
In addition to the 1999 film Felicia's Journey, two other movies have been based on Trevor's works: Fools of Fortune (1990), directed by Pat O'Connor, and Attracta (1983), directed by Kieran Hickey. According to Trevor's agent, the plays Reading Turgenev and My House in Umbria are also being adapted for the screen.
Trevor is also the author of several plays, most of which are not in print in the U.S. Works include Scenes from an Album, Marriages, and Autumn Sunshine.