William Trevor’s reputation rests primarily on his fiction, especially the short stories that have been published widely in periodicals in the United States and Great Britain and in collections. His novels have received acclaim as well. Approximately thirty-seven of his stories have been adapted for British television. At least fifteen of his plays have been adapted for radio, a few specifically written for radio. Some of his stories and novels have been adapted to the screen. He also has written some nonfiction, A Writer’s Ireland: Landscape in Literature (1984) and Excursions in the Real World (1993), a collection of memoirs.
William Trevor has been a prolific writer, capturing scenes of ordinary life and winning many awards. Although he no longer lives in his native Ireland, he considers himself an Irish writer. Many of his works deal with the history of strife and animosity that has plagued Irish life. His novel The Old Boys (1964) won the Hawthornden Prize for literature in 1965. In 1976 his novel The Children of Dynmouth (1976) won the Whitbread Award for fiction as did his novel Fools of Fortune (1983) in 1983. He received The Hudson Review Bennett Award in 1991. His novel Felicia’s Journey (1994) won the Sunday Express Book of the Year Award and the Whitbread Book of the Year Award in 1994. The Hill Bachelors (2000) received the Irish Times Irish Literature Prize for fiction in 2001. He has been awarded the Royal Society of Literature award and the Allied Irish Banks prize for literature. His radio play Beyond the Pale received the Giles Cooper Award for the best radio play of 1980. Another radio play, Autumn Sunshine, was included in the 1982 collection of the best radio plays of the year. In recognition for his standing as a world-class author, he was made honorary Commander of the British Empire, a distinction awarded few Irish citizens. He is a member of the Irish Academy of Letters. In 1999, he received the David Cohen British Literature Prize.
Though probably best known as a writer of short stories, William Trevor has also written television and radio scripts, plays, and numerous novels. Among Trevor’s novels, The Old Boys, Miss Gomez and the Brethren, Elizabeth Alone (1973), The Children of Dynmouth (1976), Fools of Fortune (1983), Felicia’s Journey (1994), and Death in Summer (1998) have been particularly praised. He has also written two nonfiction works, A Writer’s Ireland: Landscape in Literature (1984) and Excursions in the Real World (1993).
William Trevor is widely regarded as one of the finest storytellers and craftsmen writing in English. In Great Britain, his work has long been widely and favorably reviewed and has frequently been adapted for radio and television broadcast by the British Broadcasting Corporation. In 1964, Trevor’s second novel, The Old Boys, was awarded the Hawthornden Prize; his fourth collection, Angels at the Ritz, and Other Stories, was hailed by writer Graham Greene as “one of the finest collections, if not the best, since James Joyce’s Dubliners.” In addition, Trevor has won the Royal Society of Literature Award, the Allied Irish Banks’ Prize for Literature, and the Whitbread Literary Award; he is also a member of the Irish Academy of Letters. In 1979, “in recognition for his valuable services to literature,” Trevor was named an honorary Commander, Order of the British Empire and in the same year received the Irish Community Prize. In 1980 and 1982, he received the Giles Cooper Award for radio plays; in 1983, he received a Jacob Award for a teleplay. He received D.Litt. degrees from the University of Exeter, Trinity College in Dublin, the University of Belfast, and the National University of Ireland in Cork. Trevor received the Sunday Express Book of the Year Award in 1994 for Felicia’s Journey. In the United States, knowledge of Trevor’s work increased markedly when The Stories of William Trevor, an omnibus collection, was published in 1983 and received wide and highly enthusiastic reviews.
In addition to novels, William Trevor has written numerous short stories, many of which have appeared in collections such as The Day We Got Drunk on Cake, and Other Stories (1967), Angels at the Ritz, and Other Stories (1975), The News from Ireland, and Other Stories (1986), and Outside Ireland: Selected Stories (1995); his short fiction has also been published in The New Yorker and other periodicals. Most critics recognize Trevor as a master of both the short story and the novel. His works of nonfiction include his memoir Excursions in the Real World (1993), and he has also written many plays for the stage, radio, and television. Several of his television plays have been based on his short stories.
Considered one of the most important storytellers in the English-speaking world, William Trevor is a member of the Irish Academy of Letters. His books have won numerous awards: The Children of Dynmouth, Fools of Fortune, and Felicia’s Journey each won the Whitbread Award; The Silence in the Garden won the Yorkshire Post’s Book of the Year Award; Reading Turgenev (a novella included in Two Lives) was short-listed for the Booker Prize; My House in Umbria (the other novella included in Two Lives) was short-listed for the Sunday Express Prize; and The Story of Lucy Gault was short-listed for both the Booker Prize and the Whitbread Award. Trevor has received the O. Henry Award for four of his short stories: “Sacred Statues” (2003), “The Dressmaker’s Child” (2006), “The Room” (2007), and “Folie à Deux” (2008). In 2008, he was awarded the Bob Hughes Lifetime Achievement Award in Irish Literature. In addition, a bronze sculpture of Trevor’s image by Liam Lavery and Eithne Ring was unveiled in his hometown, Mitchelstown, in 2004. Always aware of a moral vision, Trevor is known for his ability to combine this vision with sometimes chilling stories, usually about the psychology of eccentrics and outcasts of society.
Bonaccorso, Richard. “William Trevor’s Martyrs for Truth.” Studies in Short Fiction 34 (Winter, 1997): 113-118. Discusses two types of Trevor characters: those who try to evade the truth and those who gravitate, often in spite of themselves, toward it; argues that the best indicators of the consistency of Trevor’s moral vision may be his significant minority, those characters who find themselves pursuing rather than fleeing truth.
Fitzgerald-Hoyt, Mary. “The Influence of Italy in the Writings of William Trevor and Julia O’Faolain.” Notes on Modern Irish Literature 2 (1990): 61-67. Compares the two writers’ use of...
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