Elleston Trevor was born Trevor Dudley-Smith on February 17, 1920, in Bromley, Kent, the son of Walter Smith and Florence (née Elleston) Smith. Educated at Yardley Court Preparatory School and Sevenoaks School, Kent, Trevor was an apprentice race car driver from 1937 to 1938, but with the outbreak of World War II joined the Royal Air Force and served as a flight engineer from 1939 to 1945. He turned to full-time writing in 1946, and in 1947 married Jonquil Burgess, with whom he had one son, Peregrine Scott, who would serve as his literary manager. Before turning to the genre that made him famous, Trevor initially focused on wartime stories about Dunkirk and other key historical events.
Trevor and his family lived in Spain for a time and then in France from 1958 to 1973. In 1973 they moved to the United States, where they lived in Fountain Hills, Arizona. Trevor’s interests included chess, travel, designing model airplanes, and astronomy, with the latter helping him “to keep a sense of perspective.” Trevor published novels for adults and adolescents as well as plays and stories. When asked his reason for writing, he first replied, “Complete inability to do anything else,” later adding, “I don’t know.” Finally, he answered that it certainly was not to escape life, which he found “too darned interesting,” but maybe it was to “escape some imprisoning memory of infancy . . . such as we all have deep in the subconscious.” The Mugar Memorial Library, Boston University, houses an Elleston and Jonquil Trevor Collection, but post-1980 materials are located at Arizona State University.