William Trevor Cox Biography


(Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)

William Trevor was born William Trevor Cox on May 24, 1928, in Mitchelstown, County Cork, Ireland. His parents, William Cox and Gertie Davis, married in Dublin during a period of civil war. By the time of his birth, the war had abated, and his parents had moved from the city. His father, a bank official, was required by his position to relocate frequently. As a result, Trevor’s early education was sporadic. At one time, he was tutored by a young girl; at another, he was the only Irish Protestant enrolled in a Catholic convent school. The daily life and Catholic customs in small Irish towns that he came to know as a youngster provided many of the images and much of the content of his later work. As a young boy living in Tipperary, he developed a love for films and enjoyed reading detective fiction. Both of these genres influenced his style.

Trevor attended boarding school in Dublin at age twelve. He studied sculpture under Oisin Kelly at St. Columba’s College. Later he attended Trinity College, Dublin, graduating with a B.A. in history. There he met Jane Ryan, whom he would marry in 1951. They moved to County Armagh, Northern Ireland, where both worked as teachers. He continued in sculpture, winning a competition in 1952. He and his wife emigrated to England, where he continued as an artist, holding a one-man show in Bath in 1958 and another in Dublin in 1959. By the end of the decade, his sculpture had become abstract, and he was no longer happy with it. He turned to writing, publishing his first novel, A Standard of Behaviour, under the name William Trevor in 1958.

After the couple’s first child was born, Trevor sought a more lucrative position in advertising while continuing to write short stories. Encouraged by an editor at Bodley, he wrote another novel. When the novel, The Old Boys, won the Hawthornden Prize in 1965, Trevor left his position in advertising and turned to writing full time.


(Literary Essentials: Short Fiction Masterpieces)

Born William Trevor Cox in Ireland’s County Cork, William Trevor, the son of a bank manager, spent much of his childhood living in small Irish towns and attending a series of boarding and day schools that included St. Columba’s in Dublin. After earning a B.A. in history from Dublin’s Trinity College, Trevor, a Protestant, began work as a sculptor and schoolmaster, taking his first job as an instructor of history in Armagh, Northern Ireland. In 1952, Trevor married Jane Ryan and moved to England, where he spent the next eight years teaching art at two prestigious public schools—first at Rugby and then at Taunton. Between 1960 and 1965, Trevor worked as a copywriter at an advertising agency in London; he simultaneously began devoting an increasing portion of his free time to the writing of fiction. By the early 1970’s, following the appearance of several novels and a steady stream of stories in such publications as Encounter, The New Yorker, and London Magazine, Trevor’s reputation was secure. The father of two sons, Trevor settled in Devon and continued to write full time.


(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

Born William Trevor Cox in Mitchelstown, county Cork, Trevor spent his childhood in provincial Ireland. After attending a number of Irish schools, and later Trinity College in Dublin, he began his career as an instructor and sculptor, teaching history and art in Northern Ireland and England. He married Jane Ryan in 1952, and in 1960 they moved to London, where Trevor worked as an advertising copywriter. In describing this period of his life (1960-1965), he has noted the boredom he experienced as well as the rewards of the job: The company had given him a typewriter to work on, thus offering him the impetus to start writing stories.

Trevor then moved to Devon, England, to write full time in his home, an old mill surrounded by forty acres. Often described as an Anglo-Irish writer, Trevor actually transcends that label, having once said that the advantage of living in England is that “it is sometimes easier to write about your own people from a foreign country,” and having developed the pattern of spending half the year traveling in Italy or in Ticino, the nub of Switzerland that juts down into Italy, and visiting Ireland during the other half of the year.


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

William Trevor’s fertile imagination can scarcely be summed up in two adjectives, but if one were so limited, then “gothic” and “elegiac” would do very well. Though not an experimentalist, he has developed a flexible narrative form that conveys a wide variety of attitudes, shifts of tone, speaking voices, and descriptive passages that, while not pretending to rival the accomplishments of his master, James Joyce, have succeeded in establishing Trevor as a leading fiction writer on both sides of the Atlantic. Born William Trevor Cox in a small town in County Cork, Ireland, Trevor was educated in a haphazard way until he entered St. Columba’s College in Dublin in 1942. In 1950 he earned his baccalaureate from Trinity College and for the next decade or so eked out a living teaching school while working as a sculptor. Although one of his sculptures won a prize in 1952, he gave up sculpting a few years afterward in favor of writing. Meanwhile, he had left Ireland for England, where he eventually made his home in Devonshire after teaching in Rugby and Taunton and then working in advertising in London.{$S[A]Cox, William Trevor;Trevor, William}

Moving to England was motivated strictly by economics, as work was hard to find in Ireland after graduation from Trinity College. Nevertheless, Trevor evidently found the English social and intellectual climate congenial, which explains his continued residence. More important, he found there a singular advantage to his writing, the advantage one enjoys as an acute observer of a culture different from one’s own. Hence, his early stories and novels treat English subjects and involve English men and women; only later did he begin to focus upon his native Ireland. Perhaps the advantage of living away from his homeland for an extended period gave him the perspective he felt he needed. In any event, while books such as The Old Boys and The Children of Dynmouth deal impressively with English themes and English characters, short stories such as “Attracta” in Lovers of Their Time, and Other Stories and the title story in The News from Ireland, and Other Stories reveal Trevor’s sure handling of Irish subjects, in both historical and contemporary settings.

The gothic aspect of Trevor’s imagination shows itself in the assemblage of misfits, oddballs, and eccentrics that populate almost all of...

(The entire section is 977 words.)