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Photograph of William  Trevor
©Irish Times

William Trevor

Born in 1928 in Mitchelstown, Co. Cork, he was educated at Trinity College, Dublin, and has worked as a sculptor, teacher and advertising copywriter. His many novels include The Old Boys (1964), which won the Hawthornden Prize; The Love Department (1966); Elizabeth Alone (1973); and The Silence in the Garden (1988), which won the Yorkshire Post Book of the Year Award. The Children of Dynmouth (1976) and Fools of Fortune (1983) both won the Whitbread Award. Felicia's Journey (1994) won both the Whitbread and Sunday Express Book of the Year awards, and was made into a film in 1999. In 2002, a new novel, The Story of Lucy Gault, was shortlisted for the Booker Prize and the Whitbread Prize. His short story collections were published in one volume in 1992, and a collection of autobiographical essays appeared in 1993. Another collection, The Hill Bachelors (2000), won the 2001 Irish Times Literature Prize for Fiction and the Macmillan Silver Pen Award for Short Stories. In 1992 he received the Sunday Times Award for Literary Excellence and in 1999 the David Cohen British Literature Prize for lifetime achievement. In 1977 he was awarded an honorary CBE, and in 2002 he received an honorary knighthood for his services to literature. He has won the Whitbread Prize three times and has been nominated five times for the Booker Prize, most recently for his novel Love and Summer (2009), which was also shortlisted for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award in 2011. He was elected Saoi of Aosdána in a ceremony presided over by President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins on 15 September 2015, and received the symbol of the office of Saoi, the gold Torc.  He is a member of the Irish Academy of Letters, and lives in Devon, England.

Statement by the Toscaireacht on the passing of William Trevor

Aosdána has learned with great sadness of the death in Devon of the novelist and short story writer William Trevor who was recently elected a Saoi. Born into a Church of Ireland family in 1928, in Mitchelstown, Co Cork, Trevor was educated in Trinity College, where he studied history. After working for some years as a sculptor, he realised that his genius was not to be expressed in three-dimensional form but in the many dimensions of human psychology he had observed in his early life as the son of a bank official, moving from town to town all around Munster. He had heard the music in ‘The Ballroom of Romance’ and never forgot it. His profound knowledge of the Irish character and his sympathy for ordinary people everywhere were matched with a restrained yet effervescent and humorous prose style that was highly visual. He had an eye for the word.

As a figure in the political history of these islands, our colleague has a notable and lasting symbolic value. In 2002 Queen Elizabeth awarded him an honorary knighthood and in 2016 the President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, travelled to Devon to confer on him the honour of Saoi of Aosdána. We send our sympathies to his wife Jane and family. He is irreplacable.

Nov 2016

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