The death has been announced of William Trevor, the highly esteemed Irish writer of short stories and novels. Lauded by fellow authors, from John Banville to President of the Republic Michael D Higgins, William Trevor has been cited as an inspiration by numerous literary figures, compared to Chekhov amongst others, and celebrated, in the words of novelist Joseph O’Connor, as ‘…..a peerless writer, a laureate of the settled sadness of so many Irish lives…’
The winner of numerous literary awards Trevor was elected Saoi of Aosdana last year, joining Edna O’Brien as one of only seven Saoi (wise ones) of the Irish affiliation of creative artists. In 2002 he received an honorary knighthood from the Queen in recognition of his services to literature.
Describing himself as a middle-class nomad, William Trevor was born in County Cork in 1928 and moved around Ireland throughout an unhappy childhood, his father’s job requiring constant relocation and thus unintentionally providing Trevor with the raw material for his fiction, as he cast the eye of the proverbial outsider on to the quiet dramas of small town Irish lives. Trevor attended eleven different schools but the first of these was the Loreto in Youghal, Co. Cork, where he was one of the few Protestant children. He later wrote of this experience: ‘I was treated fondly and recall neither prejudice nor attempts at religious influence.’
It is not likely that Trevor ever thought of himself as part of the wider Loreto family but perhaps the teachers in that Loreto school in Youghall could claim to have had a positive influence in the formative years of one of Ireland’s greatest writers.
Anyone wanting to sample what Anne Enright describes as a ‘…watchful, unsentimental writer, alert to frailty and malice….’could do no better than look out his collection of short stories from 1972 ‘The Ballroom of Romance.’