Publishers Penguin Random House Ireland have announced the death of novelist and short story writer William Trevor (1928-2016). According to his obituary in the New York Times, he was best known for his “mournful, sometimes darkly funny short stories and novels about the small struggles of unremarkable people .” He began with a career in teaching, in the course of which he taught in what the Guardian describes as “an Evelyn Waugh-style academy in Ulster.” He drifted into advertising, where he started writing fiction in his spare time. The New York Times notes that Evelyn Waugh was among his early boosters in a description of Trevor’s 1964 novel The Old Boys:
Evelyn Waugh called the novel “uncommonly well written, gruesome, funny and inspired,” and it won the Hawthornden Prize. As a writer, Mr. Trevor was on his way, and Notley’s lost one of the least promising copywriters it had ever hired.
According to the Guardian, Waugh’s support for the book was in the form of a pre-publication testimonial, rather than a review. Waugh had a habit of supporting the early work of writers in whom he spotted talent, including that of such contemporaries of Trevor as Muriel Spark and Angus Wilson. Waugh was also a winner of the Hawthornden Prize, which we was awarded for his life of Edmund Campion.