I have met many famous people in my life but the one person I didn’t meet but would’ve liked to is William Trevor. Born William Trevor Cox, he was a brilliant writer and in my view unequalled master of the short story. The pictured dog-eared copy from my collection of his works contains gems which I read again and again. One of them, The Teddy Bears’ Picnic, I read again this morning and laughed at the subtle humour and was saddened at the dark twist at the end and that it even ended.
Many of the stories in that collection could serve as a paradigm of exemplary story-telling or careful and profound examination and analysis of the human psyche and crumbling relationships, but I chose that story as it’s my favourite.
I first discovered William Trevor when I was an English Lit student and The Children of Dynmouth was on the required reading list. To say I was hooked is a cliche and an understatement. The novel became my ‘Desert Island’ or ‘long train journey’ choice and remains so, while others like Felicia’s Journey, The Love Department and Miss Gomez and the Brethren are just a few of the ones I can re-read and re-read. Ten years ago, while travelling light through Africa, my Trevor collection went with me, one of the few items I regarded as essential as a toothbrush.
The Children of Dynmouth was adapted for television as a Screen 2 drama and is, I think, still available albeit wobbly on Youtube. Felicia’s Journey the award-winning film starred Bob Hoskins as Mr Hilditch. If I owned a television I would wish I had both of these on DVD.
Trevor died in November 2016 and there were many eulogies and tributes and very deservedly. Often, eulogies and tributes fade with time, so nearly two years on I wanted to help in some small way to keep his memory alive and put on record in this anthology that the fact that I am writing it is due in part to William Trevor. Sadly he will never know that, because I never met him. And sadly I wish I could write half as well as the man!
William Simeon Aston