Trevor, Elleston

By Contemporary Authors *

PERSONAL: Born February 17, 1920, in England; name originally Trevor Dudley-Smith; son of Walter and Florence (Elleston) Smith; married Jonquil Burgess (an ex-WAAF, onetime beauty contest winner, now her husband's literary manager), 1947; children: Peregrine Scott (son). Education: Attended Yardley Court Preparatory School, 1928-32, Sevenoaks Public School, 1932-38. Home: Domaine de Chateauneuf, Valbonne, Alpes Maritimes, France [Fountain Hills, Arizona].

CAREER: Apprentice racing-driver for two years prior to World War II. Full-time writer, 1946--. Military service: Royal Air Force, 1940-46. Awards, honors: Mystery Writers of America, Edgar Award for The Quiller Memorandum, 1966 [, French Grand Prix de Littérature Policière].

SIDELIGHTS: Trevor starting writing in off-duty hours in various Spitfire hangers during the war, producing a novel a fortnight under a dozen pseudonyms. Pressed for details concerning these early books, Trevor's wife, who also is her husband's agent, said that all the books were sold outright for small sums to various publishers, and, while they were valuable training, are not regarded by her or her husband as representative work, and they prefer to forget them.
     Trevor says concerning himself: "Lived in Spain. Now living in France. Passions: the bullfight, the Spanish guitar, kite-flying, model cars, red wine, and curved pipes. Reason for writing: complete ability to do anything else."
     In a more serious vein, Trevor told Contemporary Authors: "There are two questions, often put to me, that have the same answer. 'Why do you write?' and 'What gave you the idea for this novel?' Answer: 'I don't know.'" As an illustration he points out that the word "Saigon" in a newspaper headline sent him on a train of thought that resulted in The Burning Shore, a novel about an imaginary town called Pasang.
     "It is said that we read to escape. Some authors write to escape. (So this could be the answer to that first question: why do I write?) But to escape just what? Not life—it's too darned interesting! To escape some imprisoning memory of infancy, maybe, such as we all have deep in the subconscious. Then why not take others along with me…"
     Trevor's first popular success as a book was The Big Pick-Up, the basis for the film "Dunkirk," produced by Ealing Studios and given a royal premiere. Squadron Airborne and The Killing-Ground completed his war trilogy. Some of his short stories have been adapted for radio and television plays, and his stage play, "The Search," was adapted for British television in 1963. Flight of the Phoenix and The Quiller Memorandum were filmed by 20th Century-Fox and released in 1966. Harold Pinter wrote the screenplay for the latter.

     [Trevor has lived in Spain and France, but now lives in the United States. An Elleston and Jonquil Trevor Collection was set up at Boston University in 1965, but material written since 1980 is now housed at Arizona State University.

HOBBIES AND OTHER INTERESTS: Chess, traveling, designing model airplanes, and astronomy, which "helps him to keep a sense of perspective."]

Last modified: Saturday, July 21, 2001

This entry was taken from Contemporary Authors, 1969; Volumes 5-8, First Revision. © 1963, 1969 Gale Research Company.
*Bracketed text comes from Something About The Author, 1982; Volume 28. © 1982 Gale Research Company.