Literary Birthday – 24 May – William Trevor

Happy Birthday, William Trevor, born 24 May 1928.


  1. I get melancholy if I don’t [write]. I need the company of people who don’t exist.
  2. Time is the most interesting thing to write about besides people—everything I write about has to do with it. Time is like air; it is there always, changing people and forming character.
  3. As a writer one doesn’t belong anywhere. Fiction writers, I think, are even more outside the pale, necessarily on the edge of society. Because society and people are our meat, one really doesn’t belong in the midst of society. The great challenge in writing is always to find the universal in the local, the parochial. And to do that, one needs distance.
  4. I read hungrily and delightedly, and have realised since that you can’t write unless you read.
  5. By the end, you should be inside your character, actually operating from within somebody else, and knowing him pretty well, as that person knows himself or herself. You’re sort of a predator, an invader of people.
  6. My fiction may, now and again, illuminate aspects of the human condition, but I do not consciously set out to do so: I am a storyteller.
  7. People like me write because otherwise we are pretty inarticulate. Our articulation is our writing.
  8. The capacity you’re thinking of is imagination; without it there can be no understanding, indeed no fiction.
  9. I don’t think you can write fiction unless you know something about happiness, melancholy—almost everything that human nature touches. I doubt that an overwhelmingly jolly, optimistic person has ever been an artist of any short.
  10. Writers of fiction are collectors of useless information. They are the opposite of good, solid, wise citizens who collect good information and put it to good use. Fiction writers remember tiny little details, some of them almost malicious, but very telling.

William Trevor is an Irish novelist, playwright, and short story writer. He has been nominated for the Booker Prize five times, he has won the Whitbread Prize three times and the Hawthornden Prize for Literature once. He is the author of The Story of Lucy Gault.

Source for Image of author

by Amanda Patterson

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Posted on: 24th May 2014

0 thoughts on “Literary Birthday – 24 May – William Trevor”

  1. The photo made me create some writing exercise for my classes (I am a write educator in Sweden); thank’s a lot for the creative input!

    I will use some of his statements later on. 🙂

    Kindly May-Louise in Sweden