William Trevor, KBE grew up in various provincial towns and attended a number of schools, graduating from Trinity College, in Dublin, with a degree in history. He first exercised his artistry as a sculptor, working as a teacher in Northern Ireland and then emigrated to England in search of work when the school went bankrupt. He could have returned to Ireland once he became a successful writer, he said, "but by then I had become a wanderer, and one way and another, I just stayed in England ... I hated leaving Ireland. I was very bitter at the time. But, had it not happened, I think I might never have written at all."
In 1958 Trevor published his first novel, A Standard of Behaviour, to little critical success. Two years later, he abandoned sculpting completely, feeling his work had become too abstract, and found a job writing copy for a London advertising agency. 'This was absurd,' he said. 'They would give me four lines or so to write and four or five days to write it in. It was so boring. But they had given me this typewriter to work on, so I just started writing stories. I sometimes think all the people who were missing in my sculpture gushed out into the stories.' He published several short stories, then his second and third novels, which both won the Hawthornden Prize (established in 1919 by Alice Warrender and named after William Drummond of Hawthornden, the Hawthornden Prize is one of the UK's oldest literary awards). A number of other prizes followed, and Trevor began working full-time as a writer in 1965.
Since then, Trevor has published nearly 40 novels, short story collections, plays, and collections of nonfiction. He has won three Whitbread Awards, a PEN/Macmillan Silver Pen Award, and was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. In 1977 Trevor was appointed an honorary (he holds Irish, not British, citizenship) Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE) for his services to literature and in 2002 he was elevated to honorary Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (KBE). Since he began writing, William Trevor regularly spends half the year in Italy or Switzerland, often visiting Ireland in the other half. His home is in Devon, in South West England, on an old mill surrounded by 40 acres of land.