Trevor, Elleston 1920-1995

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TREVOR, Elleston 1920-1995

(Mansell Black, Trevor Burgess, T. Dudley-Smith, Roger Fitzalan, Adam Hall, Howard North, Simon Rattray, Warwick Scott, Caesar Smith, Lesley Stone)

PERSONAL: Name originally Trevor Dudley-Smith; born February 17, 1920, in Bromley, Kent, England; died of cancer, July 21, 1995, in Cave Creek, AZ; son of Walter and Florence (Elleston) Smith; married Jonquil Burgess, 1947 (died, 1986); married Chaille Anne Groom, 1987; children: (first marriage) Peregrine Scott (son), a daughter. Education: Attended Yardley Court Preparatory School, 1928–32, and Sevenoaks Public School, 1932–38.

CAREER: Apprentice racing-driver for two years prior to World War II. Writer, 1946–95. Military service: Royal Air Force, 1940–46.

AWARDS, HONORS: Edgar Award, Mystery Writers of America, for The Quiller Memorandum, 1965; Grand Prix Litterature Policiere, 1965.


The Immortal Error, Swan (London, England), 1946.

Chorus of Echoes, Boardman (London, England), 1950.

Redfern's Miracle, Boardman (London, England), 1951.

Tiger Street, Boardman (London, England), 1951.

A Blaze of Roses, Harper (New York, NY), 1952, published as The Fire-Raiser, New English Library (London, England), 1970.

The Passion and the Pity, Heinemann (London, England), 1953.

The Big Pick-Up, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1955.

Squadron Airborne (Book Society recommendation), Macmillan (London, England), 1955, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1956.

The Killing-Ground, Macmillan (London, England), 1956, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1957.

Gale Force (Book Society recommendation), Macmillan (London, England), 1956, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1957.

The Pillars of Midnight, Heinemann (London, England), 1957, Morrow (New York, NY), 1959.

Dream of Death, Brown and Watson (London, England), 1958.

The V.I.P., Macmillan (London, England), 1959, Morrow (New York, NY), 1960.

Silhouette, Swan (London, England), 1959.

The Mind of Max Doume, Swan (London, England), 1960.

The Billboard Madonna, Macmillan (London, England), 1960, Morrow (New York, NY), 1961.

The Burning Shore, Macmillan (London, England), 1961, Harper (New York, NY), 1962.

The Flight of the Phoenix, Harper (New York, NY), 1964.

The Second Chance, Consul (London, England), 1965.

Weave a Rope of Sand, Consul, 1965.

The Shoot, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1966.

The Freebooters, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1967.

A Place for the Wicked, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1968.

Bury Him among Kings, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1975.

Night Stop, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1975, published as The Paragon, New English Library (London, England), 1975.

The Theta Syndrome, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1977.

Blue Jay Summer, Dell (New York, NY), 1977.

Seven Witnesses, Remploy (London, England), 1977.

The Damocles Sword, Collins (London, England), 1981, Playboy Press (New York, NY), 1982.

The Penthouse, New American Library (New York, NY), 1983.

Death Watch, Beaufort (New York, NY), 1984.

The Flycatcher, Forge (New York, NY), 1994.

The Sister, Forge (New York, NY), 1994.


Wumpus, Swan (London, England), 1945.

Deep Wood, Swan (London, England), 1945, Longman (New York, NY), 1947.

Heather Hill, Swan (London, England), 1946, Longman (New York, NY), 1948.

More about Wumpus, Swan (London, England), 1947.

The Island of the Pines, Swan (London, England), 1948.

The Secret Travellers, Swan (London, England), 1948.

Where's Wumpus?, Swan (London, England), 1948.

Badger's Beech, Falcon (London, England), 1948.

The Wizard of the Wood, Falcon (London, England), 1948.

Badger's Moon, Falcon (London, England), 1949.

Ant's Castle, Falcon (London, England), 1949.

Mole's Castle, Falcon (London, England), 1951.

Sweethallow Valley, Falcon (London, England), 1951.

Challenge of the Firebrand, Jenkins (London, England), 1951.

Secret Arena, Jenkins (London, England), 1951.

Forbidden Kingdom, Lutterworth Press (London, England), 1955.

Badger's Wood, Macmillan (London, England), 1958.

The Crystal City, Swan (London, England), 1959.

Green Glades, Swan (London, England), 1959.

Squirrel's Island, Swan (London, England), 1963.


The Last of the Daylight, produced in Bromley, Kent, England, 1959.

Murder by All Means, first produced in Madrid, Spain, 1960, produced in England, 1961.

A Pinch of Purple, produced in Bradford, England, 1971.

A Touch of Purple (produced in Leatherhead, Surrey, and London, 1972), Samuel French (London, England), 1973.

Just before Dawn, produced in London, 1972.

Also author of screenplay Woman of Straw; author of play The Search, produced in Bromley, England.


Animal Life Stories: Rippleswim the Otter, Scamper-Foot Pine Marten, Shadow the Fox, three volumes, Swan (London, England), 1943–45.

Elleston Trevor Miscellany, Swan (London, England), 1944.

Contributor of short stories to periodicals, including Science Fantasy and Espionage.


Dead on Course, Hodder & Stoughton (London, England), 1951.

Sinister Cargo, Hodder & Stoughton (London, England), 1952.

Shadow of Evil, Hodder & Stoughton (London, England), 1953.

Steps in the Dark, Hodder & Stoughton (London, England), 1954.


A Spy at Monk's Court, Hutchinson (London, England), 1949.

Mystery of the Missing Book, Hutchinson (London, England), 1951.

The Racing Wraith, Hutchinson (London, England), 1953.


Over the Wall, Swan (London, England), 1943.

Into the Happy Glade (children's book), Swan (London, England), 1943.

By a Silver Stream (children's book), Swan (London, England), 1944.

Double Who Double Crossed, Swan (London, England), 1944.

Escape to Fear, Swan (London, England), 1948.

Now Try the Morgue, Swan (London, England), 1948.


A Blaze of Arms, Peter Davies (London, England), 1967.


The Volcanoes of San Domingo, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1964.

The Quiller Memorandum, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1965, published as The Berlin Memorandum, Collins (London, England), 1965.

The Ninth Directive, Macmillan (London, England), 1966, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1967.

The Striker Portfolio, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1969.

The Warsaw Document, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1970.

The Tango Briefing, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1973.

The Mandarin Cypher, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1975.

The Kobra Manifesto, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1976.

The Sinkiang Executive, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1978.

The Scorpion Signal, Collins (London, England), 1979, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1980.

The Sibling, Playboy Press (New York, NY), 1979.

Pekin Target, Collins (London, England), 1981, published as The Peking Target, Playboy Press, 1982.

Northlight, Berkley (New York, NY), 1985.

Quiller, Jove (New York, NY), 1985.

Quiller's Run, Jove, 1988.

Quiller K. G. B., Charter (New York, NY), 1989.

Quiller Barracuda, Morrow (New York, NY), 1990.

Quiller Bamboo, Morrow (New York, NY), 1991.

Quiller Solitaire, Morrow (New York, NY), 1993.

Quiller Meridian, Morrow (New York, NY), 1993.

Quiller Salamander, Otto Penzler Books (New York, NY), 1994.

Quiller Balalaika, Carroll & Graff (New York, NY), 2003.


Expressway, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1973.


Knight Sinister, Boardman (London, England), 1951, Pyramid (New York, NY), 1971.

Queen in Danger, Boardman (London, England), 1952, Pyramid (New York, NY), 1971.

Bishop in Check, Boardman (London, England), 1953, Pyramid (New York, NY), 1971.

Dead Silence, Boardman (London, England), 1954, published as Pawn in Jeopardy, Pyramid (New York, NY), 1971.

Dead Circuit, Boardman (London, England), 1955, published as Rook's Gambit, Pyramid (New York, NY), 1972.

Dead Sequence, Boardman (London, England), 1957.


Image in the Dust, Davies, 1951, published as Cockpit, Lion (New York, NY), 1953.

The Domesday Story, Davies, 1952, published as Doomsday, Lion (New York, NY), 1953.

Naked Canvas, Davies, 1954, Popular Library (New York, NY), 1955.


Heatwave, Wingate, 1957, Ballantine (New York, NY), 1958.


Siren Song, W. H. Allen (London, England), 1985.

Riveria Story, W. H. Allen (London, England), 1987.

ADAPTATIONS: The Big Pick-Up was adapted as the film Dunkirk, produced by Ealing Studios and given a royal premiere. Some of Trevor's 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. Flight of the Phoenix was adapted again as a film in 2004, this time for 20th Century Fox by Lukas Heller, Scott Frank, and Edward Burns.

SIDELIGHTS: Elleston Trevor wrote the popular adventures of British secret agent Quiller under the pseudonym Adam Hall. Quiller—never given a first name—worked for a branch of the British government so secret it was not officially acknowledged to exist. His assignments took him throughout the world foiling Nazi plots, Soviet highjinx, drug smugglers, and Royal kidnappers in the far-flung corners of the globe. "Living only for the challenge of the mission, Quiller has no emotional or intellectual life independent of his work," explained R. Gordon Kelly in the St. James Guide to Crime & Mystery Writers. He is also, Kelly noted, "irascible, humorless, [and] suspicious of everyone." Speaking to Georgi Tolstiakov in Armchair Detective, Trevor explained: "Quiller is afraid of being a coward, afraid of not facing a challenge and so he faces it, he makes these challenges. He wants to improve himself…. Quiller pushes himself all the time."

The character of Quiller remained the same throughout the series. According to a contributor to the New York Times Book Review, Quiller "is an old pro and something of a superman—a karate expert, a phenomenal linguist, an agent who knows all the tricks." Hall's stories, explained another critic for the New York Times Book Review, were like "an elaborate chess game: check, sacrifice, discovered check, gambit material, predetermined opening moves." Speaking of The Sinkiang Executive, Robin Winks concluded in the New Republic that it was "stunningly well done, tense, elliptical, without a misplaced word."

Trevor's nineteenth and last book about the British agent Quiller is Quiller Balalaika, which was published in England in 1996 shortly after Trevor's death but was not published in the United States until 2003. The story takes place in Russia. Quiller's mission is to stop Mafiya kingpin Vasyl Sakkas, who is really a British-born man named Basil Seckes, from destroying the fledgling Russian capitalistic economy. Before Quiller can go after Sakkas, however, he must organize a daring escape of a Russian Gulag prisoner whose help Quiller needs, as well as that of a Russian ballerina. In addition to the novel, the American edition includes codas by Trevor's children in which they discuss their father's fight with cancer and his commitment to his fans epitomized by his writing one more novel even though he was seriously ill. "The book is a typically atmospheric, exciting Quiller adventure," wrote Wes Lukowsky in Booklist. A Publishers Weekly contributor noted that "authors of some of today's bloated thrillers could learn a lot from this book's opening pages." The reviewer went on to comment that "wonderful touches abound."

Trevor first began writing while serving in the British Air Force during World War II, producing a novel a fortnight under a dozen pseudonyms. He told Tolstiakov: "During the War I had a publisher who happened to have a nice load of paper around. There was a paper shortage, but he happened to have a lot in his warehouse; so he was able to publish new writers."

Trevor once told CA: "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."



Haining, Peter, Classic Era of Crime Fiction, Chicago Review Press (Chicago, IL), 2002.

St. James Guide to Crime & Mystery Writers, 4th edition, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1996.


Armchair Detective, winter, 1996, George Tolstiakov, "The Man Who Was Quiller," pp. 80-84.

Booklist, November 15, 2003, Wes Lukowsky, review of Quiller Balalaika, p. 584.

Kirkus Reviews, October 15, 2003, review of Quiller Balalaika, p. 1253.

Library Journal, April 1, 2004, Michael Rogers, review of Quiller Balalaika, p. 129.

New Republic, April 7, 1979, Robin Winks, review of The Sinkiang Executive, p. 180.

New York Times Book Review, February 9, 1964, p. 26; March 28, 1965, review of The Quiller Memorandum, p. 52; January 22, 1967, p. 36; March 23, 1969, p. 41; October 17, 1971, p. 30; October 26, 1975, p. 54; September 19, 1976, p. 47; June 25, 1978, p. 34.

Publishers Weekly, November 10, 2003, review of Quiller Balalaika, p.



Chicago Tribune, July 25, 1995, sec. 1, p. 10.

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Trevor, Elleston 1920-1995

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