Jack Trevor Story

August 18, 2008

I try to express myself in this blog but usually fail miserably. There is an art in writing well. Often million-selling novels don’t contain great writing. Great writing is hidden in blink-and-you’ll-miss-them newspaper columns. I love Caitlin Moran’s articles in The Times. Howard Jacobson (in The Guardian?) has a flair for the english language that befits his literary/education background. Julie Birchill in her pop newspaper/Modern Review days. Jeffrey Barnard in The Spectator when he was merely unwell rather than his current situation of being deceased. People whose names I forget (or never actually got round to remembering) in Mojo music monthly. Even MacBiter in “Computer Shopper” magazine who managed to write entertainingly for years about absolutely nothing.

In my opinion one great overlooked writer is the late Jack Trevor Story. How many people have actually heard of Jack and how many of his books are still in print today? For a time he made a living writing TV scripts and pulp detective stories but is probably most remembered for his comic novels about dissolute characters evidently based upon himself. Much more of his writing appeared in blink-and-you’ll-miss-it places like the 1950s monthly pulp Sexton Blake Library or Punch or various newspaper columns.

My favourite novel by Jack is “I sit in Hanger Lane” about a guy forever dashing between wife and mistress until he can’t remember where he should or shouldn’t be at any one time. He only seems to be aware of his surroundings when he finds himself in his car stuck at the Hanger Lane traffic lights. I’m sure the whole book, as with everything Jack wrote was a watered down version of the even more amazing/eventful/mad things that actually happened to him in real life.

JTS was a larger than life character and perhaps his own worst enemy. According to various sources he sold film screenplays for a fraction of their value and wrote scripts for many TV shows and knew many influential people but never managed to capitalise on it. Allegedly throughout his life he was always short of money. And yet he had a succession of wives/girlfriends until late in life. Even towards the end when he became ill he wrote with such passion. The fact that Michael Moorcock (no slouch himself with hundreds of books to his name) thinks Jack Trevor Story is one of the greatest writers who ever lived says it all really.

Follow this link for more info about this fascinating writer. Here is an example of his writing from an issue of The Sexton Blake Library pocket book:-

 

“There is a sadness which grows from the seeds of remembered happiness;
there is a weariness which springs unrequested from the
remembered fountains of youth;
there is a nostalgia conjoured from faraway places and gone people and
moments which have long since ticked into the infinite fog.”

                                                 

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4 Responses to “Jack Trevor Story”

  1. Grum Says:

    I do so agree with you (see my latest entry on http://www.grumbooks.blogspot.com) Even JTS’s Sexton Blakes are better written than much of what passes for literature these days. It would be so good to see his work back in print.

  2. themagicrobot Says:

    Yes I’m in the middle of his biography “Romantic Egoist” and have just ordered via eBay a 1972 copy of “Letters to an Intimate Stranger” his collected newspaper columns. I’ve not read many Sexton Blakes but would like to read more, even the ones not written by JTS. I have a large volume called “The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes” which features many other obscure pulp detective stories from the first half of the C20th which I keep meaning to read.

  3. Lindsay Story Says:

    “Romantic Egoist” hurt Dad’s family terribly because we knew he had tried to stop it. Least said….

  4. themagicrobot Says:

    Hi Lindsay
    Probably “least said” about an unauthorised biography but there ought to be so much more said about your father’s literary heritage.

    The fact that he appears in my blog of assorted “popular culture” shows how much he was in tune with his times. And how many other writers in the 1970s had their own TV show?

    All I knew, as a teenager, reading his books was how the words just spilled out like a stream of consciousness. Thanks for visiting and appreciate that though we can only remember your father for his writing you can remember the man.


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