Beagle Wins Jack Trevor Story Memorial Prize

Peter S. Beagle. Photo by Rina Weisman.

Michael Moorcock, organizer of The Jack Trevor Story Memorial Prize/Prix du Goncourt, announced Peter S. Beagle as the recipient of the award.

The Committee For The Jack Trevor Story Memorial Prize/Prix Du Goncourt For 2020 — Michael Moorcock (UK), Guy Lawley (UK), Linda Steele (UK/US), Rick Klaw (US), Brandy Whitten (US), Jean-Luc Fromental (France), Lili Sztajn (France) —

Are unanimously agreed that Peter S Beagle has won the Story/Goncourt as he is most likely to fulfill the terms of the prize which consists of a cup and a cheque for $500. The money is linked to profits from NEW WORLDS and must be spent in a ‘a week to a fortnight’ and refers to Mr Story’s reply to a bankruptcy judge who asked where his money went. “You know how it is, judge. Two hundred or two thousand. It always lasts a week to a fortnight.’  — The Committee

Beagle is the author of The Last UnicornSummerlong, and many other fine works of fantastica.  He is currently published by Tachyon Books.

The Committee traditionally meets at Le Goncourt, Boulevard Parmentier, Paris, France but met virtually this time. 

Previous winners have included Fred Normandale, Howard Waldrop. Steve Aylett and Nicholas Lezard and is named for the humorous novelist, scriptwriter and Guardian columnist Jack Trevor Story (1917-1991), who died having typed THE END to his most recent book.

Rick Klaw explained the origins of the award in a 2015 blog post.

Maintained and awarded by Moorcock, The Jack Trevor was originally presented to the writer of the story in the Time Out series of London stories that he best liked. In more recent times, a special committee, organized by Moorcock, determines the winner, typically for excellence in humorous writing. The five hundred guinea prize is given with the following conditions: The entire award must be spent “in a week to a fortnight” and the recipient must have nothing to show for it. Most winners use the money for a big night or a foreign vacation. One winner, a trawlerman from Hull who spent the money with the expertise of a drunken sailor before he got home, had to spend the money all over again just to prove to his shipmates that he’d won it.

The unique terms of the award are based on Jack Trevor Story‘s famous words when asked at his second bankruptcy what happened to money from his films The Trouble with Harry and Live Now, Pay Later. The judge wondered how he managed to go through so much without having a thing to show for it.

“You know how it is, your honour ?? two hundred or two thousand ?? it always lasts a week to a fortnight. You can spend a couple of hundred easy just going around the supermarket.”

[Based on a press release.]

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7 thoughts on “Beagle Wins Jack Trevor Story Memorial Prize

  1. Sweet. I only know the troubles Beagle is having third hand, but I am thrilled something like this has entered his life.

    (If you haven’t seen the movie The Trouble with Harry, I recommend it as highly as I can recommend anything.)

    As for Story, if you can’t be rich, be rich in spirit.

  2. Good for him, and also, prize for what? I assume “most likely to fulfill the terms” has an implicit “writer” or “novelist” or “person writing in either English or French” but the only thing clear is that the award is for a person rather than a single work.

  3. I’m hoping that paying his bills counts as “[having] nothing to show for it”. The poor man has real need of cash right now, from what I understand. And it’s really not possible to do a trip or vacation right now, or even extravagant restaurant or bar bills would be difficult to manage….

  4. @Cassy B: my reaction also; unless he’s doing a lot better since the last time I saw him (~5 years ago?) going on a spree would not be indicated even if COVID-19 weren’t around. Extravagant bills wouldn’t be that hard to manage — unless California’s re-lockdown is much harder than I’ve heard, he could treat a bunch of friends to home deliveries from good restaurants — but it would be a shame to not have the people there to enjoy it. I suppose they could have simultaneous deliveries and eat while Zooming (surely there are some Beagle fans local enough and geek enough to set this up), but it’s not the same.

    The thing that puzzles me is that this award appears to be for humor, and I’ve never thought of Beagle as a particularly humorous author. I can’t think of anything more recent than The Last Unicorn that is actually has fun with tropes.

  5. Beagle’s short story in The Unicorn Anthology, “My Son Heydari and the Karkadann” was in a humorous vein; that was 2017. I think a lot of humor underlies even his more serious work.

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