Alexander Trocchi

Biography of Alexander Trocchi

Trocchi entry in the Matriculation Album
Trocchi entry in the Matriculation Album

Alexander Whitelaw Robertson Trocchi, Scottish author, publisher, and activist, attended the University of Glasgow from 1942-1943 and from 1946-1950, serving in the Royal Navy in between. He was awarded the Kemsley Travelling Scholarship in 1950 and left for Paris without graduating.

Trocchi was born in Glasgow in 30th July 1925 and attended Hillhead High School, before being evacuated to Cally House School, a residential school for evacuees, during the Second World War.

In May 1942 he applied to the University to do a Law degree with the stated intention of becoming a Barrister. Alexander was 17 when he first attended the University of Glasgow and entered the Arts faculty to study Political Economy, Logic, and History. He left the University shortly afterwards, however, when he signed up to the Royal Navy in 1943: two days after his 18th birthday. He transferred to the Fleet Air Arm however failed the pilot course and returned to the Navy where he served on Murmansk convoys.

Trocchi was awarded the 1939-1945 Star for his services in the Second World War and was demobilised in November 1946. He then returned to his studies, matriculating again in 1946 and this time he studied English, Logic, and Moral Philosophy. After four years of further study, Trocchi was awarded Second Class Honours in Philosophy and English Literature in 1950 despite reportedly falling asleep in his philosophy final. Without graduating, he left for Paris as the University of Glasgow’s Kemsley Travelling Scholar.

Trocchi began writing poetry and prose in the late 1940s, and by the early 1950s was an established member of the artistic avant-garde, establishing himself as one of the main Scottish writers of the twentieth century. In Paris Trocchi edited the literary magazine Merlin, which published the likes of Samuel Beckett and Henry Miller.

In the late 1950s Trocchi left Paris for the US and settled in New York where he continued a controversial lifestyle and was consequently briefly imprisoned. It was at this time that Trocchi wrote Cain’s Book, telling of his time living and working on the Hudson River.

Later Trocchi returned to Britain and opened a small bookstore in Kensington, London. He died of pneumonia on 15th April 1984.

There are documents relating to Alexander Trocchi in The University of Glasgow Special Collections' papers of Edwin Morgan.


Alexander Trocchi
Born 30 July 1925.
Died 15 April 1984.
University Link: Student
GU Degree:
Occupation categories: poets; writers
Record last updated: 10th Jan 2014

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  • Student

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