Fun Facts Friday: Rodney William Whitaker

Rodney William Whitaker (12 June, 1931 – 14 December, 2005) was an author, educator, and film scholar. Mr. Whitaker wrote under several nom de plumes, but the most famous one was Trevanian.

Books by Trevanian*Books by Trevanian*

  1. The author was born in Granville, NY. His family was poor and struggled a lot.
  2. Mr. Whitake graduated from the University of Washington with a BS, and a MA in drama. He earned his PhD in communications and film from Northwestern University.
  3. During the Korean War, Mr. Whitaker served in the US Navy.
  4. He was awarded the Fulbright Scholarship to go study in England.
  5. He took his pen name, Trevanian, because he enjoyed and appreciated the works of British historian G.M. Trevelyan. He also wrote under the names of Nicholas Seare, Beñat Le Cagot and Edoard Moran.
  6. During his professional career as an educator, Mr. Whitaker taught at Dana College in Blair, Nebraska, and afterwards was the chairman of the Department of Radio, TV and Film at the University of Texas at Austin.
  7. Mr. Whitaker’s first novel, The Eiger Sanction, was published when he was working at the University of Texas. The novel was adapted to be a motion picture directed Clint Eastwood, who also starred in it. The story tells of an art professor who doubles as a professional assassin and is forced to come out of retirement.
  8. The author’s most critically acclaimed novel is Shibumi, published in 1979; story revolves around assassin Nicholaï Hel. A security guard in the movie John Wick reads Shibumi, and Wick’s killing of three men with a pencil is part of the Hel’s “Naked/Kill” discipline that trains in the use of ordinary items to be used as weapons.

  9. Mr. Whitaker kept his identity as a secret for decades, even refusing to help publishers in their publicity efforts. It was even suggested that famous author Robert Ludlum was behind the name. In 1998 a reporter from the Austin American-Statesman published his true identity.
  10. Mr. Whitaker left the United States for England, where he lived for the rest of his life, citing the decking quality of life in the United States due to material obsession.

Books by Trevanian*

Zohar – Man of la Book
*Ama­zon links point to an affil­i­ate account

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