Alexander Whitelaw Robertson Trocchi lived from 30 July 1925 to 15 April 1984. He was a novelist who became a contributor to the "beat generation" in the USA. The wider picture in Scotland at the time is set out in our Historical Timeline.
Alexander Trocchi was born and educated in Glasgow. His father was Italian and his mother Scottish. During the Second World War he joined the Merchant Navy and sailed on the convoys to Murmansk. At the end of the war he became a student at the University of Glasgow. After graduating, he gained a scholarship that allowed him to travel, and he moved to Paris, where he lived through much of the early 1950s and edited the literary magazine Merlin.
From 1954, Trocchi had a series of novels published by Maurice Girodias' controversial Olympia Press. Many of Trocchi's books were banned in the UK and USA, and some even in France, because of their sexual content. At the end of the 1950s Trocchi left France for the United States, where he spent time in New Mexico before settling in New York, working on a boat on the Hudson River while continuing to write. He later spent time in Venice, California, the centre of the southern Californian Beat Generation. Trocchi's 1960 novel Cain's Book drew on his life in the United States, where he had become addicted to heroin. The book's themes of sex and drugs led to its being banned in the UK, while in the USA it was released to generally favourable reviews. Trocchi was later charged with supplying heroin in the USA and had to flee to Canada.
Trocchi made an appearance at the 1962 Edinburgh Writers' Festival, and then moved to Notting Hill in London, where he established a business as a book dealer and became known as "Scots Alec". He continued to write, but had very little published before his death in 1984. The following year the Edinburgh Review published a "Trocchi Number" to coincide with the publication of a biography, and as a result there was a resurgence of interest in Trocchi and his work. Many of his novels have been republished since, and in 2003 his early novel Young Adam was made into a film.