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Painter, printmaker, teacher and writer, Trevelyan was born in Dorking, Surrey, the son of the poet and scholar R.C. Trevelyan. He was educated at Beadles and at Cambridge University, where he was a member of the Experiments group. He studied with S.W. Hayter at Atelier 17 in Paris in the early 1930s. His early work was experimental, his paintings incorporating everyday objects.
At university he had written "to dream is to create' and so it was logical that he became one of the English Surrealist group in 1936. During service in WW2 , he declared his religion to be Surrealism. His pictures, in a variety of styles, retained a dreamlike, often childlike, fantastic quality. He was married to the potter Ursula Darwin and then from 1951, the painter Mary Feddon. He was a tutor at Chelsea School of Art from 1950-60 and engraving tutor at the Royal College of Art 1955-63. Trevelyan was made Hon. Senior RA in 1986. He published his autobiography 'Indigo Days' in 1957.
In the late 1990s there were two Trevelyan retrospectives, one touring from the Royal College of Art and one at the Bohun Gallery, Henley-on-Thames. The Tate Gallery, amongst others, holds his work.