Hal Trovillion (1879-1967)
Hal Trovillion, after leaving the University of Indiana, came to Herrin, Southern Illinois (also known as Little Egypt), around 1904 and became owner of the two local newspapers, The Herrin Daily Journal and the Egyption Republican (previously called The Herrin News). In 1908, inspired by the fine work of Thomas Bird Mosher, a great American publisher and printer, whose books are characterised by fine paper, small size, beautiful design, modest price (Trovillion said himself that "Dear Old Tom" had been an early influence on him), he started publishing under the name 'At the Sign of the Silver Horse', for he owned a private press. Most of the books he and his wife Violet published were reprints of out-of-the-way things such as for instance garden books, the Love Letters of Henry VIII, or Oscar Wilde'sThe Selfish Giant.
Thus, they were in contact with other American publishers and in correspondence with many writers, Daphne du Maurier and G.M. Trevelyan among others. They travelled extensively in Europe and visited friends. Hal and Violet probably came into contact with Powys through Lloyd Emerson Siberell, and they came to see John Cowper at Corwen in 1938, as a photo testifies. Llewelyn Powys's A Baker's Dozen was published in a limited edition by them in 1939, but Llewelyn did not live to see the book.
An exchange of letters along the years took place between John and the Trovillions, some of which have been published. (The originals of Powys's letters to Hal and Violet are in the Morris Library, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale.) Here is a sample:
It was indeed a lucky day for all of us grateful Fans of the wonderful Private Press of the Sign of the Silver Horse when Fourty years ago our inspired friends V & H Trovillion decided to drive their car up the slope of Parnassus. Since then among such Exceptional Marvels of Literature as King Harry's Love-Letters to Queen Elizabeth's Mother! and the Happy Prince & Selfish Giant by Oscar Wilde my own fortunate family has been rendered specially happy & proud by the appearance in this stately and arresting 'format' of our dead brother Llewelyn's 'Baker's Dozen' with an introduction by my personal friend & expertest & most erudite of bibiographers Mr Lloyd Emerson Siberell.
So it is with all gratitude that I lift my glass of pure Heliconian white wine and goat's milk to the long life of the Trovillion Press!
(June 28 1949, Powys to the Trovillions, ed. by Paul Roberts, Cecil Woolf,1990)