Janet Paisley is an award winning poet, author, playwright, non-fiction and scriptwriter, writing in Scots and English. Born 1948 Ilford, Essex of Scottish parents, she grew up in Avonbridge, a small village in Central Scotland. Marriage, a teaching career, the birth of seven sons, the death of one, and divorce followed. She now lives in another small village just south of Falkirk.
A prolific and popular writer, first published in 1979, she features at national and international festivals and is published, performed, broadcast and taught on the curriculum from primary to university at home and abroad. Her work has been translated into German, Russian, Lithuanian, Slovak, Spanish, Hungarian, Ukranian and Italian and is widely anthologised.
Janet's awards include BAFTA and RTS nominations for Long Haul, a 2000 Creative Scotland Award to write Not for Glory; 1999 Canongate Prize; 1996 Peggy Ramsay Memorial award for Refuge; National, Scottish National, Swanage Arts and MacDiarmid Trophy poetry prizes; Sutton, Scotwrite and BBC prose prizes. In 1996 Alien Crop was shortlisted as Scottish Book of the Year and Sooans Nicht was Critics Play of the Year. In 2003 Not for Glory was in the World Book Day Top Ten Scottish Books and on the nation's Favourite Books of all time list of 2005.
A writer who thrives on the discipline of different forms, she began her career with the short story. Five collections of poetry followed, interspersed with short fiction; theatre, radio and TV drama; and film. Other publications include two books of short stories, a novella, two historical novels and occasional journalism. A regular visitor to schools, skilled in humorous and dramatic performances of her own work, Janet wrote for and appeared in several Mayfest productions with Bread & Circuses, a group of writers dedicated to lively and entertaining theatrical presentations of the written word.
An inadvertent literary ambassador, she spoke at Russian academic symposiums and the Tolstoy commemoration, initiated a Scottish literature collection in Voronezh university, took part in Barcelona's theatrical Cartographies of Desire and in reading tours of Paris, Moscow, Slovakia, Lithuania and Ukraine. She also set up the first Scottish PEN women writers' committee.
While raising her six sons as a single parent, financial support from the Scottish Arts Council literature and drama departments was invaluable. Over a fifteen year period from 1990, she held two SAC writing fellowships and the Glasgow South writing residency, and was awarded writers and playwrights bursaries in 1997, 1999, 2001, 2005 and 2010. She also taught courses in creative writing for Glasgow University's Department of Adult & Continuing Education.
In July 2007, when her youngest son graduated and a second grandson was born, she published her first novel, White Rose Rebel. The Jacobite connection, begun more than two decades earlier with radio stories and a stage play, continued with writing the character stations for Culloden Battlefield Visitor Centre's new exhibition. A second historical novel, Warrior Daughter, appeared June 2009. The Lasses, O, a theatre production based on earlier radio drama relating the life of Robert Burns, toured the same year while the full play became a Fringe sell-out show in 2010. Janet is currently working on a third novel and two new collections of poetry, one for children.
“Janet Paisley's poems have an intensity that makes them shine with truth.. she enters Sylvia Plath territory and emerges looking more honest and passionate than Plath. She can be winningly self-deprecating and deadly serious at the same time…” Books in Scotland.
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