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Obituary: Janet Paisley – ‘prolific poet, novelist and playwright’

Janet Paisley Janet Paisley

A prolific writer, Janet Paisley was an accomplished poet, novelist and playwright who won the Peggy Ramsay award in 1996 for her play Refuge. Exploring the effect of male violence on four women, it revelled in the bold gallows humour and rich use of vernacular speech that characterised her best work and was seen at the Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, and on tour.

Born in Ilford, Essex and raised in Avonbridge, near Falkirk, she began writing after the collapse of an abusive marriage and published her first short story in 1979. Poetry collections, fiction and non-fiction works followed with Paisley acting in her own Saturday Nights and Sunday Mornings, co-written and performed with Ken Kelly, at the Edinburgh Fringe in 1990.

She wrote for and appeared in five productions with the writers’ group Bread and Circuses and Winding String – a family drama in which dark secrets are discovered – was seen at the Battersea Arts Centre in 1999.

The same year she adapted her prize-winning radio story Sooans Nicht with Graham McKenzie for the Castlemilk People’s Theatre at Edinburgh’s Theatre Workshop.

More recently, The Lasses, O – a portrait of Robert Burns filtered through the experiences of five women close to the poet – was staged at the Tower Mill Heart of Hawick in 2009.

She wrote educational radio dramas on a wide range of historical subjects and contributed to the television soaps River City and High Road. Her short film Long Haul was nominated for Scottish BAFTA and Royal Television Society awards in 2000.

Janet Violet Paisley was born on January 12, 1948, and died on November 9, aged 70

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