James Stewart Parker was born in Belfast in 1941. While still in his teens, he contracted bone cancer and had a leg amputated. He was part of a group of young writers which included Seamus Heaney and Bernard MacLaverty in Queen’s University, Belfast.
His stage plays include Spokesong (Dublin Theatre Festival, John Player Theatre, 1975); The Actress and the Bishop (King’s Head Theatre, 1976); Catchpenny Twist (Dublin, The Peacock, 25 August, 1977); Kingdom Come (King’s Head Theatre, 1978); Nightshade (Dublin, The Abbey Theatre, Peacock Stage, 1980); Pratt’s Fall (Glasgow, Tron Teatre, 1983); Northern Star (commissioned by Belfast Lyric 1984); Heavenly Bodies (Birmingham, Birmingham Rep, 1986); and Pentecost (Dublin Theatre Festival, John Player Theatre, 1987), which won the Harvey’s Irish Theatre Award.
His radio plays include The Iceberg (1975); and The Kamikaze Ground Staff Reunion Dinner (1980).
His TV plays include I’m A Dreamer, Montreal (1979); Iris in the Traffic, Ruby in the Rain (1981); Joyce in June (1981); Radio Pictures (1985); Blue Money (1985); and Lost Belongings (1987).
His awards include The Evening Standard Drama Award, and Thames Television Grant, for Spokesong, 1976; Evening Standard Award, 1977 and Ewart Biggs award, 1979, for Catchpenny Twist; and Harvey’s Best Play of the Year Award, 1987, for Pentecost.
His plays are published as Spokesong (London, Samuel French, 1979); Nightshade (Dublin, Co-Op Books 1980); Catchpenny Twist (Loughcrew, Co Meath, Gallery Press 1980); and Three Plays for Ireland: Northern Star, Heavenly Bodies, Pentecost (London, Oberon Books, 1989). His poems are collected as Paddy Dies (Kilcar, Co Donegal, Summer Palace Press, 2004).
His journalism is collected as High Pop: The Irish Times Columns 1970-76 (Belfast, Lagan Press, 2008).
He died from cancer in 1998 and is commemorated by the Stewart Parker Trust Awards, which awards prizes to Irish writers for the best new stage plays.
Stewart Parker at Culture Northern Ireland