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.