|Born||James Edmund Neil Paterson|
31 December 1915
|Died||19 April 1995 (aged 79)|
|Pen name||John Kovack|
|Occupation||Novelist, short story writer, screenwriter, journalist, footballer|
|Alma mater||University of Edinburgh|
|Notable works||Room at the Top (screenplay for 1959 film version)|
|Notable awards||Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay |
1959 Room at the Top
James Edmund Neil Paterson (31 December 1915 – 19 April 1995) was a Scottish writer of novels, short stories and screenplays. He won the 1959 Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for Room at the Top. Before his success as a writer, he worked in journalism and had a brief career as an amateur footballer, playing for Buckie Thistle, Leith Athletic and Dundee United in the Scottish Football League.
Born in Greenock, Renfrewshire (now part of Inverclyde), Paterson was the older of two children of James D Paterson (1880-1947) and Nicholas K Kerr (1892-1956). He graduated from the University of Edinburgh and had a brief career in senior football, playing as an inside left. He played for Edinburgh University, for Buckie Thistle in the Highland League and for Scottish League teams Leith Athletic and Dundee United, becoming captain of the latter in the 1936–37 season. Despite his success in football – he scored 9 goals from 26 league appearances for Dundee United, including a hat-trick – he remained an amateur player, spurning the opportunity to go professional. As an amateur he was automatically released at the end of the season, although he played one further game for the club in an emergency.
After his football career finished he became a writer, initially as a sports journalist for D.C. Thomson and after the Second World War as an author, penning a number of well received novels and short stories. Paterson won the Atlantic Award for Literature in 1946.
He adapted his own short story The Kidnappers for a cinema version released in 1953.[nb 1] Subsequently, he wrote a number of other screenplays, including the first screen version of John Braine's novel Room at the Top (1959) which later won the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay. Paterson served as a governor for the British Film Institute, National Film School and the Arts Council of Great Britain and as an executive for Grampian Television.
He died in 1995 at Crieff, Tayside (now part of Perth and Kinross).