(born 1934)

Aileen Paterson

'Mrs McKitty was dying to tell everyone in Edinburgh how she'd defeated bloodthirsty pirates with one blow from her mighty paw.'
('Maisie and the Pirates')

Maisie, the best-kent kitty in Scotland, has featured in over 20 books and has made the leap from page to screen for a television series, with the great Scottish comedian Stanley Baxter doing all the voices. Maisie is the brainkitten of Aileen Paterson, who was born in Burntisland and brought up in Kirkcaldy. She came to Edinburgh to study art and stayed on to work in the city as a teacher, studio potter and craft worker. The title for the first Maisie book, 'Maisie Comes to Morningside', was inspired by the Chester Himes detective story, 'Cotton Comes to Harlem'. Aileen Paterson draws strongly on her childhood experience for the Maisie books – the games, the high jinks and, not least, her Kirkcaldy granny's guid Scots tongue. She delights in Scots words such as 'perjinkt', 'guddle' and 'dreich', and gently explores their comic possibilities. Her distinctive illustrations are full of fun, and all the places, buildings and shops shown in the Maisie books are real. As a Daily Mews reviewer might put it, 'These books are the cat's pyjamas'.

Aileen Paterson

Aileen Paterson, in her house in Edinburgh, 1999.

© Gordon Wright. For permission to use this image or to order a print or digital copy, email Gordon Wright.