Fife-born writer of Maisie books, Aileen Paterson, has died

Aileen Paterson with Maisie the cat.Aileen Paterson with Maisie the cat.
Aileen Paterson with Maisie the cat.
One of Scotland's most beloved children's writers, Aileen Paterson, has died at the age of 83.

The Burntisland-born author was best known for her series about the fictional kitten Maisie Mackenzie.

For more than 30 years, Aileen’s stories about Maisie’s exploits in the city of Edinburgh enchanted thousands of fans and she was made an MBE in 2015 for services to children’s literature.

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She was born in Burntisland on November 30 1934, moving to Kirkcaldy at the age of 12.

A fan of drawing and pottery, she moved to Edinburgh to study at the College of Art in 1951 and would go on to work as an art teacher for 18 years.

However, she only initially started writing to deal with the grief of losing her 11-year-old son Max, who died of leukaemia in 1980.

Speaking to the Fife Free Press in 2015, shortly after receiving the MBE from Prince William at Buckingham Palace, Aileen recalled how, while teaching at Muirhouse Primary School in Edinburgh, she was encouraged to write by a fellow teacher.

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“He was the chap that I shared lifts with, he said one day I want to become a publisher and he used to nag me in the staff room,” she said.

“I told him to wait until the summer holidays because I still had three children at primary school.

“I liked cats so I thought, why not write about a cat and off I went. That’s how it all got started... I didn’t tell William all that though.”

Aileen gave up teaching to concentrate on the Maisie series and never looked back.

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“She is really loved Maisie, it’s been a lovely job,” she said. “Even adults used to come to the book festival for Maisie.

“I did Higher Art at Kirkcaldy High which was lovely because my favourite thing is drawing.”

Aileen’s first book, Maisie Comes to Morningside, was released in 1984.

Dozens of stories featuring the feline adventurer followed, which included adventures in London, New York and Japan, though most were set in Edinburgh.

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Although Aileen stopped writing in 2008, she continued to give talks about her work for many years.

She was particularly fond of telling stories to primary school pupils with her Maisie puppet.

In addition to her stories about Maisie, Aileen also illustrated a children’s guide to Edinburgh and contributed to various anthologies.

But she will be best remembered for the kitten she first brought to life and the colourful adventures she went on.

Aileen passed away on March 23 at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary and is survived by her five daughters and a son.