Ada F. Kay
Ada F Kay, also known as A.J. Stewart, (born 1929) is a British writer with a particularly complex personal history. She grew up in Lancashire but lived much of her adult life in Scotland.
In her earlier life she wrote a number of plays. One of them, The Man From Thermopylae (1959), received some critical acclaim. (It was set in ancient Greece and the title refers to the sole survivor of the famous battle). She also went through a failed marriage.
In the 1960s, she was planning to write a play about the life of King James IV of Scotland. In the course of her research, she planned to visit the site of the Battle of Flodden where the king was killed in 1513. The night before her visit, she experienced what she believed to be a traumatic flashback of being hacked to death by English spears during the battle, which led her to believe that she was a reincarnation of the king.
Around 1972 she published Falcon, an "autobiography" of the king under the name of "A.J. Stewart" (a combination of her married name and the king's). Although much of it reflected known historical facts about James IV, it also included some surprising new revelations about the events of the time, e.g. that James III of Scotland was a homosexual, and that James IV had built his warship the Michael to sail it up the River Thames and bombard the royal palaces in London.
This account received some attention in Scotland when it was published. Ada Kay appeared on BBC Scotland to discuss her claims: one historian who the BBC asked for his opinion said that the book repeated some popular misconceptions about the reign of James IV. Another historian has commented that "her 'autobiography' of the king is most safely read as a highly colourful and entertaining historical novel". The Scotsman's reviewer concluded that, if it had not been for the bizarre circumstances in which it was written, then it might have gained recognition as a minor addition to the genre pioneered by Robert Graves of works supposedly penned as a first-person account by an actual historical figure, but added that it was at its best where a woman's touch might be strongest. It has also been suggested that it may have been influenced by previously published accounts of the king's life, including Gentle Eagle by Christine Orr, R. L. Mackie's biography and Walter Scott's Marmion.
She later wrote an autobiography of her own 20th-century life, King's Memory (originally published as Died 1513 - Born 1929). It did not receive much attention, and The Scotsman's reviewer concluded that unlike Falcon, there was little there to interest the general reader.
Scottish Society of Playwrights
- British Film Institute: Spindrift (1959), an adaptation by Ada F. Kay of the original version by Naomi Mitchison, produced by BBC Scotland
- brief article on her
- Scottish Women Playwrights Against Zero Visibility, Ksenija Horvat
- guide to her books as "A.J. Stewart"