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Frank Scott

    Unfortunately China Run is a novel, pure and simple. However, the author had a most interesting career, and quite a few people believed that this novel was based on fact.

    I can do not better than quote some extracts from the author’s obituary in The Independant (15 June 1995)

    “Which amateur footballer captained a professional league team and won an Academy Award for scriptwriting? Neil Paterson is the answer. He was captain of Dundee United in the 1936-37 season and won his Oscar for the film Room at the Top in 1960 (and for job satisfaction he rated the former higher).”

    “Then came The China Run. Published in 1948 and sub-titled ”the biography of a great-grandmother”, the book chronicled the adventures of Christian West, captain of a tea-clipper. It was assumed, until very recently, that Christian West was Paterson’s great-grandmother, particularly as in the introduction Paterson describes staring at two portraits of her and deciding, as they did her no justice, to paint a third portrait of her in words. In fact Christian West was fictitious, but so convincing was the ”biography” that historians have since attempted to research her life further. China Run was voted book of 1948 by Somerset Maugham in the New York Times.”

    James Edmund Neil Paterson, writer, footballer, screenwriter: born Greenock, Renfrewshire 31 December 1915; died Crieff 19 April 1995