Elizabeth Kata

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Elizabeth Katayama
Born Elizabeth Colina McDonald
(1912-10-09)9 October 1912
Sydney, Australia
Died 4 September 1998(1998-09-04) (aged 85)
Sydney, Australia
Pen name Elizabeth Kata
Occupation Novelist
Nationality Australian
Years active 1959–1989
Spouse Shinshiro Katayama

Elizabeth Colina Katayama (née McDonald; 9 October 1912 – 4 September 1998) was an Australian writer under the pseudonym Elizabeth Kata, best known for Be Ready with Bells and Drums (1961), which was made into the award-winning film A Patch of Blue (1965).[1]

She was born of Scottish parents in Sydney in 1912. After marrying the Japanese pianist Shinshiro Katayama in 1937, she lived for ten years in Japan. During the last years of World War II she was interned at the mountain resort village of Karuizawa, Nagano. She returned to Australia in 1947 with her baby son, battling the Australian Government for permission.

As well as writing novels, she also wrote for television and several Hollywood scripts. Her first novel, Be Ready with Bells and Drums (written in 1959, first published in 1961), was produced as the film A Patch of Blue (1965). Shelley Winters playing the role of Rose-Ann D'Arcey won an Academy Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role. Guy Green, who directed, also adapted Kata's book and his screenplay was nominated for a Writers Guild of America award. After the success of the film, the novel was re-released as A Patch of Blue. The book was for many years included in the "school book list" both in the US and Australia. The book Mrs Katayama and Her Splash of Blue (2010, Independence Jones), covers how Elizabeth Kata's first book became the film A Patch of Blue.

Elizabeth Katayama died in Sydney in 1998.


  • Be Ready with Bells and Drums (1961; re-published as A Patch of Blue)
  • Someone Will Conquer Them (1962)
  • Tilda (1979)
  • Child of the Holocaust (1980)
  • The Death of Ruth (1981)
  • With Kisses on Both Cheeks (1981)
  • Sarah (1982)
  • Kagami (1989)


  1. ^ Kringas, Damian. "Kata, Elizabeth". Dictionary of Sydney. Retrieved 6 November 2015. 

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