William Watson (writer)

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William Watson
Born 30 April 1931
Died 5 December 2005
Pen name J.K. Mayo
Occupation author, playwright
Nationality Scottish
Genre Spy fiction
Historical fiction

William Hugh Charles Watson was a Scottish author, playwright and newspaper editor. He was initially Literary and then Features editor of the Scotsman newspaper.[1]

Born in Edinburgh on 30 April 1931,[2] he attended Edinburgh Academy and then entered Edinburgh and Oxford universities but did not complete either course.

He commenced writing novels in 1969 with Better than One and then two historical novels entitled Beltran in Exile (1979) about the Crusaders and The Knight on the Bridge (1982) about the Cathars. These two latter books are generally regarded as his best works.

Between 1970 and 1972 he wrote three plays; Footstool for God, set in Rosslyn Chapel,The Larch and Dodwell's Last Trump. He also co-wrote Sawney Bean with Robert Nye in 1970,[2] and, with Nye, Stanley Eveling, Alan Jackson, Clarisse Eriksson, John Downing and David Mowat an adaptation of Dracula which premiered in Edinburgh in 1969, and in London in 1972.[3]

He wrote six spy thrillers under the nom-de-plume of J K Mayo between 1986 and 1997 using a middle-aged, irritable, Gauloise-smoking ex-army Colonel named Harry Seddall as his hero for these popular books. An interesting aside is his apparent enjoyment of using little-known and obscure words to enhance his excellent descriptions of places and intelligent conversations throughout the books.

Alcohol addiction coupled with visions caused him to take occasional breaks from general society but he managed to remain teetotal during his writing phase. Unfortunately he eventually succumbed again to alcohol during the his final years.

He died in an Edinburgh nursing home on 5 December 2005 after a long illness.[2]

He left a wife Catherine Robins.

Selected works[edit]

Nr Name Type Year
1. Better than One Novel 1969
2. Sawney Bean Play 1970
3. A Footstool for God Play 1972
4. Beltran in Exile (The Last of the Templars) Historical novel 1979
5. The Knight on the Bridge Historical novel 1982
6. The Hunting Season1 Spy novel 1986
7. Wolf's Head1 Spy novel 1987
8. Cry Havoc1 Spy novel 1990
9. A Shred of Honour1 Spy novel 1993
10. The Masterless Men1 Spy novel 1995
11. The Interloper1 Spy novel 1997

1 Published under the pseudonym of J.K. Mayo.


  1. ^ Calder, John (9 December 2005). "Bill Watson". The Guardian. 
  2. ^ a b c Taylor, Alan (10 December 2005). "Bill Watson Prolific author and gentleman journalist". 
  3. ^ Browning, John Edgar; Picart, Caroline Joan (2011). Dracula in Visual Media: Film, Television, Comic Book and Electronic Game Appearances, 1921-2010. McFarland. p. 285. ISBN 9780786433650.