Page last updated at 13:28 GMT, Tuesday, 21 April 2009 14:28 UK

Blue plaque for playwright's home

Lynne and George Parker
Lynne and George Parker, niece and brother of playwright Stewart Parker at the house where he was born

A blue plaque marking the birthplace of Belfast playwright and poet Stewart Parker has been unveiled by his niece.

Lynne Parker performed the ceremony at the house in Larkfield Road, Sydenham, in the east of the city where her uncle spent his early years.

Stewart Parker died in 1988 after battling cancer. He was 46 years of age.

Among the works for which he is best known are the plays Spokesong and Catchpenny Twist.

Ms Parker has followed family tradition and is director of the Dublin-based theatre company Rough Magic.

Stewart Parker (Pic courtesy of Queen's University Belfast
Stewart Parker's Belfast birthplace was marked with a blue plaque

She said her uncle had a "profound influence on her work in the theatre".

"This plaque is a recognition of Stewart's work and it is long overdue.

"It's good that it has been put up in the neighbourhood where he grew up."

Stewart Parker was born on 20 October 1941 into a Protestant working class family.

Before graduating from Queen's University he contracted bone cancer and had a leg amputated.

Despite the setback, he continued to play a full part in student life. He was a member of Philip Hobsbaum's group of young poets, along with people like Seamus Heaney and Derek Mahon.

After university he moved to the USA to teach in Hamilton College and at Cornell University, then returned to the UK, living mainly in Edinburgh and London.

He contributed a column on pop music to the Irish Times and wrote the plays for which he is now famous.

His play Spokesong depicted life through the eyes of the owner of a bicycle shop, while Catchpenny Twist, a television play, was about the Eurovision Song Contest and has a tragic sting in the tail.

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