Muriel Spark - Author

About the Author

Muriel Spark, DBE, C.Litt., was born in Edinburgh in 1918 and educated in Scotland. A poet and novelist, she also wrote children’s books, radio plays, a comedy Doctors of Philosophy, (first performed in London in 1962 and published 1963) and biographies of nineteenth-century literary figures, including Mary Shelley and Emily Brontë.

For her long career of literary achievement, which began in 1951, when she won a short-story competition in the Observer, Muriel Spark garnered international praise and many awards, which include the David Cohen Prize for Literature, the Ingersoll T.S. Eliot Award, the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, the Boccaccio Prize for European Literature, the Gold Pen Award, the first Enlightenment Award and the Italia Prize for dramatic radio. She died in 2006.

Author photo © P A Archive and Press Association Images

Featured books by Muriel Spark

The Finishing School

The Finishing School

Author: Muriel Spark Format: Hardback Release Date: 06/09/2018

Often described as the perfect partner to The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Spark's last novel is set in Switzerland where Rowland and his wife Nina run a finishing school. Murderous jealousy soon rears its head when a precocious young student shows promise in her writing career. This is `Spark at her sharpest, her purest and her most merciful' - Ali Smith. This is one of the 22 novels written by Muriel Spark in her lifetime. All are being published by Polygon in hardback Centenary Editions between November 2017 and September 2018.

eBooks of the Month
The Hothouse by the East River

The Hothouse by the East River

Author: Muriel Spark Format: Hardback Release Date: 10/05/2018

‘As early as 1965, Muriel Spark had a title in mind for a new book. That title was Hothouse East River. The novel itself, however, would not appear until 1973, much changed from its original incarnation, as Spark herself would confide during a 1970 interview with the Guardian newspaper: ‘I’m so interested in the present tense that I’ve redone a book I’ve been working on for three years, “The Hot House by the East River”, and put it all in the present tense.’ … the novel she would eventually pen about New York would be one of her strangest, most jarring works, painting an unflattering portrait of the city’s wealthier denizens and their spiritually empty lives…I wonder what Spark would do with the world of 2017 and 2018; I wish she were around to answer that…The Hothouse by the East River is as strange and dislocating as anything Muriel Spark wrote, a book absolutely right for its period and setting. She saw through the Manhattan social scene and discovered an Unreal City. She had journeyed a long way from childhood Edinburgh and wartime England, but she had more travelling still to do.’  From the Introduction by Ian Rankin   This is one novel in the absolutely glorious, must-have, complete collection of all 22 novels by Muriel Spark. This series is a wonderful way to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Muriel Spark’s birth. Edited by Alan Taylor, author of Appointment In Arezzo, A Friendship with Muriel Spark, each perfectly sized and beautiful hardback book is introduced by a leading writer. Each introduction, while individually touching on thoughts and feelings, mentions the originality, the wit and humour, the cleverness of the writing. Whether an existing fan, or new to her works, this collection from one of our greatest writers, beckons, and quite simply, just asks to be read and re-read.  ~ Lovereading.co.uk

eBooks of the Month
The Driver's Seat

The Driver's Seat

Author: Muriel Spark Format: Hardback Release Date: 05/04/2018

‘She wrote The Driver’s Seat in under eight weeks in 1969. Trips away from her desk in Rome were mainly for shopping… I mean, what is shopping, what is a purchase, if not a more or less intense moment of desire settled by a sudden act of volition? Which brings us to the heart of The Driver’s Seat…The novel opens in, you guessed it, a boutique, where our heroine, Lise, is getting into an argument about a dress… Spark deconstructs the murder mystery novel with The Driver’s Seat, turning everything on its head, not least the easy separation of killer and killed… It is hard to think of any novelist, in today’s environment, who would risk creating a female character who plots her own victimisation. But courage is as courage does. Spark wrote it fifty years ago and the result is a little masterpiece of fiction.’  From the Introduction by Andrew O’Hagan This is one novel in the absolutely glorious, must-have, complete collection of all 22 novels by Muriel Spark. This series is a wonderful way to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Muriel Spark’s birth. Edited by Alan Taylor, author of Appointment In Arezzo, A Friendship with Muriel Spark, each perfectly sized and beautiful hardback book is introduced by a leading writer. Each introduction, while individually touching on thoughts and feelings, mentions the originality, the wit and humour, the cleverness of the writing. Whether an existing fan, or new to her works, this collection from one of our greatest writers, beckons, and quite simply, just asks to be read and re-read.  ~ Lovereading.co.uk

The Public Image

The Public Image

Author: Muriel Spark Format: Hardback Release Date: 05/04/2018

‘Annabel Christopher, an English actress of the 1960s, is described to us by everybody: her husband, their friends, neighbours, directors, film buffs, reporters and, repeatedly, by Spark herself, who circles ever closer to her prey… Spark doesn’t ignore the difficulties involved in getting us to care about this characterless movie star. While she exults in her vapidity, she also adroitly circumvents it by making Annabel real… To endear Annabel to us yet further, Spark gives her a traitorous quibbler of a husband who’s always correcting Annabel’s grammar… The question hovers over the novel: is Annabel stupid? Her husband thinks so, her directors hope so. Spark takes this opportunity to mock all of humanity for having the chutzpah to make any claims to intelligence, suggesting it’s probably way beyond our reach.’ From the Introduction by Lucy Ellmann This is one novel in the absolutely glorious, must-have, complete collection of all 22 novels by Muriel Spark. This series is a wonderful way to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Muriel Spark’s birth. Edited by Alan Taylor, author of Appointment In Arezzo, A Friendship with Muriel Spark, each perfectly sized and beautiful hardback book is introduced by a leading writer. Each introduction, while individually touching on thoughts and feelings, mentions the originality, the wit and humour, the cleverness of the writing. Whether an existing fan, or new to her works, this collection from one of our greatest writers, beckons, and quite simply, just asks to be read and re-read.  ~ Lovereading.co.uk

eBooks of the Month
The Bachelors

The Bachelors

Author: Muriel Spark Format: Hardback Release Date: 08/02/2018

‘[The Bachelors] appeared at a time when, in the words of her biographer Martin Stannard, she ‘sensed the possibility of a radical change in the direction of her career – towards the theatre’… The theatrical infatuation cooled down, but The Bachelors bears its mark… The London of The Bachelors, set in the autumn of 1959, is depicted with minimal brush strokes… It is tempting to say that the London of The Bachelors no longer exists; but it does… ‘Fraudulent conversion’ takes place in a variety of forms. The voices which Spark overheard and recast in neater form are all around, funny and grave at the same time.’ From the introduction by James Campbell This is one novel in the absolutely glorious, must-have, complete collection of all 22 novels by Muriel Spark. This series is a wonderful way to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Muriel Spark’s birth. Edited by Alan Taylor, author of Appointment In Arezzo, A Friendship with Muriel Spark, each perfectly sized and beautiful hardback book is introduced by a leading writer. Each introduction, while individually touching on thoughts and feelings, mentions the originality, the wit and humour, the cleverness of the writing. Whether an existing fan, or new to her works, this collection from one of our greatest writers, beckons, and quite simply, just asks to be read and re-read.  ~ Lovereading.co.uk

eBooks of the Month
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

Author: Muriel Spark Format: Hardback Release Date: 08/02/2018

‘By 1960, Spark was a novelist of some renown. But it was her next novel, her sixth, which would make her famous and well off enough to determine where and how she wanted to live, and the books she would write. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie is near perfect in its design and execution. It is at once traditional and experimental. Rich in period detail, it is nevertheless as spare and taut as one of Simenon’s thrillers and as light as a soufflé… So reliable was her income from The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie that she gratefully called it her ‘milch cow’. Readers may feel the same for it is a novel that never palls; it pleases and perplexes and produces surprises with every reading, and, like all great books, it is ageless, vindication of why its inspired creator became a novelist.’   From the introduction by Alan Taylor This is one novel in the absolutely glorious, must-have, complete collection of all 22 novels by Muriel Spark. This series is a wonderful way to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Muriel Spark’s birth. Edited by Alan Taylor, author of Appointment In Arezzo, A Friendship with Muriel Spark, each perfectly sized and beautiful hardback book is introduced by a leading writer. Each introduction, while individually touching on thoughts and feelings, mentions the originality, the wit and humour, the cleverness of the writing. Whether an existing fan, or new to her works, this collection from one of our greatest writers, beckons, and quite simply, just asks to be read and re-read.  ~ Lovereading.co.uk

eBooks of the Month
The Girls of Slender Means

The Girls of Slender Means

Author: Muriel Spark Format: Hardback Release Date: 08/02/2018

‘There is a palpable sense as The Girls of Slender Means opens of the curtain rising, catching people in mid-conversation, in half-spoken sentences, and banal acts that, ordinary though they seem, prove to be telling. A slender novel it might be, but every word has heft… This was Spark’s seventh novel, published in November 1963, in the wake of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, which had come out two years before. It was, thus, the first novel she wrote when she was famous, conditions she had never before worked under… Opening a few days after the VE Day celebrations on 8 May 1945, rising to a crescendo after the General Election of July, in which Churchill was ousted, and fading out with London’s seething VJ Day party on the night of 15 August 1945, it is one of very few immediate post-war novels by a novelist who lived through it… And for all the soul-searching found in this novel, and its terrible glimpses of evil, it is a book that rings with merriment.’     From the introduction by Rosemary Goring This is one novel in the absolutely glorious, must-have, complete collection of all 22 novels by Muriel Spark. This series is a wonderful way to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Muriel Spark’s birth. Edited by Alan Taylor, author of Appointment In Arezzo, A Friendship with Muriel Spark, each perfectly sized and beautiful hardback book is introduced by a leading writer. Each introduction, while individually touching on thoughts and feelings, mentions the originality, the wit and humour, the cleverness of the writing. Whether an existing fan, or new to her works, this collection from one of our greatest writers, beckons, and quite simply, just asks to be read and re-read.  ~ Lovereading.co.uk

eBooks of the Month
The Mandelbaum Gate

The Mandelbaum Gate

Author: Muriel Spark Format: Hardback Release Date: 08/02/2018

‘It is clear that the novel was meant by Spark to be different from those she had previously written… For one thing it was considerably longer than the earlier books; for another it seemed to consist of a much more traditional relation of dialogue to exposition and description than had been the case hitherto. But, most importantly, it seemed to be what so many great English novels have been through the ages, a thinly disguised autobiography, the author (here a woman in her thirties) seeking to discover her identity as she leaves her youth behind…Two characteristic features of Spark’s fiction are central to the feel of the novel: its affinity to poetry, not only the liberal quotation of actual poetry in its pages but also the way the prose seems always to be taking off into song or dance; and the use of prolepsis, that procedure characteristic of Spark’s beloved Border Ballads, whereby something that is to happen later is signalled long before it arrives, a device that would appear at first sight likely to rob the work of any forward momentum but that in fact has the opposite effect…’   From the introduction by Gabriel Josipovici This is one novel in the absolutely glorious, must-have, complete collection of all 22 novels by Muriel Spark. This series is a wonderful way to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Muriel Spark’s birth. Edited by Alan Taylor, author of Appointment In Arezzo, A Friendship with Muriel Spark, each perfectly sized and beautiful hardback book is introduced by a leading writer. Each introduction, while individually touching on thoughts and feelings, mentions the originality, the wit and humour, the cleverness of the writing. Whether an existing fan, or new to her works, this collection from one of our greatest writers, beckons, and quite simply, just asks to be read and re-read.  ~ Lovereading.co.uk

eBooks of the Month
A Far Cry From Kensington

A Far Cry From Kensington

Author: Muriel Spark Format: Hardback Release Date: 07/12/2017

‘Like most people, I came to Spark’s work through the 1969 film of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and this prompted me to start reading her other novels… Her novels are very varied – there are surreal novels, allegorical novels, some almost philosophical fables – but all are united by a tone of voice, a very dry sense of humour, and a particularly honed, terse style… In A Far Cry From Kensington, Spark, that most enigmatic, canny and secretive of novelists, draws back the veils that obscured her years in London in the 1960’s and presents herself and her view of life and the world to us. As we read, we realise we are in the hands of a great artist: the experience is both revelatory and exhilarating.’ From the introduction by William Boyd. This is one novel in the absolutely glorious, must-have, complete collection of all 22 novels by Muriel Spark. This series is a wonderful way to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Muriel Spark’s birth. Edited by Alan Taylor, author of Appointment In Arezzo, A Friendship with Muriel Spark, each perfectly sized and beautiful hardback book is introduced by a leading writer. Each introduction, while individually touching on thoughts and feelings, mentions the originality, the wit and humour, the cleverness of the writing. Whether an existing fan, or new to her works, this collection from one of our greatest writers, beckons, and quite simply, just asks to be read and re-read.  ~ Lovereading.co.uk    

Robinson

Robinson

Author: Muriel Spark Format: Hardback Release Date: 02/11/2017

'Robinson is Spark’s second novel. Already she has her great subjects: truth, power, faith, what we may do to pretend or delude ourselves that we have agency in our own lives, what powers an artist, perhaps specifically a novelist, may take to themself. Already she has her diction, so clear that it frees the reading mind to apprehend things unsaid… Spark was first a poet; and always a poet. Hers is a music that is also unaffectedly and innately Scots. The rhythms and particularities recall the unmercy, the myth, and the wildlife, of ballad.' From the introduction by Candia McWilliam This is one novel in the absolutely glorious, must-have, complete collection of all 22 novels by Muriel Spark. This series is a wonderful way to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Muriel Spark’s birth. Edited by Alan Taylor, author of Appointment In Arezzo, A Friendship with Muriel Spark, each perfectly sized and beautiful hardback book is introduced by a leading writer. Each introduction, while individually touching on thoughts and feelings, mentions the originality, the wit and humour, the cleverness of the writing. Whether an existing fan, or new to her works, this collection from one of our greatest writers, beckons, and quite simply, just asks to be read and re-read.  ~ Lovereading.co.uk

eBooks of the Month
The Complete Short Stories

The Complete Short Stories

Author: Muriel Spark Format: Paperback Release Date: 18/08/2011

Muriel Spark coolly probes the idiosyncrasies that lurk beneath the veneer of human respectability, displaying the acerbic wit and wisdom that are the hallmarks of her unique talent. The Complete Short Stories is a collection to be loved and cherished, from one of the finest short-story writers of the twentieth century.

eBooks of the Month
Finishing School

Finishing School

Author: Muriel Spark Format: Ebook Release Date: 01/01/2006

College Sunrise is a vaguely disreputable finishing school in Lausanne, Switzerland. Rowland Mahler and his wife, Nina, run the school as a way to support themselves while he works, somewhat falteringly, on his novel. Into his creative writing class comes seventeen-year-old Chris Wiley, a literary prodigy whose historical novel-in-progress on Mary Queen of Scots and the murder of her husband Lord Darnley has already excited the interest of publishers. The inevitable results are keen envy and a game of cat and mouse not free of sexual jealousy and attraction. Nobody writing has a keener instinct than Muriel Spark for hypocrisy, self-delusion, and moral ambiguity, or a more deliciously satirical eye. The Finishing School is certain to be another Spark landmark.

eBooks of the Month
The Ballad of Peckham Rye

The Ballad of Peckham Rye

Author: Muriel Spark Format: Paperback Release Date: 18/10/2021

A bewitching comic masterpiece, The Ballad of Peckham Rye relates the tale of one Dougal Douglas, who is taken on by a small textile firm to `bring vision into the lives of the workers'. A devilishly charismatic force of nature who likes nothing better than to stir things up, he takes great delight in wreaking havoc with the locals. Nervous breakdowns, sexual misdemeanours, a heart attack and murder ensue . . . This is Spark at her most ingenious. The publishers acknowledge investment from Creative Scotland towards the publication of this book. Supported by the Muriel Spark Society.

The Comforters

The Comforters

Author: Muriel Spark Format: Paperback Release Date: 18/10/2021

In Muriel Spark's fantastic first novel, the only things that aren't ambiguous are her matchless originality and glittering wit. Caroline Rose is plagued by the tapping of typewriter keys and the strange, detached narration of her every thought and action. She has an unusual problem - she realises she is in a novel. Her fellow characters are also possibly deluded: Laurence, her former lover, finds diamonds in a loaf of bread - could his elderly grandmother really be a smuggler? And Baron Stock, her bookseller friend, believes he is on the trail of England's leading Satanist. A comedy of errors, a crime novel, a book about books, Spark's debut remains as otherworldly and mischievous as it was when first published sixty years ago. The publishers acknowledge investment from Creative Scotland towards the publication of this book. Supported by the Muriel Spark Society.

eBooks of the Month

Author: Muriel Spark Format: Release Date: 01/01/1970

Described by David Lodge as `her first masterpiece', Memento Mori opens with a telephone call and the words `Remember you must die'. Over several months, a circle of elderly men and women receive similar calls and everyone becomes a suspect. As the investigating police inspector muses: `Death, when it approaches, ought not to take one by surprise. It should be part of the full expectancy of life. Without an ever-present sense of death, life is insipid. You might as well live on the whites of eggs.' While immersed in the indignities of old age, dementia and death, this novel is both profoundly compassionate and entertaining. The publishers acknowledge investment from Creative Scotland towards the publication of this book. Supported by the Muriel Spark Society.

eBooks of the Month

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