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Persons Unknown by Susie Steiner Read the opening extract of the brand new Susie Steiner book before its publication on 05/04/2018

Muriel Spark, the Centenary Muriel Spark, the Centenary

2018 marks the centenary of the birth of the iconic writer Muriel Spark. Best-known as the author of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Dame Muriel was a poet, writer of fiction, criticism and literary biography, and was at the top of her profession, internationally, for more than half a century. Never out of print, Muriel Spark wrote many well-known novels including The Driver’s Seat, The Girls of Slender Means and Memento Mori. Her work found critical approval, and her novels, where the supernatural and the surreal come into collision – and collusion – with the everyday, helped to change the face of fiction in the English language. Find out more about Muriel Spark and her books in this special category, and for a chance to win all 22 novels as special hardback editions over the year click on any of the books below.

Featured Books
Not to Disturb by Muriel Spark, Prof. Dan Gunn
Not to Disturb
Muriel Spark, Prof. Dan Gunn
‘One of the chief worries besetting any author of an introduction to a novel is that of letting the cat out of the bag… From its opening pages, through the utterances of its protagonist, the butler Lister, Not to Disturb...
Format: Hardback - Released: 10/05/2018
The Hothouse by the East River by Muriel Spark, Ian Rankin
The Hothouse by the East River
Muriel Spark, Ian Rankin
‘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...
Format: Hardback - Released: 10/05/2018
The Public Image by Muriel Spark
The Public Image
Muriel Spark
‘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...
Format: Hardback - Released: 05/04/2018
The Driver's Seat by Muriel Spark
The Driver's Seat
Muriel Spark
‘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...
Format: Hardback - Released: 05/04/2018
The Mandelbaum Gate by Muriel Spark
The Mandelbaum Gate
Muriel Spark
‘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...
Format: Hardback - Released: 08/02/2018
The Girls of Slender Means by Muriel Spark
The Girls of Slender Means
Muriel Spark
‘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...
Format: Hardback - Released: 08/02/2018
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie
Muriel Spark
‘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...
Format: Hardback - Released: 08/02/2018
The Bachelors by Muriel Spark
The Bachelors
Muriel Spark
‘[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...
Format: Hardback - Released: 08/02/2018
A Far Cry From Kensington by Muriel Spark
A Far Cry From Kensington
Muriel Spark
‘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...
Format: Hardback - Released: 07/12/2017
Robinson by Muriel Spark
Muriel Spark
'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...
Format: Hardback - Released: 02/11/2017
Memento Mori by Muriel Spark
Memento Mori
Muriel Spark
'One of the many delights of a Muriel Spark novel is the way in which the ground shifts so delicately under the reader’s feet. In an interview to mark the publication of the book in 1959, Spark said: ‘The prospect...
Format: Hardback - Released: 02/11/2017
The Comforters by Muriel Spark
The Comforters
Muriel Spark
'There are two plots in The Comforters. One is fanciful and improbable; the other imaginative and convincingly real. The first is charming; the second disturbing… There is evidence of what would come to be recognised as the characteristic Spark touch:...
Format: Hardback - Released: 02/11/2017
The Ballad of Peckham Rye by Muriel Spark
The Ballad of Peckham Rye
Muriel Spark
‘You either ‘get’ Spark or you don’t. She always was different, and became more so with practice. An appetite for caricatures, for types… The Ballad of Peckham Rye is a comedy – some critics have trouble remembering that – filled...
Format: Hardback - Released: 02/11/2017
Appointment in Arezzo A friendship with Muriel Spark by Alan Taylor
Appointment in Arezzo A friendship with Muriel Spark
Alan Taylor
It’s the 100th anniversary of Muriel Spark’s birth in 2018 and therefore time for a reappraisal of a novelist whose influence and importance are often overlooked. Alan Taylor got to know Spark very well and gives a warm, gossipy and...
Format: Hardback - Released: 02/11/2017
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See ALL Featured Books (with opening extracts) in this category

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“Muriel Spark is not only the greatest Scottish novelist of the second half of the twentieth century, she is one of the world’s greatest writers. She may be best known for The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie but that is only one among many of her books that deserves to be read and re-read.”   Alan Taylor, Founding editor of The Scottish Review of Books and Author of Appointment in Arezzo: A friendship with Muriel Spark.

Throughout 2018 there will be special events to celebrate the life and work of Muriel Spark which begin with all 22 novels being published in special hardback Centenary Editions. Further events include:

* In early 2018 leading Scottish writers including Ali Smith and Val McDermid discuss the career of Muriel Spark in a series of essays to the broadcast on Radio 3.

* An exhibition at The Writer's Museum, Edinburgh, marking the birth of one of the city's most famous daughters, running from Feb - June 2018.

* May 2018, Open the Door 2018: Words with Women Writers is an online festival showcasing women's writing, with special reference to Muriel Spark

* October 2018 a series of Poetry Criticism workshops using the work of Muriel Spark as an example.

Find all events at


Muriel Spark, DBE, C.Litt., was born in Edinburgh on 1 February 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 13 April 2006.

Find out more @MurielSpark100 and

You can find Muriel Spark’s full bibliography and more information about her life on the National Library of Scotland’s Muriel Spark website.

Muriel Spark
Alan Taylor