Muriel Spark novels centenary re-edition – November 2017/September 2018
As part of this centenary celebration, we are delighted to announce that all 22 Muriel Spark novels will be re-edited by Polygon, an imprint of Birlinn ltd. Republished in stunning hardback Centenary Editions in vibrant covers, each novel will host a specially commissioned introduction by leading writers, including Candia McWilliam, Allan Massie and Alexander McCall Smith. Publication begins with the first four novels in November 2017 – The Comforters, Momento Mori, Robinson and The Ballad of Peckham Rye and runs through to August 2018.
Publication schedule available here.
Publication is supported by Creative Scotland and The Muriel Spark Society.
Appointment in Arezzo: A friendship with Muriel Spark – November 2017
Alan Taylor, longstanding friend and travel companion to Muriel Spark, editor of the Birlinn novels re-edition series, well-known literary journalist for over 30 years and author of many books including The Assassin’s Cloak, Glasgow: The Autobiography will publish in November 2017 Appointment in Arezzo: A friendship with Muriel Spark, an intimate, fond and funny memoir of one of the greatest novelists of the last century.
The Bottle Imp, special feature on Muriel Spark – November 2017
Special issue about Muriel Spark with articles by Zoe Strachan, Alistair Braidwood, Gerry Carruthers, Willy Maley, Eleanor Byrne, Micahel Gardiner and Marilyn Reizbaum.
Miss Blaine’s Prefect and the Golden Samovar, Olga Wojtas – January 2018
Miss Blaine’s Prefect and the Golden Samovar, the debut novel by Olga Wojtas published by Saraband on 25 January 2018, is an affectionate homage to Muriel Spark’s most famous book.
Scottish Review of Books special edition – 10 February 2018
Special edition with articles and reviews by Zoe Strachan, Alan Taylor, Stewart Conn, Joseph Farrell and James Campbell.
Carcanet Press re-release of Curriculum Vitae, Muriel Spark – February 2018
In February 2018, Carcanet will be re-releasing Muriel Spark’s great autobiography – Curriculum Vitae – which traces how one of the great modern writers in English emerged. Beginning with luminous evocations of a 1920s childhood in Edinburgh and memories of school, taught by the original Miss Jean Brodie, Spark recalls her formative years, up to the publication of her first novel in 1957 and outlines the life that provided material for some of the best-loved novels of the twentieth century. ‘In order to write about life as I intended to do, I felt I had first to live,’ Spark says.
A Good Comb: The Sayings of Muriel Spark, New Directions Publishing – January 2018
Published by New Directions, A Good Comb is a small edition of Dame Spark’s brilliant asides, sayings, and aphorisms and is edited by Penelope Jardine, Muriel Spark’s friend and holder of the Muriel Spark estate.
Dundee University Review of the Arts – Jan-Feb 2018
DURA has published several reviews of Spark’s novels including The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, The Public Image, The Comforters and Aiding and Abetting.
Textual Practice – November 2018
Special issue of the Textual Practice journal with contributions from critics, including Spark’s biographer Martin Stannard, and from creative writers, including Leila Aboulela, Janice Galloway, Zoe Strachan, and Louise Welsh.
Centenary TV/Radio productions
The Many Primes of Muriel Spark, documentary – BBC Two Scotland – 31 Jan 2018 and online
Don’t miss this great an hour-long BBC documentary presented by broadcaster Kirsty Wark, celebrating a unique voice in 20th century literature.
Kirsty Wark retraces Muriel’s footsteps from the cobbled streets of Edinburgh to the sublime beauty of Victoria Falls. Contributions from writers AL Kennedy, Janice Galloway, Ali Smith, William Boyd and Val McDermid tell of Muriel Spark’s unique literary style and a life full of reinvention. Kirsty meets with the journalist Alan Taylor, who has recently published his memoir of Muriel, and she travels to Italy for the first television interview with Penelope Jardine, Muriel’s close friend of 40 years.
Filmed, Produced and Directed by Morag Tinto; Executive Producer: Tanya Hudson
The Vital Spark: Appointment in Arezzo – BBC Radio 4, Book of the Week – 1-6 Jan 2018
A colourful portrait of one of the twentieth century’s great writers. When journalist Alan Taylor travelled to the Italian town of Arezzo to interview Muriel Spark, it was the beginning of a friendship which would last for years. On regular visits to her Italian villa and on trips accompanying the author to literary festivals across Europe Taylor gained a unique insight into the character of this fascinating artist.
Abridged by Laurence Wareing; Read by Paul Higgins; Producer: Eilidh McCreadie.
The Vital Spark: Intelligence – BBC Radio 4 Drama – 5 Jan 2018
During the Second World War, the young Muriel Spark worked in the British ‘Black Propaganda’ Department of MI6. Her job was to produce what she called ‘a tangled mixture of damaging lies, flattering and plausible truths’. By Sarah Wooley, produced by Gaynor Macfarlane.
The Vital Spark: A Far Cry from Kensington, BBC Radio 4 – Book at Bedtime
Muriel Spark’s playful and autobiographical novel set amid London’s post-war publishing scene.Read by Maggie Service, Abridged by Rosemary Goring, Producer: Eilidh McCreadie.
The Vital Spark: Memento Mori, BBC Radio 4 – Drama
Muriel Spark’s gloriously dark comedy about death. Set among a group of elderly people, the story begins with what appears to be an ordinary crime and ends up as a metaphysical mystery. Adapted by Robin Brooks. Directed by Gaynor Macfarlane.
The Vital Spark: The Driver’s Seat, BBC Radio 4 – Drama
One of Spark’s most gripping and disturbing books. Adapted by Beatrice Colin. Directed by Gaynor Macfarlane.
A Celebration of Muriel Spark, BBC Radio 4 – Open Book
A celebration of Muriel Spark, who was born in 1918. Alan Taylor who has written a memoir about his friendship with the novelist, and author William Boyd, a lifelong fan of her work join Mariella Frostrup to share their love of her writing.
Sunday Morning With… – BBC Radio Scotland, 28 Jan 2018
First February will mark the centenary of the birth of writer Muriel Spark. Her life and work was infused with her Catholicism. Dr Linden Bicket, from the University of Edinburgh’s School of Divinity, and the writer and critic Stuart Kelly talk about the role of religion in her body of written work, and her personal life.
All Miss Brodie’s Girls? – BBC Radio 3 – 5-9 Feb 2018
In this series, five female Scottish writers, Ali Smith (Monday) Kate Clanchy (Tuesday) Janice Galloway (Wednesday) Val McDermid (Thursday) Louise Welsh (Friday) present their very different takes on her life and work.
Landmark: The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (Free Thinking) – BBC Radio 3 – Feb 2018
Philip Dodd presents a Landmark edition examining Muriel Spark’s 1961 novel The Prime Of Miss Jean Brodie. He is joined by novelists Ian Rankin, Louise Welsh and former Bishop of Edinburgh Richard Holloway to examine this acclaimed and disturbing portrait of adolescent trauma and lost innocence.
92nd Street Y Poetry Center (New York City) – A Celebration of Muriel Spark – 1 February 2018
A Celebration of Muriel Spark with Rivka Galhen, Joseph O’Neill, Gerald Howard and Joseph Kanon. A tribute reading to celebrate the centenary of Muriel Spark.
An SRB Podcast special: Muriel Spark – The Crème de la Crème at the Usher Hall
Full recording of the ‘Muriel Spark: The Crème de la Crème’ event held at the Usher Hall in Edinburgh on 31st January 2018, with guest speakers Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister and great fan of Spark’s writing, Alexander McCall Smith, Ian Rankin, actors Maureen Beattie, Peter Forbes and Moyo Akandé, Alan Taylor and Rosemary Goring.
The People’s History Show on Spark – STV – 16 April 2018 and on STV Player
Fronted by STV viewers’ favourite Angus Simpson and returning host Sarah Mack, and with David Farrell bringing features from across the country, The People’s History Show looks back in time to discover the places and people that make up Scotland’s shared history. On 16 April 2018, the series pays tribute to iconic Edinburgh author Muriel Spark to mark the 100th anniversary of her birth.
Ali Smith and Alan Taylor on Muriel Spark at the London Review Bookshop
Journalist Alan Taylor in conversation about his memoir Appointment in Arezzo and about the life and work of Muriel Spark, with fellow enthusiast novelist Ali Smith.
This podcast was recorded at the London Review Bookshop on 9 February 2018 when guests talked about Spark’s work and legacy as well as her early life and her complicated relationships with her Jewish roots, her native Scotland and with her son Robin.
Scots Whay Hae! Podcast Celebrates The Life & Work Of Muriel Spark – 11 June 2018
Scots Whay Hae’s Alistair Braidwood looks at the life and work of Muriel Spark with Dr Colin McIlroy, the Muriel Spark Project Curator at the National Library of Scotland – who was instrumental in their recent The International Style of Muriel Spark Exhibition.
Visits / Tours
Walking Spark – Spring 2018
Edinburgh City of Literature Trust will be partnering with Mercat Tours to launch Spark walking tours from Spring 2018. See Muriel Spark’s work in the context of the city, explore the places which inspired her, hear her words and discover other women writers while walking the streets of the world’s first UNESCO City of Literature.
Exact opening date and more info to be announced soon.
About Muriel Spark and bibliography
This concise document highlights key information about the author and can easily be used as a poster to accompany books display or in preparation for an event.
Muriel Spark – screen adaptations
This document lists all TV and film adaptations of Spark’s work. Please check the Events page to find out where and when some of these screenings will be shown as part of the centenary programme. Please note that you can also find further information about film adaptations of Spark’s books and her relationship with cinema on the Scottish Book Trust website.
The Life and Times of Muriel Spark
Check out this great timeline designed by Birlinn Publishers and discover more about the main events in Dame Muriel’s life and career in parallel with the key world events of her time.
Edinburgh’s 101 Objects – The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie
The first edition of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie is number 39 of Edinburgh’s 101 objects – the campaign that lists 101 of Edinburgh’s most treasured objects and looks into our city’s history #Edinburgh101. More information about Dame Muriel’s famous novel here.
Muriel Spark – interviews and media resources
BBC Radio 3 – July 2006
Interview by John Tusa, managing director of the Barbican Centre of Muriel Spark.
BBC Radio 4, Front Row – February 2004
In an extended interview, Mark Lawson talks to Muriel Spark about her forthcoming book The Finishing School and a literary career that now spans six decades.
BBC 2, Bookmark: The Elusive Spark – 1996
Muriel Spark, one of the most brilliant and enigmatic of post-war writers, gives a rare interview at her home in Tuscany as the literature series returns. Director Eleanor Yule ; Series editor Roland Keating.
BBC Radio 4, Book Club – August 2004
James Naughtie and a group of readers are joined by Muriel Spark to discuss her novel The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie.
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Scottish Literature – Polygon’s Centenary Editions
Vikki Reilly and Kristian Kerr of Birlinn Ltd discuss Muriel Spark’s first novel, The Comforters, before talking to author Alan Taylor about his new book, Appointment in Arezzo: A Friendship with Muriel Spark.
Sandy Moffat on Dame Muriel Spark – February 2012
Sandy Moffat talks about his experience of painting a portrait of Dame Muriel Spark, Scottish novelist and author of ‘The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie’ and ‘The Girls of Slender Means’.
BBC2, The Snob – February 2011
Scottish crime writer Ian Rankin discusses Muriel Spark’s The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie with Sebastian Faulks.
BBC Radio 3, Free Thinking – June 2015
Rana Mitter explores the writing of Muriel Spark with Dr Sarah Dillon as Spark’s novel The Driver’s Seat is adapted by Laurie Sansom for The National Theatre of Scotland. A trailer of the play is still available online.
Joseph O’Neill Reads Muriel Spark, New Yorker Podcast – December 2014
Joseph O’Neill joins Deborah Treisman to read and discuss Muriel Spark’s The Ormolu Clock, from a 1960 issue of the New Yorker magazine.
Sparkiving: Loitering with intent to catalogue, National Library of Scotland Webcasts – June 2016
NLS Muriel Spark Project Curator, Dr Colin McIlroy, takes us on a journey through newly discovered highlights of author Muriel Spark’s archive.
BBC4, Scotland on Screen – August 2010 (37’08)
Scottish movie star Alan Cumming returns to his homeland to take a tour of the locations of some classic Scottish movies, including The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie.