Muriel Spark

Dame Muriel Spark, DBE was a prolific Scottish novelist, short story writer, and poet whose darkly comedic voice made her one of the most distinctive writers of the twentieth century. In 2008 The Times newspaper named Spark in its list of “the 50 greatest British writers since 1945”.

Spark received the James Tait Black Memorial Prize in 1965 for The Mandelbaum Gate, the Ingersoll Foundation TS Eliot Award in 1992 and the David Cohen Prize in 1997. She became Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1993, in recognition of her services to literature. She has been twice shortlisted for the Booker Prize, in 1969 for The Public Image and in 1981 for Loitering with Intent. In 1998, she was awarded the Golden PEN Award by English PEN for “a Lifetime’s Distinguished Service to Literature”. In 2010, Spark was shortlisted for the Lost Man Booker Prize of 1970 for The Driver’s Seat.

Spark received eight honorary doctorates in her lifetime. These included a Doctor of the University degree (Honoris causa) from her alma mater, Heriot-Watt University in 1995; a Doctor of Humane Letters (Honoris causa) from the American University of Paris in 2005; and Honorary Doctor of Letters degrees from the Universities of Aberdeen, Edinburgh, London, Oxford, St Andrews and Strathclyde.

Spark grew up in Edinburgh and worked as a department store secretary, writer for trade magazines, and literary editor before publishing her first novel, The Comforters, in 1957. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, published in 1961, and considered her masterpiece, was made into a stage play, a TV series, and a film.

Books in order of publication:


Other works

  • Tribute to Wordsworth (edited with Derek Stanford, 1950)
  • Child of Light (a study of Mary Shelley) (1951)
  • The Fanfarlo and Other Verse (1952)
  • Selected Poems of Emily Brontë (1952)
  • John Masefield (biography, 1953)
  • Emily Brontë: Her Life and Work (with Derek Stanford; 1953)
  • My Best Mary (a selection of letters of Mary Shelley, edited with Derek Stanford, 1953)
  • The Brontë letters (1954)
  • Letters of John Henry Newman (edited with Derek Stanford, 1957)
  • The Go-away Bird (short stories, 1958)
  • Voices at Play (short stories and plays, 1961)
  • Doctors of Philosophy (play, 1963)
  • Collected Poems I (1967)
  • Collected Stories I (1967)
  • The Very Fine Clock (children’s book, illustrations by Edward Gorey, 1968)
  • Bang-bang You’re Dead (short stories, 1982)
  • Mary Shelley (complete revision of Child of Light, 1987)
  • Going Up to Sotheby’s and Other Poems (1982)
  • Curriculum Vitae (autobiography, 1992)
  • The French Window and the Small Telephone (limited edition, 1993)
  • Complete Short Stories (2001)
  • All the Poems (2004)
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