Dame Muriel Spark was born 100 years ago today in Edinburgh. Only beginning to write seriously after the Second World War, Spark was a woman of many talents, who turned her hand to successfully writing novels, short stories, poetry, and essays.
Her best known work, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, was adapted into a film starring Maggie Smith. Several other of her novels have also been adapted to the stage, including Girls of Slender Means, and she has received several awards over the course of her career, including the James Tait Black Memorial Prize in 1965 for The Mandelbaum Gate, the David Cohen Prize in 1997, the Booker Prize in 1969 and 1981, and the Golden PEN Award in 1998.
To celebrate Spark’s birthday, why not take a jaunt around Edinburgh to spot the many references to her throughout the city? Walk through the Canongate, the Grassmarket, and the Lawnmarket, just as Miss Brodie and her pupils did in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. Visit the National Library of Scotland, home to the International Style of Muriel Spark exhibition, or even stroll past James Gillespie’s School for Girls, where Spark studied as a child. In the Makars’ Court at Lawnmarket, right beside the Writers’ Museum, there is a flagstone commemorating her life and work.
Muriel Spark 100
This year, The Muriel Spark 100 programme celebrates Spark as one of Scotland’s finest and most internationally respected writers. Events will be taking place across the country throughout the year up until the end of 2018. From talks to exhibitions, readings to screenings, there is so much to discover. Find out which events are happening near you.
Organised by the National Library of Scotland and Creative Scotland, the year-long celebration includes the re-publication of her 22 novels by Polygon, the unveiling of a Spark archive at the National Library of Scotland exhibition, a BBC Radio 3 series featuring Ali Smith, Val McDermid, Janice Galloway, Kate Clanchy, and Louise Welsh, an international symposium, and much more.
The 22 novels, to be published by Polygon, an imprint of Birlinn ltd, will be published in a collectable hardback centenary edition, carrying a series preface by editor Alan Taylor and an introduction by well-known writers and critics such as Ali Smith, William Boyd, Alexander McCall Smith, Candia McWilliam, James Wood, Andrew O’Hagan, Joseph Kanon, Zoë Strachan, Allan Massie, Kapka Kassabova, Dan Gunn Ian Rankin and Richard
Edinburgh City of Literature Trust will be partnering with Mercat Tours to launch Muriel Spark walking tours from Spring 2018. The tours will set Muriel Spark’s work in the context of the city, exploring the places that influenced and inspired her.
More ways to get involved
For those looking to develop events or who would like to mark the centenary in some way – from exhibitions to readings, talks to screenings – contact Muriel Spark 100 Project Coordinator Sabrina Leruste at [email protected] who can offer advice on promoting events as part of the Muriel Spark 100 programme and making connections with relevant counterparts.
Events to attend this month:
Muriel Spark – A Centenary Celebration at Writer’s Museum
Writer’s Museum, 2 February Onwards
Mistress of Unease: The Poetry of Muriel Spark
Scottish National Gallery, 7 February 2018, 12.45-1pm
Alan Taylor in conversation with Candia McWilliam on Spark
National Library of Scotland, 20 February 2018 6 – 7pm
Edinburgh Villanelle: A Celebration of Muriel Spark with Elaine Feinstein and Alan Taylor
Scottish Poetry Library, 22 February 2018 – 7pm
Easy Morning Poems: Muriel Spark
Scottish Poetry Library, 24 February 2018 – 11am – 12.30pm