Dame Muriel Spark was born 99 years ago today in Edinburgh, in the now modern area of Bruntsfield. 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 been awarded 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 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 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 unique Muriel Spark Archive, or even walk past James Gillespie’s School for Girls, where Spark studied as a child. In the Makars’ Court at the Lawnmarket, right beside the Writers’ Museum, there is a flagstone commemorating her life and work.