Blog Roll

Anecdotal Evidence
Biology of the Worst Kind
The Book Depository Editor's Corner
Book World
Buzzwords Blog: 3AM Magazine
Edward Champion's Return of the Reluctant
The Elegant Variation
John Baker's Blog
KR Blog
the Literary Saloon
Long Sunday
MadInkBeard - Updates
The Midnight Bell
pas au-delà
The Reading Experience
splinters: books, authors, literature, travel, politics
Tales from the Reading Room
This Space
University of Nebraska Press
Weblog - A Don's Life - Times Online
Weblog - Peter Stothard - Times Online
Powered by Bloglines


One of the Guardian Unlimited Books' top 10 literary blogs: "A home-grown treasure ... smart, serious analysis"

The Bookaholics' Guide to Book Blogs: "Mark Thwaite ... has a maverick, independent mind"

Saturday 15 April 2006

Muriel Spark RIP

Sad news: Muriel Spark has died, on Thursday, aged 88, in the small Tuscan town of Civitella in Val di Chiana where she had lived for the last 27 years. Probably still best known for 1961's The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Spark wrote 24 novels, short stories and some fine poems. Born Muriel Sarah Camberg, in February 1918, in Edinburgh, to a Jewish father and Anglican mother, her last novel, The Finishing School, was published in 2004; in the same year Carcanet published All the Poems.

According to a Houston Chronicle report: "Spark had quirky writing habits. She wrote longhand, with little if any revision, in spiral-bound notebooks she got from a stationer in Edinburgh. She never used a pen anyone else had touched."

The film of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, starring Maggie Smith, and bringing her a best actress Oscar in 1969, seems to have masked just what an experimental and fine writer Spark actually was. Her short books are acid sharp and whole, like the very best short stories.

Some Spark links (thanks Jenny): Guardian profile from 2000; Muriel Spark Archive at the National Library of Scotland; Spark in conversation; Contemporary Writers Spark page (includes decent bibliography and critical overview); James Wood review of The Finishing School.

Posted by Mark Thwaite

Reader Comments

Add a comment

If you have not posted a comment on RSB before, it will need to be approved by the Managing Editor. Once you have an approved comment, you are safe to post further comments. We have also introduced a captcha code to prevent spam.




Enter the code shown here:  

Note: If you cannot read the numbers in the above image, reload the page to generate a new one.

Submit News to RSB

Please let us know about any literary-related news -- or submit press releases to RSB -- using this form.

-- Mark Thwaite, Managing Editor


Memorial Tablet

Squire nagged and bullied till I went to fight,
(Under Lord Derby’s Scheme). I died in hell—
(They called it Passchendaele). My wound was slight,
And I was hobbling back; and then a shell
Burst slick upon the duck-boards: so I fell
Into the bottomless mud, and lost the light.

At sermon-time, while Squire is in his pew,
He gives my gilded name a thoughtful stare:
For, though low down upon the list, I’m there;
‘In proud and glorious memory’... that’s my due.
Two bleeding years I fought in France, for Squire:
I suffered anguish that he’s never guessed.
Once I came home on leave: and then went west...
What greater glory could a man desire?

-- Siegfried Sassoon
Collected Poems (Faber and Faber)

-- View archive

Word of the Day

The Dord, the Diglot, and an Avocado or two

Pre-order Anu Garg's new book: The Dord, the Diglot, and an Avocado or Two: The Hidden Lives and Strange Origins of Common and Not-So-Common Words (ISBN 9780452288614), published by Penguin more …

-- Powered by

October's Books of the Month

The New Spirit of Capitalism The New Spirit of Capitalism
Luc Boltanski; Eve Chiapello
Horizons Touched: The Music of ECM Horizons Touched: The Music of ECM
Steve Lake, Paul Griffiths

-- View archive