Saturday, December 16, 2017

Celebrating the Centenary

There are so many events, talks and programmes coming up in 2018!  If you haven't yet visited the exhibition at the National Library please go!  One visit is actually not enough.  Congratulations to our member Dr Colin McIlroy and his team for a splendid exhibition.

Here are some of the other events coming your way in early 2018.

Radio 4 'The Vital Spark'.  Look out for programmes bearing this overall title.  The first of these is  on January 1st,  at 9.45 am, a 5 part serialisation of Alan Taylor's Appointment in Arezzo.
On January 5th at 2.15 the afternoon drama Intelligence is based on Spark's time employed in MI6.

Radio 3 'All Miss Brodie's Girls?' 29 January - 2 February 22.45-23.00  Each night a leading Scottish writer (Ali Smith, Val McDermid, Janice Galloway, Kate Clanchy, Louise Welsh) reflects on a different aspect of Muriel Spark.

Other events include (see other posts for the  Usher Hall event, the Symposium at Glasgow University and our Birthday Lunch):

2 Feb - 10 June 'A Centenary Celebration at the Writers' Museum, Edinburgh'  I hope they point out our commemorative flagstone in the courtyard there.

7 Feb 'Mistress of Unease'  Stewart Conn discusses the poetry of Muriel Spark with Gerda Stevenson reading the poems at the Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh

Alan Taylor is talking about Spark in various venues: 25 January in AK Bell Library, Perth; 1 February at Central Library, Edinburgh; 4 February 20 High Street, Linlithgow

More events are of course planned but not made official yet.  The blog will keep you up to date.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The International Style of Muriel Spark

This unmissable exhibition at the National Library of Scotland, George IV Bridge, Edinburgh, is now open until May 2018.  Curated by Colin McIlroy and his team, Muriel Spark's life from Edinburgh to Tuscany is beautifully depicted through her journals, her dresses, photographs and letters.  Congratulations to Colin (one of our members) for doing justice to Dame Muriel.

Monday, November 27, 2017

The Muriel Spark Centenary Symposium 2018

This event, which takes place at the University of Glasgow, promises to be one of the highlights of the Centenary.

The Symposium is organised by Helen Stoddart and Professor Gerard Carruthers of the University of Glasgow and members of staff of the National Library of Scotland, led by Colin McIlroy.

It runs for two days, February 1st (the date of Muriel Spark's birth) and February 2nd.  On January 31st there will be a reception and a screening of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie.

It is now open for registration for all those interested.

For further details:  Click here

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Society ticket offer for Usher Hall event - 31 January 2018 - all tickets have now gone

The Edinburgh International Book Festival is holding a Spark event at the Usher Hall on 31 January 2018 - Creme de la Creme.  For details - Click here .

Believing that the Society should enjoy exclusive benefits to this event, one of our members has bought ten tickets.

These are all on offer to Society members only and are complimentary.

If any member would like one of these tickets, please contact Gail by email or telephone.

(Gail did ask the EIBF if they would consider including the Society in their discounted ticket deal but their offer was exclusive to their own Patrons and Friends.)

Friday, November 24, 2017

Spark event at the Usher Hall

Usher Hall event Creme de la Creme - Click here
The Muriel Spark Society, through its members, has been a key contributer to the support given to Birlinn/Polygon for the lovely new issues of the novels.  The Society thanks the publishers for accrediting this support in each edition.

The Bottle Imp

Professor Willy Maley of Glasgow University, proud owner of a Muriel Spark Society t-shirt, has sent this link to be shared with members;
Click here

The University of Glasgow is holding a two day 'Muriel Spark Centenary Symposium ' on Thursday 1 and Friday 2 February 2018.  (A screening of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie is scheduled for the 31st January)
Look out for more details which will be published on this blog when information is finalised.
Our Annual Lecturer Ali Smith will be there.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Spark and Time - with Ali Smith

The Muriel Spark Society Annual Lecture 2017

Ali Smith and Gail Wylie at the 2017 Lecture 
on November 14th
at the National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh.

Appointment in Arezzo by Alan Taylor review – the truth about Muriel Spark

The Guardian review - click here .

Annual Lecture 2017 and 2018

Ali Smith delighted her audience on Tuesday 14 November with an outstanding lecture which must make us all want to read or re read everything Spark wrote.  Thanks so much Ali - we hope to welcome you again.

Professor Allan Riach of the University of Glasgow will give the 2018 Lecture on her work as a poet.

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Members' Visit to Umbria 2018

The visit to Umbria will take place 19-25 March 2018, through 'Learn Italy'.

We will be staying in Citta di Castello and visiting the paintings of Muriel Spark's favourite artist, Piero della Francesca in nearby towns, including Urbino. 

If anyone is interested in joining this trip, please contact Gail. 

Annual Lecture 2017

Tuesday 14th November will be the Society's 16th Annual Lecture and will be given this year by Ali Smith.

All tickets have been taken for this event but interest is still high - so please, if you have a ticket but can no longer attend, would you let the NLS know?

Alan Taylor's 'Appointment in Arezzo'

Alan Taylor's lively and engaging memoir of his friendship with Muriel Spark is to be launched on Thursday 9th November, 6.30 pm at the Saltire Society, Fountain Court, Edinburgh to which all members of the Society are invited.

Alan, a former Chair of the Society,  has generously included the following acknowledgement:

'Thanks, too, are due to the members of the small but perfectly formed Muriel Spark Society, which exists to keep the Spark flame alive.  I recommend joining it to anyone who has an interest in Muriel and her oeuvre.  May it go on its way rejoicing.'

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Makars’ Court 2008

The first permanent memorial to Dame Muriel is in Makars’ Court in Edinburgh
- thanks to the members of the Muriel Spark Society.
The stone was laid in 2008 for Dame Muriel's 90th.
See The Scotsman for further details.
Some photos and a video from the event below:

Makars' Court

Eric Dickson, Gail Wylie, Alan Taylor and Lorna Statham from the Muriel Spark Society 
and Deirdre Brock from The City of Edinburgh Council

For the Society blog of 31 May 2008 click here .

Video courtesy of Sean Groat at

Gail Wylie on the centenary

The Society is delighted to be a supporter of the centenary celebrations including the new publication of all Dame Muriel's novels by Polygon. 
See the Muriel Spark Centenary Editions at

For Gail Wylie’s centenary interview for Creative Scotland

Monday, September 18, 2017

Polygon publishes all the novels

Polygon are publishing all 22 novels over the next year. Edited by Alan Taylor, they each have an introduction by leading writers (including past Annual Lecturers such as Candia McWilliam and Ronald Frame). Each cover is a different colour; the back carries a photograph of Muriel at the age of writing that particular novel; on the cover a quotation from the text and a typewriter keyboard show the order in which the novels were originally published.  This stunning collection is a fitting testament to Spark in her Centenary year.
The Muriel Spark Society was able to help support this initiative through the generosity of its members and we will be acknowledged in each edition.
Visit Polygon's website ( or CLICK HERE to find out more.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Annual Lecture 2017: Ali Smith

The Society is delighted to welcome  Ali Smith as our lecturer on November 14 at 6 pm at the National Library of Scotland, George IV Bridge, Edinburgh.  The subject of her lecture will be Spark and Time.

This event is free but booking a ticket is essential.  Visit or telephone 0131 623 3734.

(Members contact Eric as there are some places reserved for members of the Society)

This lecture marks the first public event celebrating Muriel Spark's Centenary in 2018.  Further details of all events, exhibitions, publications and much more will be posted here and on the Muriel Spark 100 website.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Successful Lyon and Turnbull sale

The sale of books and a table from the estate of Robin Spark attracted great interest.  In particular, a first edition of 'The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie', inscribed by Dame Muriel to her son "To Robin, Love and wonkies, Mummy xxx" fetched £21,250 - 42 times its estimate.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Edinburgh International Children's Festival

If any members are interested in helping out at the following Festival, please follow the link.  I'm posting this message on behalf of its organisers who are led by Pamela Walker, previously with the National Theatre of Scotland. 
Volunteering at the Festival
We are looking for enthusiastic and committed volunteers to join the 2017 Festival team during the week of 27 May – 4 June.
Volunteers play an integral part in making the Festival happen each year and we welcome volunteers from all walks of life. Our Volunteers are the public face of the Festival; helping our school, family and delegate audiences at each venue, staffing industry and guest events, and supporting the Festival team behind the scenes throughout the week.
In return for your time and commitment you'll be able to see Festival performances, attend social events, and take part in a hugely exciting, creative and rewarding week.
If you are interested, please apply by forwarding a covering letter and your CV to

0131 225 8050 •
30B Grindlay Street, Edinburgh, EH3 9AX­­

Edinburgh International Children's Festival 27 May – 4 June 2017

Imaginate is a company limited by guarantee registered at the above address.
Company No. SC115855 • Charity No. SC016437 • VAT No. 553 3970 29
Promoting and developing theatre and dance for children and young people in Scotland

Sunday, February 05, 2017

Annual November Lecture

On the 14th of November at 6 pm the annual lecture at the National Library of Scotland will be given this year by the innovative and acclaimed novelist Ali Smith.
20 seats are reserved for members of the Society.  This lecture is limited to 100 people and is free, but a reserved ticket is essential.
Further details of booking a seat will be made available nearer the time.

AGM June 14th 2017

This year the AGM will be held on June 14th at 7 pm at the Saltire Society, High Street, Edinburgh.
After business, we will be given a short talk by Professor Alan Riach, Professor of Scottish Literature at the University of Glasgow.
We will then proceed to a nearby restaurant for dinner. If you are interested in coming to the dinner please let our Treasurer know by May 31st.

Visit to the Court of the Lord Lyon

Miss Jean Brodie famously told her set, 'If I were to receive a proposal of marriage from the Lord Lyon King of Arms I would decline it.'  The Society is visiting this famous Court on Thursday 23rd of March at 2 pm.  They can accommodate 15 of us, so please put your name down soon.  Email for a place. We will meet at the gate of New Register House just before 2 pm. (If you stand at the front door of the Balmoral Hotel and look straight ahead, it's the building ahead of you at the top of the lane.)