Wednesday, May 19, 2021
Ali Smith recently chose Fleur Talbot from Loitering with Intent as her favourite literary heroine. A wonderful choice and she also qouted Fleur's unforgettable credo, "Everything happens to an artist, time is always redeemed, nothing is lost and wonders never cease" Defoe's Moll Flanders comes a very disreputable second choice.Check out the Guardian online from 1 May.
Muriel Spark has never been short of prominent admirers, and here is another for that distinguished list: Richard Osman. The Pointless host and best selling author chose Dame Muriel in the book section of his list of cultural highlights in last Saturday's Guardian. Now, I wonder if he's free to speak to the Society ...
Wednesday, April 14, 2021
2021 marks the 60th anniversary of the publication of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie in 1961. I am delighted to announce the Muriel Spark Society will be marking the event with a lecture hosted by the National Library of Scotland on October 5. Presently we are planning an online event at 5pm, but who knows, perhaps we may all be able to meet? Our speaker will be Norma Allan, who recnetly published a history of her alma mater, James Gillespie's High School in Edinburgh. Her book, "Box Hats and Blue Stockings" was published in 2019. I will post more details as they are firmed up.
Dr James Bailey has kindly been in touch to announce his reent book on Dame Muriel's fiction,published at the end of last month by Edinburgh University Press. Here is the information from his publisher: A compelling reappraisal of Spark’s approach to literary experimentation Offers a distinctive reappraisal of Spark’s fiction, which challenges the rigid critical framework that has long been applied to her writing Interrogates how Spark’s literary innovations work to facilitate moments of subversive satire and gendered social critique Presents nuanced re-readings of some of Spark’s major works, as well as lesser-discussed texts such as her only stage play, Doctors of Philosophy, and early short stories Draws upon detailed archival research to offer a unique insight into the social contexts and personal preoccupations that informed Spark’s writing This book presents a detailed critical analysis of a period of significant formal and thematic innovation in Muriel Spark’s literary career. Spanning the mid-1950s to the mid-1970s, it identifies formative instances of literary experimentation in texts including The Comforters, The Driver’s Seat and The Public Image, with an emphasis on metafiction and the influence of the nouveau roman. As the first critical study to draw extensively on Spark’s vast archives of correspondence, manuscripts and research, it provides a unique insight into the social contexts and personal concerns that dictated her fiction. I have invited Dr Bailey to speak to the Society, and will post details when we can arrange a date.
Tuesday, February 09, 2021
Saturday, February 06, 2021
Thursday, December 17, 2020
Ian Rankin's archive will open to the public at the National Library of Scotland this week, and this includes access to his unfinished PhD on Muriel Spark. There is an online event hosted by NLS this evening, with Curator Rosemary Hall. Please make an appointment if you wish to view the archive. Here is some of the publicity article: The National Library of Scotland has revealed that nearly 400 files of manuscripts, notes and letters kept by the best-selling writer will be available to inspect from Friday. However followers of Rankin and Rebus will have to pre-book their visit to a “reading room” at its headquarters in Edinburgh. Highlights include early manuscripts for first Rebus novel Knots and Crosses, correspondence with leading literary figures like J K Rowling, Iain Banks, Ruth Rendell, Val McDermid and Jilly Cooper, letters from police officers who offered to help Rankin with his research, and his unfinished PhD on the author Muriel Spark.
Friday, November 27, 2020
A video clip showing late author Muriel Spark explaining her uncomplicated writing process has gone viral on social media. Bruntsfield-born Spark shot to fame in 1957 with the publication of her first novel, The Comforters, but is best-known for The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1961), set in Edinburgh. In the video, Ms Spark sits at her writing desk and tells an off-screen interviewer: “I begin at the beginning. I write the title then I write my name. “Then I turn over and I write the title of the book, I write ‘Chapter One’ and then I write on.” Ms Spark, who died in 2006 in Florence, Tuscany, continued: “I leave a space so I can make alterations as I go along but I don’t revise it afterwards. “Then it goes to the typist and she types it and I revise that. “And that’s the book. That’s finished.” The clip has garnered more than 10,000 views on Twitter alone. Ian Rankin, who has cited Ms Sparks as his literary heroine, was asked by one social media user whether he took inspiration from her no-nonsense writing process. The Fife-born Rebus author, who lives in Edinburgh, replied: “I do a few more drafts than Muriel though!” Dean Atta, Scottish author of The Black Flamingo (2019) joked: “Why do I need an editor and a copyeditor if it’s this easy? Who knew, all I needed was a typist!” Writer and journalist Esther Webber described the clip as: “the Bake-Off technical challenge equivalent of writing advice.”
Thursday, November 19, 2020
NICOLA Sturgeon has presented a tour of her jam-packed bookshelves to mark this year’s Book Week Scotland, showing off her favourite reads and offering a glimpse into the collection she has been developing for “as long as I can remember”. The keen reader said she “now shares a house with books rather than the other way round”, with overspill in different rooms in her home. The First Minister showed off her copy of A Scots Quair which was a school prize. The SNP leader showed off some of her other favourites, including picks by Val McDermid, Ian Rankin, Ali Smith and Muriel Spark. Sturgeon showed viewers “one of my most prized possessions” – a signed first-edition copy of Spark’s The Girls of Slender Means. Please go to "The National" for 17th November for the full article, plus film of the First Minister's Library.