Dame Muriel Spark

(Muriel Sarah Camberg)

1918 - 2006

Novelist. Born Muriel Sarah Camberg in the Morningside district of SW Edinburgh, Spark was the daughter of an engineer. She was educated at James Gillespie's School for Girls and Heriot-Watt College. She worked in Africa where she impulsively married, but her husband became violent and within two years the marriage had ended, shortly after the birth of a son. She returned to London in 1944, where she obtained a post with the Political Intelligence Department of the Foreign Office, turning her talents to the creation of bogus news reports. After the war she joined the Poetry Society as the editor of Poetry Review (1947-9). Her conversion to Roman Catholicism had inspired her writing and he went on to become a full-time author, moving between New York and Tuscany (Italy). Her best known work is "The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie" (1961) which is a portrait of a highly unconventional teacher at an Edinburgh Girl's School. The model for this character was one of her own teachers, Christina Kay, who had encouraged Spark to write. Other works include "The Comforters" (1957), "The Bachelors" (1960) and "The Ballad of Peckham Rye" (1960). She received several prizes for her work and was also awarded an OBE (1967), a CBE (1993), together with honorary degrees from the Universities of Strathclyde (1971), Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Heriot-Watt and St. Andrews.

Her autobiography, Curriculum Vitae, was published in 1992 and she was listed as one of Scotland's most powerful women in 2004. Spark died in Tuscany and was buried in the churchyard in the village of Civitella della Chiana, where she had lived for 27 years.

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