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Muriel Spark

Muriel Spark

The long-awaited biography of one of the great writers of the twentieth century – ‘a wonderful blend of scholarly fact and juicy storytelling’ (Mail on Sunday).

Muriel Spark ended was one of the great writers of the twentieth century. Hers is a Cinderella story, the first thirty-nine years of which she presented in her autobiography, Curriculum Vitae (1992), politely blurring the intensity of her darker moments: her relations with her brother, mother, son, husband; a terrifying period of hallucinations and subsequent depression; and the disastrously misplaced love she had felt for two men she had wanted to marry, Howard Sergeant and Derek Stanford.

Aged nineteen, Spark left Scotland to marry in Southern Rhodesia, escaping back to Britain on a troopship in 1944 after her divorce. Her son returned in 1945 to be brought up by her parents in Edinburgh while she established herself as a poet and critic in London. After becoming a Roman Catholic in 1954, she began a novel, The Comforters, and with Memento Mori, The Ballad of Peckham Rye and The Bachelors rose rapidly into the literary stratosphere.

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1961), with its adaptation into a successful stage-play and film, marked her full translation into international celebrity and from that point she went to live first in New York, then Rome, and finally Tuscany where for over thirty years, until her death in 2006, she shared a house with her companion, the artist Penelope Jardine.
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Genre: Biography & True Stories / Biography: General / Biography: Literary

On Sale: 13th August 2009

Price: £12.99

ISBN-13: 9780297857785

Reviews

Martin Stannard's biography will become the standard work on one of Britain's finest postwar writers
Observer
Stannard has got under Spark's skin about as deeply as anyone could
Alastair Mabbott, Herald
Gripping; a rich, complex, quagmire of a book, Muriel Spark is worth the wait, witty, readable and well researched - about as satisfying as a literary biography can be
Frances Wilson, Daily Telegraph
Stannard's triumph is to have produced an account that survived her scrutiny yet reveals her vanity and egotism so unmistakably
Sunday Times
Stannard is particularly strong on Spark as a novelist and on the intrigues of the American and British and publishing worlds
Irish Times
Stannard had unfettered access to Spark's archives and proves an adept biographer of the sparky and troubled author
The Times
An exhaustive and fascinating story
Evening Standard
Spark invited the author to write her biography. In his hands scholasticism and sauce prove a fascinating, compelling mix
Huddersfield Daily Examiner
This fine life explains why Muriel Spark numbers among the crème de la crème of modern novelists ... [With its] many fine vignettes ... this is a biography that has been worth the long wait
Sunday Telegraph
Precise and perceptive ... a pioneering biography
The Times
A lively, engrossing and detailed tome
Sunday Telegraph