The great Scottish author Dame Muriel Spark would have been 100 years old on the 1st February this year. She was born in Edinburgh in 1918, married young and lived in Zimbabwe, moving back to London after the war. In 1963 she moved to New York and in 1967 to Rome, she died at the age of 88 at her home in Florence. Her books which are full of wit and wisdom, appeal equally to both men and women, and have never dated because her style is so fresh and modern.
If you’re not familiar with Spark’s work you may be wondering where to start. William Boyd (a self confessed super fan) advised listeners of BBC Radio 4’s Book Club to start with what are in his mind her best works, “The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie” (US – UK), “The Girls of Slender Means,” (US – UK) “Loitering with Intent,” (US – UK) and “A Far Cry From Kensington.” (US – UK) He stated that these books all set in London and Edinburgh are “autobiographical” and the best introduction to her work.
In the same programme, Editor and writer of a recent memoir of Muriel Spark ‘Appointment in Arezzo: A Friendship with Muriel Spark’ (US – UK) Alan Taylor, recommended starting “with The Comforters, start where she started and then take them slowly, like a good brandy, don’t glut”
Whichever way you decide to read them, or if you’re already a Spark fan, it’s great news that to celebrate this centenary Polygon are reprinting all 22 of her novels. These stylish collectable editions will have a series preface by editor Alan Taylor and an introduction by writers or critics such as William Boyd, Alexander McCall Smith and Ali Smith. The first five have already been published and the next four, including “The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie” will be published on the anniversary with the remainder coming during the course of the year.
If you want to read more about Muriel Spark or about the events being organised to celebrate her Centenary head over to murielspark100.com.
The group is attempting to “stop President Trump from using the machinery of government to retaliate or threaten reprisals against journalists and media outlets for coverage he dislikes”. The First Amendment of the US constitution protects freedom of speech and PEN aren’t the only group to voice concerns about how Trump has attempted to shut down journalism.
Schott stated that when the news was announced that the Dean of Westminster had given permission for a memorial to Wodehouse in the abbey, “there was a ripple of joy that it was happening, but also puzzlement that it hadn’t happened before.”
Postman Pat has been a part of many British children’s lives since 1981 when the first story was published. Cunliffe took inspiration from the Lake District when creating Postman Pat’s home- the fictional village of Greendale- with its rolling hills and dales, and small farms and villages.
Pat, and his feline friend Jess, drive about the village delivering letters, working through problems, and getting into the occasional scrape. The stories were commissioned by the BBC to produce a series of animations, which proved popular for over 40 years!
This volume celebrates forty five famous writers including Mark Twain, Haruki Murakami, and Ursula K. Le Guin, who have shared their home and writing space with a feline friend. There are photographs and stories all exploring that special bond between wordsmith and mouser.
Here’s a taster: