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.
A television series was produced in the 70s and 80s and was loosely based on Ingalls’ books- it starred Melissa Gilbert as Laura and Michael Landon as her father, Charles. She is still celebrated today all across the USA, with museums and honouring her, and her name marking her previous homesteads throughout the country.
A keen writer as a child, Ruskin graduated in 1950 after winning several writing competitions in school including the Irwin Divinity Prize and the Hailey Literature Prize. He wrote one of his first short stories Untouchable when he was just 16 years old.
Recently King has offered one of his short stories for free online. The story is Laurie and follows a man and his journey through the late stages of grief and a beautiful gift his sister gives him to help him through his pain. In typical King style it is richly written, with a story that sucks you straight in (no spoilers).
Follow the link below to read the free short story for yourself.
Born Thomas Kennerly Wolfe Jr. on 2nd March 1930 in Richmond Virginia, Tom Wolfe showed his love for writing early, as editor of the school newspaper. After graduating in 1947, Wolfe turned down an offer for Princeton University and instead attented Washington and Lee University where he was a member of the Phi Kappa Sigma fraternity. During his time at university he majored in English, was sports editor of the university newspaper and helped to found a literary magazine, Shenandoah giving him plenty of opportunity to practice his writing and journalistic skills. Read More