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.
To celebrate their five-year anniversary, a Canadian publisher, Bedside press, are reprinting the original novel with a new cover by Sami Kivelä, finally bringing this work back from its long out-of-print stint. Read More
Jazmin Truesdale has been a proud nerd all her life, loving comic books, science fiction, and action movies, but always looking for some positive representation within those entertainment spheres. As one may imagine the worlds of graphic novels and comic books are very straight-white-male-centric, with shallow female characters. and few depictions of non-white women.
Jazmin, with her entrepreneurial mind and passion for cultural diversity, began creating characters she would want to read about and, with the help from an illustrator, her universe was born. It has not been an easy journey- finding an illustrator who knew how to draw Black women’s bodies was one particular hurdle to overcome, however Jazmin’s drive and focus ensured her goal became a reality.
The author, who has sold more than 70 million books during her career claims that her husband, Lawrence Kenyon was lacing her food with poison from 2014 until they split last year. She says the poison left her with clumps of hair falling out, crumbling teeth, tremors and back pain, all unexplained by doctors until tests showed unusually high levels of lithium in her blood.
She claims her husband was helped by his assistant Kerrie Ann Plump and her IT specialist Paco Cavanaugh to carry on the scheme and says that her husband laced her food while Cavanaugh siphoned hundreds of thousands off her bank accounts.
Born Susan Rosenblatt in New York City to Jewish parents of Lithuanian and Polish descent. When Susan was five years old her father died and several years later her mother married a US Army Captain, Nathan Sontag, giving Susan the name we remember her by. Despite being raised by Jewish parents, Sontag stated that she did not have a religious upbringing and was in her 20s before she entered a synagogue.
Before he created the writer-persona of Dr Seuss, Geisel was an artist of another kind. In his spare time he created sculptures of interesting and strange creatures, using parts of real animals. Of course it is not as grotesque as it sounds- the animal parts were given to Theodor after the animals died of natural causes. His father was the superintendent of parks in Massachusetts at the time when a young Geisel was working as a fledgling author and illustrator. When zoo and park animals crossed the rainbow bridge, Geisel’s father sent him the various animals’ parts to help him create some whacky characters.
Horns, antlers, beaks, and all sorts were used by Geisel to build some of the most fantastical animals that, unsurprisingly, look like they have jumped straight out of a Dr Seuss picture book.