Spark, Dame Muriel


Spark, Dame Muriel
▪ 2007
Muriel Sarah Camberg  British writer (b. Feb. 1, 1918, Edinburgh, Scot.—d. April 13, 2006, Florence, Italy), was admired for the satire and wit with which she presented the serious themes of her novels and for her ability to create disturbing, compelling characters and a disquieting sense of moral ambiguity. Her best-known novel, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1961), centred on an eccentric, domineering teacher at a girls' school; it gained great success in its stage (1966) and film (1969) versions. She was educated in Edinburgh and spent several years (1937–44) with her husband in southern Africa, which served as the setting for her first volume of short stories, The Go-Away Bird and Other Stories (1958). In 1944 she left her husband to return to the U.K., where she wrote wartime propaganda for the British foreign office. She then served (1947–49) as general secretary of the Poetry Society and editor of The Poetry Review. Spark published a series of critical biographies of literary figures and editions of 19th-century letters, including Child of Light: A Reassessment of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (1951; rev. ed., Mary Shelley, 1987), John Masefield (1953), and The Brontë Letters (1954). Spark's conversion to Roman Catholicism in 1954 pervaded much of her later writings. With the publication of her first novel, The Comforters (1957), her talent as a novelist was immediately evident. Her third novel, Memento Mori (1959), was adapted for the stage in 1964 and for television in 1992. The Mandelbaum Gate (1965) marked a departure from the humorous and slightly unsettling fantasy that characterized her earlier novels—notably Memento Mori, The Ballad of Peckham Rye (1960), and The Girls of Slender Means (1963; filmed for television 1975)—toward weightier themes. The Driver's Seat (1970; filmed 1974), Not to Disturb (1971), and The Abbess of Crewe (1974; filmed as Nasty Habits, 1977) had a distinctly sinister tone. Among Spark's later novels were Territorial Rights (1979), A Far Cry from Kensington (1988), Reality and Dreams (1996), and The Finishing School (2004). Other works included Collected Poems I (1967), Collected Stories I (1967), and an autobiography, Curriculum Vitae (1992). Spark was made DBE in 1993.

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▪ British writer
in full  Muriel Sarah Spark , née  Camberg 
born Feb. 1, 1918, Edinburgh, Scot.
died April 13, 2006, Florence, Italy
 British writer best known for the satire and wit with which the serious themes of her novels are presented.

      Spark was educated in Edinburgh and later spent some years in Central Africa; the latter served as the setting for her first volume of short stories, The Go-Away Bird and Other Stories (1958). She returned to Great Britain during World War II and worked for the Foreign Office, writing propaganda. She then served as general secretary of the Poetry Society and editor of The Poetry Review (1947–49). She later published a series of critical biographies of literary figures and editions of 19th-century letters, including Child of Light: A Reassessment of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (1951; rev. ed., Mary Shelley, 1987), John Masefield (1953), and The Brontë Letters (1954). Spark converted to Roman Catholicism in 1954.

      Until 1957 Spark published only criticism and poetry. With the publication of The Comforters (1957), however, her talent as a novelist—an ability to create disturbing, compelling characters and a disquieting sense of moral ambiguity—was immediately evident. Her third novel, Memento Mori (1959), was adapted for the stage in 1964 and for television in 1992. Her best-known novel is probably The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1961), which centres on a domineering teacher at a girls' school. It also became popular in its stage (1966) and film (1969) versions.

      Some critics found Spark's earlier novels minor; some of these works—such as The Comforters, Memento Mori, The Ballad of Peckham Rye (1960), and The Girls of Slender Means (1963)—are characterized by humorous and slightly unsettling fantasy. The Mandelbaum Gate (1965) marked a departure toward weightier themes, and the novels that followed—The Driver's Seat (1970, film 1974), Not to Disturb (1971), and The Abbess of Crewe (1974)—have a distinctly sinister tone. Among Spark's later novels are Territorial Rights (1979), A Far Cry from Kensington (1988), Reality and Dreams (1996), and The Finishing School (2004). Other works include Collected Poems I (1967) and Collected Stories (1967). Curriculum Vitae (1992) is an autobiography. Spark was made Dame Commander of the British Empire in 1993.

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Spark,Dame Muriel Sarah — Spark (spärk), Dame Muriel Sarah. Born 1918. Scottish writer known for her satirical novels, including Memento Mori (1958) and The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1961). * * * …   Universalium

  • Dame Muriel Spark — noun Scottish writer of satirical novels (born in 1918) • Syn: ↑Spark, ↑Muriel Spark, ↑Muriel Sarah Spark • Instance Hypernyms: ↑writer, ↑author …   Useful english dictionary

  • Spark — [spärk] Dame Muriel (Sarah) (born Muriel Sarah Camberg) 1918 ; Brit. writer …   English World dictionary

  • Muriel Spark — noun Scottish writer of satirical novels (born in 1918) • Syn: ↑Spark, ↑Dame Muriel Spark, ↑Muriel Sarah Spark • Instance Hypernyms: ↑writer, ↑author * * * Muriel …   Useful english dictionary

  • Muriel Sarah Spark — noun Scottish writer of satirical novels (born in 1918) • Syn: ↑Spark, ↑Muriel Spark, ↑Dame Muriel Spark • Instance Hypernyms: ↑writer, ↑author …   Useful english dictionary

  • Muriel Spark — Born Muriel Sarah Camberg 1 February 1918(1918 02 01) Edinburgh, Scotland Died 13 April 2006(2006 04 13) (aged 88) Florence, Tuscany, Italy Occupation novelist, short story …   Wikipedia

  • Muriel Spark — Dame Muriel Spark, DBE (* 1. Februar 1918 in Edinburgh; † 13. April 2006 in Florenz; gebürtig Muriel Sarah Camberg) war eine britische Schriftstellerin. Inhaltsverzeichnis 1 Leben 2 Auszeichnungen und Ehrungen …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Muriel Spark — Dame Muriel Spark (1er février 1918–13 avril 2006), est une romancière britannique. Biographie Née Muriel Sarah Camberg à Édimbourg, Écosse, de père juif et de mère anglicane, elle fait ses études à la James Gillespie s High School for Girls …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Spark — /spak/ (say spahk) noun Dame Muriel Sarah, 1918–2006, Scottish novelist, author of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1961) …   Australian English dictionary

  • Spark, Muriel — (1918 2006)    Born Muriel Sarah Camberg in Edinburgh to a Jewish Lithuanian father and an English Protestant mother, she was educated at the Edinburgh James Gillespie s School for Girls. It was possibly this experience that inspired her novel… …   British and Irish poets