Next year on 1st February will be the centenary of novelist Muriel Spark’s birth. The papers are beginning to build up publicity for the event. Last week The National (Scotland) and The Times both ran articles mentioning the centenary. Both articles also mention the support given Spark’s early work by Evelyn Waugh and Graham Greene. Perhaps it is not a coincidence that she, like them, was a convert to Roman Catholicism. They each wrote positive reviews of Spark’s first novel The Comforters (1957) which was published when she was 39. Waugh’s review was in the Spectator and is collected in his Essays, Articles and Reviews. Waugh later reviewed her novels Voices at Play (1961), also in the Spectator, and The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1962) in Cosmopolitan. Miss Brodie was probably her most popular work and was made into both a film and TV series.
A Scottish publishing company Polygon has announced the republication of all her novels in a special centenary edition with introductions by leading writers such as William Boyd, Alexander McCall Smith, and Alan Massie. The first batch of four will be issued next month. A memoir by writer and critic Alan Taylor entitled Appointment in Arezzo has also been published. BBC Four and BBC Scotland will produce a TV documentary, and a series on BBC Radio 3 will feature fellow authors remembering her career. There will be a three-day centenary symposium convened at the University of Glasgow from 31 January-2 February 2018. Details are available here. An exhibition on the theme “The International Style of Muriel Spark” opens at the National Library of Scotland on 8 December and continues through 13 May 2018. It should be noted that her official biography was written by Martin Stannard who also wrote the two-volume biography of Evelyn Waugh, the most comprehensive to date, and is co-editor of his Complete Works.