Monday, March 05, 2018

Two Dames

I was struck recently by certain similarities between Muriel Spark and Daphne du Maurier.  They may have very different narrative styles but they also have a surprising amount in common.  I wrote the following short piece, sent it to the Daphne du Maurier Society, and am delighted with their response.

The piece, titled 'Two Dames' now appears on the Daphne du Maurier website.
Click HERE for details

Gail Wylie

Thursday, February 08, 2018

The Guardian view on Muriel Spark

An excellent editorial from The Guardian

Pitlochry Winter Words

Alan Taylor, Rosemary Goring, Zoe Strachan and Louise Welch will all be discussing Muriel Spark in two different events at Pitlochry Theatre next week and next weekend.

Memento Mori is The Guardian's Reading Group choice

Join in the discussion! 

Modern Scottish Literary Manuscripts conference

This will be an excellent day in the company of a variety of  Spark experts and enthusiasts.  (In the lunch break take a short walk to the Writers' Museum to see their Spark exhibition too and the memorial stone laid outside.)
The Association for Manuscripts and Archives in Research Collections (AMARC; is organising a one-day meeting on Modern Scottish Literary Manuscripts at the National Library of Scotland on Thursday 19th April 2018.  In addition to various other talks, Dr Colin McIlroy of the NLS will be speaking on the subject of the Muriel Spark archive and will lead a guided tour of the Muriel Spark exhibition.  The registration fee includes morning and afternoon tea and coffee, as well as lunch.  The event is open to non-members (though anyone can join AMARC and we would be delighted to welcome new members).

Saturday, February 03, 2018

Our next event 'Addressing Spark'

The Muriel Spark Society's main event of the year is our reception, talk and small exhibition on June 19th, generously hosted by Lyon and Turnbull, Broughton Place, Edinburgh.

The talk and exhibition will consider how important dress and appearance are to Spark's characters.

Invitations to this evening event will be sent only to members of the Society and guests of Lyon and Turnbull.

Centenary Week

A packed week of centenary celebrations should have left nobody in any doubt that Muriel Spark was important.  The Usher Hall event, the BBC 2 Scotland documentary and the Symposium at Glasgow University brought the life and work of Dame Muriel to a wide range of readers.  The diverse range of papers at the Symposium brought so much to light, particularly the talks by Mark Curran, Robert Hosmer, Catriona Macdonald and Helen Stoddard.  Ali Smith enchanted her audience with her discussion with Zoe Strachan.  (Ali's 'Desert Island' book is 'Loitering with Intent')

The Society will bring this week to an end with our annual Birthday Lunch on Sunday 4 February to which we'll be welcoming existing and new members and our guests.  Happy 100th!

Spark Memorial - Letter in The Times

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Monday, January 29, 2018

'Mistress of Unease': The Poetry of Muriel Spark

Dame Muriel Spark always considered herself a poet, not a novelist.   Stewart Conn, former Edinburgh Makar, will remind us why poetry was essential to her writing.

On February 7th, 12.45 - 1.30 pm, in the Hawthornden Theatre at the Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh, Stewart will be discussing the poetry of Muriel Spark in an entertaining and stimulating talk.  He is joined by Gerda Stevenson, actor, writer, director and singer, who will be reading Spark's poetry.

Muriel Spark 100: All Miss Brodie's Girls?

Essential listening! On BBC Radio 3's 'The Essay', and online, leading Scottish writers including Ali Smith and Janice Galloway reflect on different aspects of Muriel Spark in a series of talks.

Monday 5 February - Friday 9 February  Radio 3 at 22.45

‘Vital, witty, formidably blithe’: Ali Smith on Muriel Spark at 100

This essay by Ali Smith is a timely reminder of the outstanding lecture she gave for the Society in November 2017.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Spark & Burns by Willy Maley

The Many Primes of Muriel Spark BBC 2 Scotland

On 31st January at 9 pm on BBC 2: 

Kirsty Wark celebrates the life and work of Dame Muriel Spark, author of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and one of the 20th century's most enigmatic cultural figures, on the one-hundredth anniversary of her birth.
Born in Edinburgh, Muriel's extraordinary life took her to colonial Africa, wartime London, literary New York and vibrant 1960s Rome. Her most famous novel - The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie - immortalised the city of her childhood but with an added darkness and acerbic wit that became her trademark style.
Kirsty retraces Muriel's footsteps from the cobbled streets of Edinburgh to the sublime beauty of Victoria Falls. Contributions from writers AL Kennedy, Janice Galloway, Ali Smith, William Boyd and Val McDermid tell of Muriel Spark's unique literary style and a life full of reinvention.
Kirsty meets with the journalist Alan Taylor, who has recently published his memoir of Muriel, and she travels to Italy for the first television interview with Penelope Jardine, Muriel's close friend of 40 years.

National Library of Scotland, Scottish Charity, No: SCO11086
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BBC Radio 4 - Open Book, A celebration of Muriel Spark