Muriel Spark, Her Novels and The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

prime of miss jean brodie book cover

Dame Muriel Spark (née Muriel Sarah Camberg) was born in Edinburgh on the 1st February 1918, and 2018 is the centenary of her birth. She is most famous for her sixth novel, published in 1961, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, with its eponymous title character, the free spirited Miss Jean Brodie.  She was placed placed her eighth in The Times list of the ‘50 greatest post-war writers’.

Muriel Spark began writing poetry in her early teens at school. At the age of 19 she left Scotland for Southern Rhodesia to marry Sydney Oswald Spark, thirteen years her senior whom she had met at a dance in Edinburgh. In July of 1938, she gave birth to a son Samuel Robin Spark in Southern Rhodesia and having left the marriage, Spark supported herself and her son there. Spark began writing seriously after the war, under her married name, beginning with poetry and literary criticism. In 1947 she became editor of the Poetry Review. In 1953 Muriel Spark was baptised in the Church of England but in 1954 she decided to join the Roman Catholic Church, which she considered crucial in her development toward becoming a novelist.

Her first novel, The Comforters, was published in 1957. It featured several references to Catholicism and conversion to Catholicism, although its main theme revolved around a young woman who becomes aware that she is a character in a novel. Spark was to publish four more novels Robinson (1958),  Memento Mori (1959), The Ballad of Peckham Rye (1960) and the The Bachelors (1960) until The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie in 1961. Brodie was to become the novel that she would forever synoymous with. In the novel Spark displayed originality of subject and tone, making extensive use of flash forwards and imagined conversations.

Muriel Spark Novels and Price Guide
These prices are a reflection of the market as of 15th January 2018.
As with most modern first editions condition of the dust jacket is critical to the valuation.

The Comforters (1957)
Robinson (1958)
Memento Mori (1959)
The Ballad of Peckham Rye (1960)

The Bachelors (1960)
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1961)
The Girls of Slender Means (1963)
The Mandelbaum Gate (1965)
The Public Image (1968)
The Driver’s Seat (1970)
Not To Disturb (1971)
The Hothouse by the East River (1973)
The Abbess of Crewe (1974)
The Takeover (1976)
Territorial Rights (1979)
Loitering with Intent (1981)
The Only Problem (1984)
A Far Cry From Kensington (1988)
Symposium (1990)
Reality and Dreams (1996)
Aiding and Abetting (2000)
The Finishing School (2004)

the comforters book cover muriel spark

Reference
Celebrating Muriel Spark and writing about post traumatic stress – Radio 4 a look at the work of Muriel Spark and discussion with William Boyd and Alan Taylor (14 January 2018)
Dame Muriel Spark – A great British novelist, and the waspish creator of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie – obituary on The Guardian (17 April 2006)

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