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Muriel Spark: The Biography

Martin Stannard

$66.95

Hardback

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WW Norton & Co
19 August 2010
Biography; Biography: literary; Literary studies: from c 1900 -; Literary studies: fiction, novelists & prose writers
Born in 1918 into a working-class Edinburgh family, Muriel Spark became the epitome of literary chic and one of the great writers of the twentieth century. Her autobiography, Curriculum Vitae, recorded her early years but politely blurred her darker moments: troubled relations with her family, a terrifying period of hallucinations, and disastrous affairs with the men she loved. At the age of nineteen, Spark left Scotland to get married in southern Rhodesia, only to divorce and escape back to Britain in 1944. Her son returned in 1945 and was brought up by Spark's parents while she established herself as a poet and critic in London. After converting to Catholicism in 1954, she began writing novels that propelled her into the literary stratosphere. These came to include Memento Mori, The Girls of Slender Means, and A Far Cry from Kensington.

With The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1961), later adapted into a successful play and film, Spark became an international celebrity and began to live half her life in New York City. John Updike, Tennessee Williams, Evelyn Waugh, and Graham Greene applauded her work. She had an office at The New Yorker and became friends with Shirley Hazzard and W. H. Auden. Spark ultimately settled in Italy, where for more than thirty years-until her death in 2006-she shared a house with the artist Penelope Jardine.

Spark gave Martin Stannard full access to her papers. He interviewed her many times as well as her colleagues, friends, and family members. The result is an indelible portrait of one of the most significant and emotionally complicated writers of the twentieth century. Stannard presents Spark as a woman of strong feeling, sharp wit, and unabashed ambition, determined to devote her life to her art. Muriel Spark promises to become the definitive biography of a literary icon.
By:   Martin Stannard
Imprint:   WW Norton & Co
Country of Publication:   United States
Dimensions:   Height: 244mm,  Width: 168mm,  Spine: 46mm
Weight:   1.059kg
ISBN:   9780393051742
ISBN 10:   0393051749
Pages:   656
Publication Date:   19 August 2010
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Martin Stannard is a professor of modern English literature at the University of Leicester, where he has taught since 1979. He was previously Leverhulme Research Fellow in English Literature at the University of Edinburgh. He is the author of Muriel Spark: The Biography, Evelyn Waugh, The Early Years: 1903-1939 and Evelyn Waugh, The Later Years: 1939-1966, and editor of Evelyn Waugh, The Critical Heritage. His many articles and reviews have appeared in Modern Language Review, Essays in Criticism, the New York Times Book Review, the Times Higher Education Supplement, and Novel, among other publications.

Reviews for Muriel Spark: The Biography

A New York Times Editor's Choice: Thorough, judicious and insightful. --Charles McGrath


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