Muriel Spark: The Biography

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9780393051742: Muriel Spark: The Biography

The compelling first biography of a twentieth-century literary enigma.

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. 16 pages of b/w photographs

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From the Back Cover:

“Martin Stannard’s biography of Muriel Spark―dark queen of postwar British fiction and, for me at least, one of the great writers of all time―is as astonishing as his subject. In his chronicle of her rich, adverse, and inexplicable life and work he has, like a brilliant lepidopterist, managed to catch her and pin her down while preserving her elusive genius as an artist and a woman in the twentieth century.” ―Jenny McPhee, author of A Man of No Moon

“Excellent . . . superbly detailed . . . , patient, affectionate, sometimes funny and . . . very intelligent. It is hard to believe that the work could have been done better.” ―Frank Kermode, London Review of Books

“Will undoubtedly be the standard biography of a writer with perhaps the most distinctive voice . . . in postwar British fiction.” ―Mark Bostridge, The Observer

“This account will not be surpassed.” ―Bryan Cheyette, The Independent

“Gripping, . . . rich, complex . . . well worth the wait. Witty, readable, and well researched, it is about as satisfying as a literary biography can be.” ―Frances Wilson, Daily Telegraph

“[Stannard’s] triumph is to have produced an account that . . . revealed [Spark’s] vanity and egotism so unmistakably, as well as her courage, vitality and determination.” ―John Carey, The Times

“Stannard is himself now a giant of his genre. . . . [He] brilliantly and sympathetically effaces the self-mythology of Spark’s well-known public image . . . a gifted biographer with a fine turn of phrase.” Martin McQuillan, Times Higher Education Supplement

“A wonderful blend of scholarly fact and juicy storytelling.” ―Katheryn Hughes, Mail on Sunday

“Exceptionally well written and lively.” ―Robin Baird-Smith, Tablet

“A best biography of the year.” ?Nicholas Shakespeare, Daily Telegraph

About the Author:

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.

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Book Description WW Norton Co, United States, 2010. Hardback. Book Condition: New. New.. Language: English . Brand New Book. 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. Bookseller Inventory # POW9780393051742

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Book Description WW Norton Co, United States, 2010. Hardback. Book Condition: New. New.. Language: English . Brand New Book. 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. Bookseller Inventory # POW9780393051742

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