Spark, Dame Muriel

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Spark, Dame Muriel,

1918–2006, Scottish novelist, b. Muriel Sarah Camberg. She lived in Edinburgh, Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), London, New York, and Rome, and spent her last years in Tuscany. Spark's typically short, spare, and witty novels expose the pretensions, hypocrisies, and petty foibles of her characters with merciless satire and cool detachment. Her Roman Catholicism (she converted in 1954) informs her acute moral vision and underlies her interest in revealing the dark, terrifying, evil, and unexplainable side of banal human experience. Spark's 22 novels include The Comforters (1957), Memento Mori (1958), The Bachelors (1960), The Girls of Slender Means (1963), The Mandelbaum Gate (1965), The Driver's Seat (1970), The Abbess of Crewe (1974), The Takeover (1976), Loitering with Intent (1981), A Far Cry from Kensington (1988), Reality and Dreams (1997), Aiding and Abetting (2001), and The Finishing School (2004). Her short novel The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1961) became an acclaimed stage, film, and television production; its success made Spark famous and wealthy. Her poems and short stories are compiled in Collected Poems I (1967), Collected Stories I (1968), and Open to the Public: New and Collected Stories (1997, rev. ed. 2001). Many of her essays, written 1950–2003, were collected in The Informed Air (2014). She also wrote critical studies of Mary ShelleyShelley, Mary Wollstonecraft,
1797–1851, English author; daughter of William Godwin and Mary Wollstonecraft. In 1814 she fell in love with the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, accompanied him abroad, and after the death of his first wife in 1816 was married to him.
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 (1951) and John MasefieldMasefield, John
, 1878–1967, English poet. He went to sea as a youth and later spent several years in the United States. In 1897 he returned to England and was on the staff of the Manchester Guardian.
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 (1953) and a biography of Emily BrontëBrontë
, family of English novelists, including Charlotte Brontë, 1816–55, English novelist, Emily Jane Brontë, 1818–48, English novelist and poet, and Anne Brontë, 1820–49, English novelist.
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 (1953). She was made a Dame of the British Empire in 1993.

Bibliography

See her autobiography, Curriculum Vitae (1993); critical biography by B. Cheyette (2001), biography by M. Stannard (2010); studies by D. Stanford (1963), K. Malkoff (1968), P. Stubbs, ed. (1973), R. Whittaker (1982), A. Bold, ed. (1986), D. Walker (1988), R. S. Edgecombe (1990), N. Page (1990), J. L. Randisi (1991), J. Hynes, ed. (1992), J. Sproxton (1992), M. Pearlman (1996), F. E. Apostolou (2001), M. McQuillan, ed. (2001), and M. Herman (2010).

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She was born Muriel Sarah Camberg in Edinburgh in 1918, the daughter of Bertie Camberg, a Jewish Lithuanian engineer, and his English Protestant wife Sarah, a piano teacher.
Dame Muriel was born Muriel Sarah Camberg in Edinburgh in 1918.
Born Muriel Sarah Camberg in Edinburgh in 1918, she married schoolteacher Sidney Oswald Spark when she was 19.