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Muriel Spark: The Biography

Martin Stannard

3 Reviews

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Biography: general, Biography: literary, Prose: non-fiction

The long-awaited biography of one of the great writers of the twentieth century.

Born in 1918 into a working-class Edinburgh family, Muriel Spark ended as the epitome of literary chic, one of the great writers of the twentieth century.

It is a Cinderella story, the first thirty-nine years of which she presented in her autobiography, Curriculum Vitae (1992), politely blurring the intensity of her darker moments: her relations with her brother, mother, son, husband; a terrifying period of hallucinations and subsequent depression; and the disastrously misplaced love she had felt for two men she had wanted to marry, Howard Sergeant and Derek Stanford.

Aged nineteen, Spark left Scotland to marry in Southern Rhodesia, escaping back to Britain on a troopship in 1944 after her divorce. Her son returned in 1945 to be brought up by her parents in Edinburgh while she established herself as a poet and critic in London.

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Praise for Muriel Spark: The Biography

  • Written by Martin Stannard, a renowned academic, and 17 years in the making, Muriel Spark is a 'Cinderella story' of how an only child from a working-class family became a literary great. - The West Australian

  • Stannard's exhaustively researched biography, a decade in the writing and encouraged by its subject before her death in 2006, steers a careful course to ensure that full-blown melodrama is avoided. - The Sydney Morning Herald

  • Stannard has written a superb life of Muriel Spark, never diminishing what was difficult in her personality, never forgetting the significance of the work. The Muriel Spark he evokes is extraordinary in the face of every frailty. She was, in defiance of every inner demon and external obstacle, so brave. - The Age

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Martin Stannard

Martin Stannard is Professor of Modern English Literature at the University of Leicester and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. He lives near Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire.

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