Edinburgh International Book Festival Themes: Muriel Spark 100

In Muriel Spark's centenary year an array of writers gather to remind us of the power of her work.

Edinburgh International Book Festival Themes:  Muriel Spark 100

About Edinburgh International Book Festival Themes: Muriel Spark 100

In her centenary year, Muriel Spark is being celebrated across the world for the astonishing breadth and diversity of her writing. But Edinburgh was special to the brilliant Bruntsfield-born writer who always considered herself ‘Scottish by formation’. In the year when all 22 novels are republished by Birlinn, we have gathered together an array of writers to remind us of the power of her work. Partnerships with BBC Scotland, Royal Lyceum Theatre Edinburgh and Durham University bring the author’s work captivatingly to life.

Janice Galloway on Muriel Spark
A TRIBUTE TO MURIEL SPARK
Saturday 11 August 11:45 - 12:45
We're celebrating Muriel Spark’s centenary year with a series of tributes to the great Scottish writer. In this, our opening event, Janice Galloway, the internationally-acclaimed Scottish author of novels, short stories, poetry and non-fiction (and more besides), presents Spark’s writing and ideas, encouraging us to ‘hear’ the voice of Spark by reading selections from her most evocative works. Chaired by Jenny Niven.

Spark, Sex and Shopping
PLEASURES IN PROSE
Monday 13 August 13:30 - 14:30
‘I sensed romance, sex,’ Muriel Spark said in her autobiography, recalling her teacher Miss Christina Kay. Shopping, too, was another lifelong preoccupation; her novels are replete with memorable scenes when characters shop and…shoplift. Louise Welsh and Zoë Strachan, who have written the introductions to Aiding and Abetting and Memento Mori, consider the importance of such essential – and pleasurable - activities in Spark’s life and work. Chaired by Alan Taylor.

Muriel Spark's London
BRIGHT LIGHT IN THE BIG CITY
Tuesday 14 August 17:00 - 18:00
Muriel Spark was born and bred in Edinburgh but it is London, the city of bedsits, bachelors and bombed out buildings, that features most often in her fiction. James Campbell of the Times Literary Supplement, and Rosemary Goring, literary editor of the Herald, who have both written introductions to the London-set The Girls of Slender Means and The Bachelors ponder why this is the case. Chaired by Alan Taylor.

All About Miss Jean Brodie
CHARACTERS IN THEIR PRIME
Wednesday 15 August 10:00 - 11:00
Muriel Spark’s name is synonymous with The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. But what makes the charismatic teacher such a fascinating character? What are the similarities between her and her real-life inspiration, Miss Christina Kay? The award-winning Edinburgh-born writer Candia McWilliam joins Alan Taylor, author of Appointment in Arezzo, to discuss the novel Spark called her ‘milch cow’. Chaired by Gail Wylie of the Muriel Spark Society.

Muriel Spark, Religion and Exile
A RELIGIOUS UNDERSTANDING
Friday 17 August 10:00 - 11:00
Muriel Spark described herself as ‘a constitutional exile’ who, though educated in a Presbyterian school and raised observing Jewish rituals, opted to convert to Catholicism. Gabriel Josipovici and Kapka Kassabova, who have written introductions to Spark's The Mandelbaum Gate and Territorial Rights, consider how she deals with such disparate elements in her fiction. Chaired by Alan Taylor.

Radio Spark: The Driver's Seat
NOVEL PERFORMANCE
Friday 17 August 18:30 - 20:00
As part of the Muriel Spark centenary celebrations, BBC Radio 4 presented the dramatic adaptation of one of Spark’s iconic novels, The Driver’s Seat, an unsettling story of a woman’s dark journey masterminding her own destruction. In this special event with staged performances from the radio play, join producer Gaynor Macfarlane and novelist Beatrice Colin, the adaptor, to explore the process of bringing Spark’s words to the radio.

Alan Taylor
LOITERING WITH MURIEL SPARK
Saturday 18 August 14:00 - 15:00
The singular narrative voice of Muriel Spark is one of her great legacies, transporting a charmingly waspish Edinburgh camp into the minds of readers across the world. Literary critic Alan Taylor struck up a friendship with Spark that lasted many years and in his graceful memoir, Appointment in Arezzo, he fondly charts a path through the times they spent together. An hour of warmth, wit and wonderful memories awaits.

Map the Voices of Spark's Characters
CREATIVE WORKSHOP
Sunday 19 August 17:00 - 19:00
Using playful exercises and prompts, and your knowledge of Muriel Spark’s characters, chart the voices you ‘hear’ to create a unique map to take away. You may choose to have it contribute to an atlas of reading experiences. Durham University’s Hearing the Voice project members, Mary Robson and David Napthine are on hand to guide you.

Map the Voices of Spark's Characters
CREATIVE WORKSHOP
Monday 20 August 10:00 - 12:00
Using playful exercises and prompts, and your knowledge of Muriel Spark’s characters, chart the voices you ‘hear’ to create a unique map to take away. You may choose to have it contribute to an atlas of reading experiences. Durham University’s Hearing the Voice project members, Mary Robson and David Napthine are on hand to guide you.

John Foxwell & Patricia Waugh
THE MANY VOICES OF MURIEL SPARK
Monday 20 August 19:15 - 20:15
Muriel Spark’s characters are famously acerbic and witheringly satirical but what was her relationship to the voices that inspired and defined them? John Foxwell and Patricia Waugh from the Department of English and Hearing the Voice project at Durham University offer a unique understanding of Spark’s many different voices for this event. By mapping multiple influences from Hebraic traditions to her work on propaganda, they hope to redefine our relationship with her novels.

Ali Smith
SPARK AND TIME
Tuesday 21 August 11:45 - 12:45
Delivering her Muriel Spark Society Annual Lecture at the National Library of Scotland late last year, Ali Smith described Edinburgh’s great writer as a ‘necessary angel’. She also kicked off conversations across Britain celebrating Spark’s legacy during her centenary year. Smith’s lecture was so stimulating and uplifting that we’ve asked her to present an adapted version of it today.

Radio Spark: Memento Mori
NOVEL PERFORMANCE
Tuesday 21 August 15:45 - 17:15
As part of the Muriel Spark centenary celebrations, BBC Radio 4 presented the dramatic adaptation of one of Spark’s iconic novels, Memento Mori. ‘Her first masterpiece’ is a compassionate exploration of death. In this special event with staged performances from the radio play, join producer Gaynor Macfarlane and adapter Robin Brooks to explore the process of bringing Spark’s words to the radio.

Dan Gunn on Not To Disturb
READING WORKSHOP
Wednesday 22 August 13:00 - 14:30
In today’s reading workshop novelist, translator and editor Dan Gunn explores Muriel Spark’s Not to Disturb, an agile send-up of different kinds of popular fiction, especially detective stories. It offers laughter and acerbic insight into conventional ways of writing about the hypocrisies of master-servant relationships. Expect an open discussion from the start; you can read the book ahead of the event or be inspired to pick it up afterwards.

Rosemary Goring on The Girls of Slender Means
READING WORKSHOP
Thursday 23 August 13:00 - 14:30
Literary editor Rosemary Goring explores Muriel Spark’s The Girls of Slender Means. Set in 1945's London in a boarding house for young ladies, the story follows the girls, their lives and love affairs, until a shocking event transforms the wry comedy of their existence into tragedy. It has been described as Spark at her very best. Expect an open discussion from the start; you can read the book ahead of the event or be inspired to pick it up afterwards.

Alan Taylor on The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie
READING WORKSHOP
Friday 24 August 13:00 - 14:30
Literary editor Alan Taylor was a friend of Muriel Spark and has become something of an aficionado on her life and work. Join him to explore the best known of her novels, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. Short and bittersweet, the tale of the downfall of a headstrong Scottish schoolmistress in 1930s Edinburgh is a masterpiece of narrative fiction. Expect an open discussion from the start; you can read the book ahead of the event or be inspired to pick it up afterwards.

While we take every opportunity to ensure the details for Edinburgh International Book Festival Themes: Muriel Spark 100 are accurate, we always advise that you contact the event organiser before setting out for the event to avoid disapointment.

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