Muriel Spark's great skill as a novelist was prying open the lives of seemingly ordinary people, and revealing the chaos and turmoil beneath. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie should be on everyone's reading list. Some of her finest writing coincided with an era of magnificent dust jacket design in London with Victor Reinganum's artwork particularly memorable.
A Scot who moved to London, Spark's own story was not dull. Born in Edinburgh on 1 February 1918, she walked out on an unhappy marriage, leaving behind her son. She worked in intelligence in World War II, converted to Catholicism, and edited the Poetry Review magazine. She went on to live in New York and Italy. Her archives are housed in the National Library of Scotland. She died in 2006 at the age of 88 and was buried in Italy.
A signed first edition of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie will cost $2,500. Prices are in three figures for first edition copies of Spark's other notable books, although later printings are cheaper. First editions of her later books are very affordable.
Pictured below are a selection of Spark's books that we love for their looks and content. There are more - Spark wrote biographies, essays, poetry and short stories, and worked well into her eighties.