Muriel Spark Biography

Dame Muriel Spark (1 February 1918 – 13 April 2006) was an award-winning Scottish novelist. In 2008 The Times newspaper named Spark in its list of "the 50 greatest British writers since 1945", at #8.

She was born Muriel Sarah Camberg in Edinburgh, the daughter of Sarah Elizabeth Maud (née Uezzell) and Bernard Camberg, an engineer. Her father was Jewish and her mother had been raised a Presbyterian, as was Spark. She was educated at James Gillespie's High School for Girls (1923 – 1935). The family lived in the Bruntsfield area of Edinburgh. In 1934–35 she took a course in "Commercial correspondence and précis writing" at Heriot-Watt College. She taught English for a brief time and then worked as a secretary in a department store.

On 3 September 1937 she married Sidney Oswald Spark, and soon followed him to Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). Their son Robin was born in July 1938. Within months she discovered that her husband was manic depressive and prone to violent outbursts. In 1940 Muriel left Sidney and Robin. She returned to the United Kingdom in early 1944, taking residence at the Helena Club in London; years later the club would be her inspiration for the fictional May of Teck Club in The Girls of Slender Means. She worked in Intelligence for the remainder of World War II. She provided money at regular intervals to support her son as he toiled unsuccessfully over the years. Spark maintained it was her intention for her family to set up home in England, but Robin returned to Britain with his father later to be brought up by his maternal grandparents in Scotland.