Muriel Spark was already well known for her critical studies and verse before embarking on the novels that have established her reputation as one of this country's most respected writers.
She was born in Edinburgh and educated at James Gillespie's School for Girls and Heriot-Watt College. During the Second World War she was employed in the Foreign Office Political Intelligence Department. In 1954 Muriel Spark was converted to Roman Catholicism, and three years later published The Comforters, whose religious theme was dealt with satirically. Her next novel, The Bachelors (1960), was about spiritualism, while The Ballad of Peckham Rye (1960) imagined the manifestation of satanism in a prosaic suburb. Her most well-known work, certainly in her native city, is probably The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1961), a witty portrait of a highly individual and influential teacher at an Edinburgh girls' school between the wars.
She was appointed OBE in 1967 and has been awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Letters by the University of Strathclyde (1971) and the University of Edinburgh (1989).