BORN: February 1, 1918, Edinburgh, Scotland
IDENTIFICATION: Scottish novelist, short-story writer, poet, biographer, critic, and playwright whose work, sardonic and witty, frequently deals with themes of human evil and its sources.
SIGNIFICANCE: Muriel Spark is one of the most influential British novelists of the late twentieth century. She writes in the sparse, witty, and cool modernist tradition of Graham Greene and Evelyn Waugh, and like both those writers, she is a Roman Catholic. Her work, though delighting in the natural world, usually adopts the mode of mordant social satire; she excels at revealing the odd, visionary order that exists beneath the apparent chaos of human affairs. Spark's tone has been much imitated, and many writers have been influenced by her ironic observation of women in groups, especially in her masterpieces, The Abbess of Crewe and The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, both of which have been successfully filmed.