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Christopher Tayler: Muriel Spark’s Essays

24 September 2014
The Golden Fleece: Essays 
by Muriel Spark, edited by Penelope Jardine.
Carcanet, 226 pp., £16.99, March 2014, 978 1 84777 251 0
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... world’ were central to her myth of herself, often returned to, and are well represented in The Golden Fleece, a selection of essays, reviews and reminiscences put together on her instructions by PenelopeJardine, her assistant, friend, housemate and literary executor. The publishing history alone tells a story of unblushing professionalism: the earliest piece was written in 1948 for Argentor, the ...

Mistress of Disappearances

Frank Kermode: Eluding Muriel Spark

10 September 2009
Muriel Spark: The Biography 
by Martin Stannard.
Weidenfeld, 627 pp., £25, July 2009, 978 0 297 81592 1
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... the Church, affirming that she was not a ‘Vatican Catholic’: ‘I don’t know why the Catholic Church doesn’t stick to politics and keep its nose out of morals.’ As her relationship with PenelopeJardine matured she spent less time in Rome and more at Jardine’s house in Tuscany. She died in a Florentine hospital in April 2006, aged 88. Stannard follows the course of her extraordinary career ...

Unusual Endowments

Patrick Collinson

30 March 2000
Philip Sidney: A Double Life 
by Alan Stewart.
Chatto, 400 pp., £20, February 2000, 0 7011 6859 5
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... to answer them’; and when Sidney came to rewrite the book, not only the plot but the questions were altered. If the Anjou match helped to provoke The Arcadia, the disappointment of the marriage of Penelope Devereux to Lord Rich was what Stewart calls the ‘necessary inspiration’ for the love-lorn sonnets, Astrophil and Stella. In 1583, Sidney married Walsingham’s daughter (who as a young widow ...

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