One of many boxes containing Muriel Spark's
It was after the publication of Muriel Spark's autobiography in 1992 that the first consignment of her papers arrived at the National Library of Scotland from Tuscany.
The Muriel Spark archive is unique among the National Library's collections of Scottish writers. No other author so deliberately and carefully preserved a record of their life.
Spark made a decision to keep all kinds of documentary evidence in the 1904s:
'I am a hoarder of two things: documents and trusted friends,' she wrote.
' … one thing I have always known about my well-ordered archive is that it would stand by me, the silent, objective evidence of truth, should I ever need it'.
A social history
Spark called her archive a 'social history in itself'.
Early sparse records of wartime poverty chart the struggles of an unknown author. Retained with them in the archive are scores of diaries, numerous receipts and cheque books, and tens of thousands of letters, growing in number as her fame rose.
The correspondence in particular highlights the importance of friendships, from those that were decades-long to new literary acquaintances and admirers.
Most of Spark's personal archive is now at the Library, available for anyone to consult who has an interest in the life and work of this remarkable writer.