Muriel Spark was born Muriel Camberg in Edinburgh on 1 February 1918. She lived in Bruntsfield Place with her family.
Attending James Gillespie's High School for Girls, she quickly established herself as an exceptionally bright and hardworking pupil.
She achieved early literary success through the publication of her poetry in the school magazine, and won numerous school prizes. One of her earliest sources of inspiration was her teacher Miss Christina Kay, who 'bore within her the seeds of the future Miss Jean Brodie'.
On leaving school, Spark attended a précis writing course at Heriot-Watt College. She taught at a private school in return for tuition in shorthand and typing — skills she found invaluable all her life.
At the age of 18, Spark found a paying job in the office of William Small's department store, one of several 'super-elegant establishments' on Princes Street. She later wrote: ' … at Small's I never tired of soaking up the mixed atmosphere of luxury, real elegance and silliness.'
Spark had established her method — the acute observation of people: 'I can't remember a time when I was not a person-watcher, a behaviourist'.
Among the 'Edinburgh' items in the Muriel Spark exhibition are:
- The manuscript of 'The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie'
- The laurel wreath presented y a school friend in 1932
- Four notebooks
- School and college certificates.
- Correspondence and documents relating to stage, film and TV adaptations of 'Brodie'.