The Scotsman 26 March 2024

In January 2018, the Edinburgh International Book Festival put on a celebration of Muriel Spark. Taking place in the Usher Hall on the eve of the centenary of the novelist’s birth, it included a rehearsed reading of Doctors Of Philosophy, Spark’s only play. Among the actors was Gabriel Quigley who turned out to have a formidable knowledge of the Edinburgh author. “You really know your Spark,” said director David Greig, impressed.

You do not have to talk to Quigley for long to see why. She raves about The Prime Of Miss Jean Brodie, of course, but her conversation encompasses everything from Spark’s short stories to her autobiography and her 1990 novel Symposium. As a student, she studied Spark as part of her course at the University of Glasgow and as an actor, appeared in Laurie Sansom’s adaptation of The Driver’s Seat for the National Theatre of Scotland. Her passion is infectious.

“I feel like I know her well,” says Quigley. “She is a stylist and a true modernist, but she is a realist about life – and the surreality and unexpectedness of life. That’s where the great truth in her writing comes from.” [READ MORE]

By Mark Fisher

MARK FISHER is a freelance theatre critic and feature writer based in Edinburgh and has written about theatre in Scotland since the late-1980s. He is a theatre critic for The Guardian, a former editor of The List magazine and a frequent contributor to the Scotsman and other publications. He is the co-editor of the play anthology Made in Scotland (1995), and the author of The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide (2012) and How to Write About Theatre (2015) – all Bloomsbury Methuen Drama. He is also the editor of The XTC Bumper Book of Fun for Boys and Girls and What Do You Call That Noise? An XTC Discovery Book (both Mark Fisher Ltd).