The Girl I Left Behind Me by Muriel Spark

the girl i left behind me by muriel spark summary

The Girl I Left Behind Me by Muriel Spark is a beautiful short story written by one of the most famous authors of all time. It reflects the emotions that people experience and the adversities that they face during their lives. This is the main reason that so many readers love the book. And it’s also the reason why it’s one of the most influential works of literature ever written.


Muriel Spark is a Scottish novelist and poet. Her novels are considered among the best of the genre. She is also a prolific short story writer.

She was born in Scotland in 1918. She was raised by gentiles and Jewish relatives. She was known for her light touch and camp humor. A former editor of Poetry Review, she wrote poetry as well as fiction.

During the late 1940s, she fell in love with poet and editor Howard Sergeant. After winning the competition, she began writing short stories. They were often set in Africa.

Spark’s time in Africa greatly affected her artistic vision. During the course of her time there, she was shocked by the casual cruelty of children.

This experience led her to conclude that “life is a pilgrimage,” an idea that figures prominently in her work. Many of her stories focus on childhood themes.

She became interested in Mary Shelley. In 1950, she studied her works. However, she is now regarded as overdone. She was also the target of Norman Mailer’s critical slam.

The first volume of Spark’s fiction was published in 1957. It was titled Memento Mori.

She began working on her own magazine. One of her first stories was published in the Observer.

Throughout her career, she travelled to nine countries. At age 19, she left Scotland for Rhodesia. While she lived in that country, she had to take care of herself.

During that time, she found a job as a part-time secretarial. She also rented a study on Peter Nevill’s premises.

Ultimately, Spark became the editor of a quarterly magazine. She then converted to Catholicism. But the toughness of life in Rhodesia had a serious impact on her. Eventually, she moved out of Sussex Mansions in March 1953.

Spark was a member of the Poetry Society. In 1947, she became editor of the Poetry Review. Some of her poems were about African subjects.

By the time she died in 1989, she had written at least one book a year. She was considered one of the most distinguished writers of the twentieth century.

Short stories

The girl I left behind me by Muriel Spark is a short story that is a classic example of the author’s ability to blend comedy with psychological insight. It is the tale of a woman who carries on a pawnbroker business while her husband is away.

As an adult, the woman finds herself caught between two cultures. She searches for identity and safety. Her search is interrupted by a traumatic event.

Several of Spark’s early short stories deal with supernatural and crime. These are characterized by blurred genre boundaries, and a distinctive narrative voice. Generally, the characters’ impressions serve as a basis for the plot.

During her writing career, she wrote children’s books and radio plays, and won several awards, including the David Cohen Prize for Literature and the Ingersoll T.S. Eliot Award.

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, her first novel, was made into a film. Later, she received the James Tait Black Memorial Prize.

While her novels are considered to be the most successful, her short fiction is also popular. Often set in Africa or Britain’s colonies in Africa, these stories examine the manipulative power of female characters.

One of the longest stories by Spark is ‘The Go-Away Bird’. It is a tale of a woman and murder, and it illustrates the struggle of individual lives.

Another tale by Spark is ‘The Portobello Road’. This story takes place in a British colony in Africa. Among the characters is a child who is a ghost and is narrated by his childhood friend.

A few years later, Spark published ‘The Ballad of Peckham Rye’. Another story, ‘A Love Cycle’, includes 645 lines.

Although she is regarded as a talented writer, there is some debate about her creative methodology. According to Geordie Greig, Spark rarely redrafted her work. However, there is evidence that her style of writing is unorthodox.

Interestingly, her archive reveals that her novel ‘Warrander Chase’ began as a play. And it was 20 years later that she recycled this material for her novel ‘Reality and Dreams’.


Muriel Spark was a Scottish writer who became one of the most distinctive writers of the twentieth century. Her work reflected a sense of moral truth. She often portrayed childhood themes in her short fiction.

Spark’s stories are mostly set in England and Europe, with occasional references to Africa. They use impressions and dialogue to convey plot. In her radio play “The Dry River Bed,” Spark satirizes settler life.

Spark’s tales are psychologically interesting. The characters are often difficult to identify, but the reader is given ample opportunity to evaluate them. Several characters are characterized as devilish, while others are portrayed as mild-mannered.

Spark was a gifted storyteller. In her books, the narrator’s voice is rarely wordy. There are often gaps in the narrative, and readers are required to fill in the missing details.

Spark’s work was charged with hate, love, and savage power. Many of her stories were inspired by her experiences in Africa. This experience left her keenly aware of the harshness and casual cruelty of everyday life. During her time in Africa, she learned the value of silence.

Her work is a reminder that the world is a place of meaninglessness and corruption. It is also a place of alienation.

Unlike most authors, who were taught to write by others, Spark had to teach herself. She had a knack for listening to ballads from her ancestors.

She was a prolific writer. Her short fiction was published over four decades. Each edition of her work includes new stories. Those volumes include some of her most well-known works.

Spark’s official biography was written by Martin Stannard. Although Stannard tends to overapologize for her subject, his book is thorough and insightful. He is especially good at examining Spark’s post-war years.

As Spark grew older, her reputation began to fall. At the time of her death in 2006, her reputation was worse than Evelyn Waugh’s. However, she did outlive Waugh.

Spark was born in Edinburgh in 1918. She grew up with a Jewish father and a gentile mother. Both of her parents did not worship religion. She had no chores to do as a child.