Muriel Spark was born in Edinburgh to a Jewish Lithuanian father and an English Protestant mother. Educated at James Gillespie's School for Girls, she later immortalised one of her teachers, Christina Kay, in her most famous novel, 'The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie'. Spark began her writing career in London as editor of 'The Poetry Review', but is now best known for her 'seriously funny' novels in which the struggle between good and evil is centre stage, a theme she shares with earlier Scottish writers. The success of her novels enabled her to leave London, moving to Italy in 1967. She only ever returned to Britain as a visitor, and sat for this commissioned portrait during a brief stay in Edinburgh. In 1993, Spark was made a Dame of the British Empire. She died in Tuscany in 2006, aged 88.