Born in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1918, Muriel Spark is considered one of the giants of twentieth-century fiction. John Updike described her in The New Yorker as "one of the few writers on either side of the Atlantic with enough resources, daring, and stamina to be altering, as well as feeding, the fiction machine." With her numerous works, which include Memento Mori, The Ballad of Peckham Rye, and Symposium, she joins two great traditions of the English novel: that of the comedy of manners ("the Jane Austen of the surrealists," David Pryce-Jones has called Spark); and that of romantic-gothic fiction, from the Brontes and Mary Shelley onward. After writing more than twenty books and receiving various literary awards, Spark was created a Dame in the Order of the British Empire in 1993. She currently makes her home in Italy.