'The Brodie set: Muriel Spark’s "The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie"' by Sally Grant

I don’t remember how old I was when I first saw the film version of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie . As a young girl growing up in north-east Scotland, I didn’t know that it had been adapted from a 1961 novel of the same name by a writer known for her keen observational skills and biting wit called Muriel Spark, or that the story had first appeared, almost word for word, in the pages of The New Yorker. Indeed, I highly doubt I had heard of that august publication, let alone understood the writerly prestige of having an issue of The New Yorker devoted to one story.

But I do remember that when the indomitable schoolteacher Miss Brodie, as channelled by the equally formidable Maggie Smith, said this to her pupils, in her distinctive Edinburgh burr, I was smitten:

Little girls, I am in the business of putting old heads on young shoulders, and all my pupils are the crème de la crème. Give me a girl at an impressionable age, and she is mine for life.

Read the rest of this article by purchasing a subscription to ABR Online, or subscribe to the print edition to receive access to ABR Online free of charge.

If you are already a subscriber, click here, or on the ‘Log In’ tab in the top right hand corner of the screen, and enter your username and password to log in. If you have logged in but are still seeing this message your subscription to ABR Online may have expired. Please contact us or click here to renew your subscription to ABR Online. More information about ABR Online can be found on our Frequently Asked Questions page.

Leave a comment

Please note that all comments must be approved by ABR and comply with our Terms & Conditions.

NB: If you are an ABR Online subscriber or contributor, you will need to login to ABR Online in order to post a comment. If you have forgotten your login details, or if you receive an error message when trying to submit your comment, please email your comment (and the name of the article to which it relates) to comments@australianbookreview.com.au. We will review your comment and, subject to approval, we will post it under your name.