NEXT year sees the centenary of the birth of Muriel Spark, a Scottish writer of international fame who created a fictional national treasure. Miss Jean Brodie, though, was just one of a galaxy of compelling characters – often well-spoken and waspish, perhaps a little formal or elegant, sometimes suffering, sometimes powerless, sometimes monstrous – who appeared in Dame Muriel’s 22 novels.

That all of these novels are to be republished by Polygon to mark the centenary is good news indeed, not just for the pleasure it will give those who already love her work but for the opportunity it will afford new readers to discover this most distinctive of writers.

Other events, such as conferences, exhibitions and BBC programmes, are also planned and many novelists will recount the influence Dame Muriel had on them. From the first publication of The Comforters in 1957, she lit up Scottish literature, though her tone was sometimes dark (at times comically so). A frequent theme was authenticity, and how it was affected by religion, art or politics.

All of these helped shape Miss Brodie, the inspiring but dubious character who still fascinates us today. That novel also delightfully captured the feel and atmosphere of 1930s Edinburgh. Dame Muriel was assuredly among the crème de la crème of writers and next year’s celebration of her life and work is something to which we look forward immensely.