Today, 1st February, is Muriel Spark’s birthday. To commemorate, Beatriz Lopez has been uncovering a less well-known side to the novelist in the form of her wartime service in the Political Warfare Executive, the secret organisation created by Britain during the Second World War with the mission of spreading propaganda to the enemy.
In her novel Loitering with Intent, Spark presents the character of Fleur, a novelist who proposes that:
to make a character ring true it needs must be in some way contradictory, somewhere a paradox.
Beatriz suggests that Muriel Spark’s interest in plausible truths as a fiction writer owes much to her experience of black propaganda work within the Political Warfare Executive. She applied her intelligence-gathering techniques to her literary output, building characters that were based on truth (or the appearance of truth).
To follow the other traces of Spark’s black propaganda work in novels like The Comforters and Loitering with Intent, visit the PWE blog.
Beatriz Lopez is a PhD researcher within English Studies working on the Durham University project, The Political Warfare Executive, Covert Propaganda, and British Culture. Find her on Twitter as @bealoplop.