Talk celebrates the birth of a famous Edinburgh author

Alan Taylor speaks on Muriel Spark at Melrose Literary Society on January 15.
Alan Taylor speaks on Muriel Spark at Melrose Literary Society on January 15.

Melrose Literary Society is to celebrate the centenary of Muriel Spark’s birth with a talk by Alan Taylor.

Alan, who lives in Bowden and is well known as a journalist, author and broadcaster, had a long lasting friendship with the author of the iconic novel, The Pride of Miss Jean Brodie.

His book, ‘Appointment in Arezzo’, describes how an interview in the Italian town in 1990 led to him getting to know her well. He spent family holidays in her home in rural Tuscany, accompanied her on trips and met her on her rare trips to Scotland.

His description of her idiosyncratic household arrangements, the parties and travel bring added charm and detail to a touching memoir. What emerges is a colourful portrait of a vivacious, witty, generous and fiercely independent woman. He does not shy away from her failed marriage, the estrangement from her son and the distance she kept for many years between herself and her home country but is able to relate her triumphant return to Edinburgh to appear before an adoring sell-out crowd at the International Book festival.

In addition to these personal memories, Alan is also Editor of the Scottish Review of Books and therefore well placed to assess her contribution to Scottish literature.

The meeting will be held on January 15 at 7.30pm upstairs in the Ormiston institute, Melrose.

Non-members are welcome, for a £3 admission charge.

Further information is available from the secretary, Peter Hoad, (; 01896 823852).

Local author Michael Needham launches his autobiography, Yellow Spaghetti, at the Cross Keys, Peebles on January 11 at 7pm.

The book tells the story of his life through adventures and misadventures and round-the-world trips.

Diagnosed with dyslexia and dyspraxia as an adult, Michael looks at how these issues have affected him throughout his life. Despite the challenges he’s faced, Michael has overcome these obstacles to run marathons, travel the world and even stand in a local election.

Michael will be reading extracts from Yellow Spaghetti, signing copies and talking about his next project. Admission is free. Yellow Spaghetti (£8.99) is available in any good bookstore or from Amazon.