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ALS from Muriel Spark regarding the Dog Killers of Valdichina

ALS from Muriel Spark regarding the Dog Killers of Valdichina


Muriel Spark

ALS to ‘David’ regarding the poisoning of her dog Mungo. 

San Giovanni di Oliveto, 1999


Manuscript letter (21 x 29.5cm when unfolded), on Spark’s headed notepaper showing the printed image of a cherub; paper watermarked ‘Zetta Matt Post’; fine aside from the odd spot, author’s name slightly smudged; in the original stamped and addressed envelope (22 x 11cm), post mark dated 6-4-99, with Spark’s return address written to verso; slightly roughly opened by letter knife. 


On the 18th March 1999,  Spark wrote an article which appeared in the Guardian regarding the ‘Dog Killers of Valdichiana’. Entitled ‘Death in Florence’, it explored the dark practice of wild boar hunters killing dogs by sowing poison on the fields of Tuscany. The reason given, she wrote, was that “dogs and cats spoil hunters' game, that they interfere with the system of repopulation after the hunting season closes in the spring.” But Spark had a different theory - that rival gangs of truffle merchants, in their search for the prized delicacy, deliberately poisoned each other’s working dogs, with local pets suffering the consequences.  


The present letter was written shortly before the article was published. In it, Spark writes to a David Gardam [?], thanking him for his letter, and his “sweet remembrance of Mungo” - a dog whom she had rescued with her friend and secretary Penelope Jardine and whom refers to in the later article as “my adorable brown Mungo.” She continues: “we did indeed feel his death very keenly” before claiming “it was not until our friends…who have a house nearby, lost their two gorgeous dalmatians through poisoning, that I decided to make [it] public. It is doing some good - there is to be a public protest later this month, against the poisoning of animals.”

An interesting letter from the author of such popular works as The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and The Driver’s Seat.

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