THOUGH she is undoubtedly Scotland’s greatest female novelist and her life story is becoming better known each day of this year of events to mark the centenary of her birth, there is one aspect of Dame Muriel Spark (pictured, right) which is not widely appreciated.

For though she was nobody’s idea of a secret agent, Spark was indeed a ‘spook’, working for MI6 before she became a literary sensation.

The secret life of Dame Muriel will be examined as part of Edinburgh’s Spy Week which starts on Monday and puts espionage and intrigue in the spotlight.

Illuminating stories of double agents, code breakers and surveillance are spotlighted in a festival of history, film and fiction organised by the University of Edinburgh, with the highlight being the discussion on Spark’s secret life.

Leading academics will examine how the acclaimed Edinburgh-born author worked for UK foreign intelligence service MI6 at an event at the National Library of Scotland.

The discussion, which is part of the Muriel Spark 100 year of events to celebrate the author’s centenary, will explore how spying is portrayed in her work.

Next week is Spy Week’s fifth anniversary and the milestone will be celebrated in an opening debate at the university about the role of spy fiction today.

Award-winning spy novelists Jeremy Duns and Edinburgh-based Aly Monroe will explore the changing role of the spy in fiction, television and film. The event is sponsored by the podcast series, Spybrary.

In another event at the university, a leading intelligence expert will consider the uneasiness about secrecy and conspiracy in the contemporary world. Mark Laity, director of communications at NATO’s military headquarters, SHAPE, will talk about contemporary responses to surveillance culture in an event at the university.

Leading historians and biographers Stephen Dorril, author of many books on the history of secret services and Andrew Lownie, most recently the author of Stalin’s Englishman: The Lives of Guy Burgess, will dig into the secret lives of spies and the challenge of writing about them in an event at Blackwell’s Bookshop.

A final event explores the differences between detective stories and spy fiction. Award-winning novelists Mick Herron – author of the Slough House series – and Denise Mina, whose The Long Drop was Scottish Crime Novel of the Year in 2017 – will talk about mysteries and conspiracies at St Cecilia’s Hall in Niddry Street.

Screenings at Edinburgh Filmhouse will feature adaptations of 36 Hours, a 1965 American suspense film, based on the short story Beware of the Dog by Roald Dahl and The Boys from Brazil, a 1978 British-American science fiction thriller nominated for three Academy Awards.

Also showing will be the first Taiwanese-language spy film, The Best Secret Agent, a remake of a 1945 movie of the same name.

All talks at the university, Blackwell’s and the National Library of Scotland are free but must be booked in advance via Eventbrite.