Page 103. " 'Oh play to me, Gipsy' to the accompaniment of Henry Hall's band "
Gracie Fields
Creative Commons AttributionGracie Fields - Credit: kate gabrielle, Flickr

 'Play to me, Gypsy' was a popular song of the 1930s.

Gracie Fields' version was one of the hit recordings of 1934


Listen on Spotify to Henry Hall's band playing the song.




Henry Robert Hall (1898-1989) was a musician who became particularly well known in 1932 when he became the leader of the BBC Dance Orchestra.

His radio programme, 'Henry Hall's Guest Night',  ran on and off for almost twenty years, introduced by the catchphrase: 'This is Henry Hall speaking and tonight is my Guest Night'. 

Page 104. " He wanted a honeymoon on the Hebridean island of Eigg, near Rum "


Listen on Spotify to Mendelssohn's Hebrides Overture.


Isle of Eigg marked by pointer; Isle of Rum to left:

Google Map


Page 105. " In the summer of nineteen-thirty-five the whole school was forced to wear rosettes of red, white and blue ribbons in the lapels of its blazers, because of the Silver Jubilee. "
King George V and Queen Mary in 1927
Public DomainKing George V and Queen Mary in 1927 - Credit: unknown

The Silver Jubilee referred to is that of King George V and his consort, Queen Mary.

George V was King of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions and Emperor of India between 1910 and his death in 1936.

In 1893 he married Princess Victoria Mary of Teck (often known as Princess May of Teck); the couple had five sons and a daughter.


Silver Jubilee stamp 1935
Creative Commons AttributionSilver Jubilee stamp 1935 - Credit: Smabs Sputzer, Flickr
Page 107. " they all belong to the Fabian Society and are pacifists "
 The Fabian Society, which is still in existence today, was founded in London in 1884.

Its purpose was to promote the principles of democratic socialism through gradual reformist policies rather than by revolutionary means.

Prominent members of the society have included Sidney and Beatrice Webb, George Bernard Shaw, Leonard and Virginia Woolf, and Emmeline Pankhurst.

Page 108. " her school, with its alien house system, might have been in Ealing "
Hawtrey House, Eton College (near Windsor)
Creative Commons AttributionHawtrey House, Eton College (near Windsor) - Credit: Elliott Brown, Flickr

 Ealing is a suburb of west London.

Muriel Spark is making the point that during the 20th century some features of the secondary educational system were common to schools throughout Britain. Several of these  aspects, such as  the system of 'houses', were based on the practices of the public school system. In the public school system, 'houses' were residential units whilst in the non-boarding state and independent sector they were simply a means of dividing pupils into groups for competitive purposes. The 'house' system is still in use in many British schools today.

The eduational system in Scotland has since followed a different course from that of England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Page 110. " 'Rose,' said Miss Brodie, 'is like a heroine from a novel by D.H. Lawrence. She has got instinct.' "

The English novelist and poet D.H. Lawrence (1885-1930) wrote 13 novels.

Amongst the best known are: Sons and Lovers (1913); The Rainbow (1915); Women in Love (1920) and  Lady Chatterley's Lover (1928).

Some significant female characters in his work are Gertrude Morel and Miriam Leivers (from Sons and Lovers); Ursula and Gudrun Brangwen (from The Rainbow and Women in Love) and Lady Chatterley (from Lady Chatterley's Lover).

On the basis of these novels, readers may come to various conclusions as to what constitutes 'instinct' in Lawrentian heroines!

Page 113. " announced in The Scotsman "

Offices of 'The Scotsman' in Edinburgh
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeOffices of 'The Scotsman' in Edinburgh - Credit: David Monniaux, Wikimedia Commons
 The Scotsman is a Scottish daily newspaper published in Edinburgh.

It first appeared in 1817.

Page 117. " Mary was reported to be always making remarks like, 'Why don't they eat cake?' "
Marie Antoinette (1783)
Public DomainMarie Antoinette (1783) - Credit: Élisabeth Vigée Lebrun (1755-1842)
Queen Marie Thérèse
Public DomainQueen Marie Thérèse - Credit: Charles Beaubrun

This is derived from the phrase 'Let them eat cake' supposedly uttered by Marie Antoinette (1755-1793), wife of King Louis XVI of France, in response to the complaints of the French peasantry about the lack of bread.

They are, in fact, a mistranslation of the words 'Qu'ils mangent de la brioche' ('Let them eat brioche*) attributed by Jean-Jacques Rousseau in his Confessions to 'a great princess'.

It has been suggested that the princess in question was not Marie Antoinette but Marie-Thérèse, wife of King Louis XIV.

*a light, soft-textured bread made with eggs, butter, flour and yeast.


Creative Commons AttributionBrioche - Credit: jaynefury, Flickr

Page 120. " 'I am his Muse,' said Miss Brodie. "
Public DomainCalliope - Credit: Cesare Dandini

Public Domain'Terpsichore' - Credit: Jean-Marc Nattier
 The Muses in Greek mythology were the nine goddesses who inspired creativity in literature and the arts.

They included Calliope, the Muse of epic poetry, Erato, the Muse of love poetry, and Terpsichore, the Muse of dance and choral song.

There was no specific Muse for the visual arts. The term is being used here to refer to the general concept of a woman who inspires male creativity.

Page 120. " She thinks she is Providence "
Part of the fresco: 'The Triumph of Divine Providence and the Fulfilment of her Ends'
Public DomainPart of the fresco: 'The Triumph of Divine Providence and the Fulfilment of her Ends' - Credit: Pietro da Cortona

 Divine providence is the name given in Christian theology to God's absolute power to direct the affairs of the universe and all living things.

It is an integral part of Calvinist Christian belief which emphasises the sovereignty of God and the sinfulness of man.

Within Calvinism the concept of providence also stresses the idea of predestination,  the notion that the life of an individual is mapped out for him in advance by God.

The concept of providence is sometimes personified as female.

In Roman mythology, Providentia was the goddess of forethought.

Page 122. " After the war Miss Brodie admitted to Sandy, as they sat in the Braid Hills Hotel, 'Hitler was rather naughty,' "
Duke of Windsor in Germany in October 1937
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeDuke of Windsor in Germany in October 1937 - Credit: Georg Pahl (German Federal Archive)

In the pre-war period, there were many British individuals who (like Miss Brodie) admired Hitler and Mussolini and the Nazi and Fascist regimes which they oversaw in Germany and Italy.

Amongst these admirers were some high profile names; for example, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor were believed to have Nazi sympathies. They toured Nazi Germany together in 1937 and the Duchess is reputed to have had a  romantic relationship with Joachim von Ribbentrop when he was German Ambassador in London in 1936. Following the war Von Ribbentrop was convicted of war crimes at Nuremberg and sentenced to death by hanging.

Two of the famous 'Mitford Sisters', Diana and Unity, were personal friends of Hitler during the 1930s.

Diana Mitford married Sir Oswald Mosley, leader of the British Union of Fascists, in Germany in 1936; Adolf Hitler was her guest of honour.

Unity Mitford was so distraught by the declaration of World War II in September 1939 that she attempted suicide whilst in Germany.

To support Fascism and Nazism prior to the war was a very different matter, of course, from continuing to support it after the war when the extent of Nazi atrocities and war crimes came to light.

Diana Mosley, who died in 2003, retained her fascist sympathies and anti-semitic views to the end of her life.

Today, those who misrepresent or play down the enormity of the Holocaust (the Jewish genocide carried out by Hitler and the Nazi regime) are known as holocaust deniers.

Click here to watch a video about Unity Mitford's fascination with Hitler.