At the staid Marcia Blaine School for Girls, in Edinburgh, Scotland, Miss Jean Brodie--teacher extraordinaire--is unmistakably, and outspokenly, in her prime. She is passionate in the application of her unorthodox teaching methods, in her attraction to the married art master, Teddy Lloyd, in her affair with the bachelor music master, Gordon Lowther, and--most importantly--in her dedication to her girls. And her girls--the students she selects to be her creme de la creme--are devoted to Miss Brodie. Each member of the "Brodie set"--Eunice, Jenny, Mary, Monica, Rose, and Sandy--is "famous for something", and Miss Brodie strives to bring out the best in each, and to instill in each an independence, passion, and ambition surpassing her own. "Safety does not come first," Miss Brodie advises her girls. "Goodness, Truth and Beauty come first. Follow me." And they do. But one of her girls will betray her.
Miss Brodie has opponents: the "thrilling" senior science teacher, Miss Lockhart; Miss Gaunt, sister of a strict Calvinist minister; other members of the Marcia Blaine faculty; and the persevering headmistress, Miss Mackay.
Miss Mackay, orthodox and traditionalist in her educational principles, is determined to rid her school of Miss Brodie, but is repeatedly stymied. The time is the 1930s. And Miss Brodie, apparently unaware that many might find unacceptable her outspoken admiration for Mussolini and Hitler, revels in, exploits, and shares her prime, only to become a victim of her own irrepressible exuberance. In this "perfect book" (Chicago Tribune), Muriel Spark probes with consummate, compressed artistry the halcyon years of a remarkable woman, whose intelligence, wit, imagination, charm, and elegance--however misguided at times, however fatal--match those of her creator.