home

about us

contact us

 

IRIS MURDOCH 1919 -1999

" The Artist must tell the truth about something he has understood”

Existentialists and Mystics, 1997.

Iris Murdoch was born in Dublin in 1919.    Following the Irish troubles, the family moved to Chiswick, near London, and her father obtained work as a civil servant.  Iris’s talents were recognised by her father, who at some sacrifice, sent her to Badminton School.  She studied Greats at Oxford between 1938 and 1942.  In the latter years of the war, she helped with the UN Rehabilitation and Relief Association in Belgium and Austria.

Iris Murdoch returned to England to teach philosophy at Oxford University, becoming a Fellow of St. Anne’s College. In 1952, she met and subsequently married John Bayley, the writer and critic.

Murdoch's published writing spans over 40 years.  Her first novel, "Under the Net", was published in 1954.  Among the awards she received:   The James Tait Memorial Prize, the Whitbread Literary Award and the Booker Prize.  She enjoyed the unique achievement of being shortlisted for the Booker Prize no fewer than six times.  In 1987, she was made a Dame of the British Empire.

In addition to her 26 novels, Iris Murdoch wrote several  philosophical works and a number of plays.  She wrote the libretto for an opera, "The Servants", by William Matthias and has published a volume of poetry, "A Year of Birds",,  illustrated by her friend, Reynolds Stone.  Her love of art was reflected in the choice of the many distinguished artists who designed  jacket designs and vignettes for her novels, including John Craxton, Tom Philiips, John Sergeant and Reynolds Stone. Iris Murdoch's novels are concerned with moral and philosophical matters. Many have a spiritual, almost mystical quality, but are also accessible and relevant. Her masterpieces are generally considered to be "The Bell "(1958), "The Black Prince" (1973) and the Booker Prizewinning novel, "The Sea, The Sea" (1978).

 John Bayley, in his moving memoir, "Iris",  describes her as “religious without religion”The  Oscar winning film "Iris"  is based on the memoir.



home