IRIS MURDOCH 1919 -1999
" The Artist must tell the truth about
something he has understood"
Existentialists and Mystics, 1997.
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
returned to England to teach philosophy
University, becoming a Fellow of St. Anne's College. In 1952, she met and subsequently married John
Bayley, the writer and critic.
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
In addition to her 26
novels, Iris Murdoch
several philosophical works and a number of plays. She wrote the
libretto for an opera,
by William Matthias and has published a volume of poetry,
"A Year of Birds",, illustrated by her friend,
Reynolds Stone. Her love of art
reflected in the choice of the many distinguished artists who
designed jacket designs and
for her novels, including John Craxton,
Tom Philiips, John Sergeant
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
in his moving memoir,
describes her as "religious without religion". The Oscar winning film "Iris"
is based on the memoir.
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