AIM25 : Click here to go back to the AIM25 homepage
Archives in London and the M25 area

Murdoch, Iris (1919-1999): Letters and Poems from Iris Murdoch to William Wallace Robson

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 2108 KUAS121
Held at: Kingston University
  Click here to find out how to view this collection at ›
Full title: Murdoch, Iris (1919-1999): Letters and Poems from Iris Murdoch to William Wallace Robson
Date(s): [1940-1959]
Level of description: Collection (fonds)
Extent: 20 items
Name of creator(s): Murdoch | Dame | Jean Iris | 1919-1999 | author
Robson | William Wallace | 1923-1993 | scholar and literary critic


Administrative/Biographical history:

Iris Murdoch was born in Dublin, Ireland on 15 Jul 1919. When she was very young Iris and her parents moved to London, England, and Iris studied at Frobel and Badminton Schools. She followed this with studies in classics, ancient history and philosophy at Oxford, and further study at Cambridge. During the war years Iris worked for the Treasury in London, and then joined the UNRRA providing relief in formerly occupied countries in Europe. In 1948 she became a fellow of St Anne's College, Oxford, where she taught and researched philosophy. Iris Murdoch wrote a number of tracts on philosophy, however it is for her novels that she is best known. She wrote 26 novels in total, her first being 'Under the Net' published in 1954. Other notable works include 'The Bell' and 'The Sea, the Sea', for which she won the Booker Prize. Her last novel, 'Jackson's Dilemma', was published in 1995.

In her youth Iris Murdoch had relationships with a number of individuals, including Elias Canetti. She met author and scholar John Bayley while at Oxford, and they married in 1956. She wrote to a great number of people and maintained friendships in this way. Later in life Iris Murdoch was diagnosed with Alzheimers disease, the first effects of which she had attributed to writer's block. She died in 1999.

William Wallace Robson was a scholar and a literary critic. He and Iris Murdoch were engaged to be married for a brief period.


Scope and content/abstract:

Nine letters and eleven poems from Iris Murdoch to William Wallace Robson, to whom she was briefly engaged in the 1940s. Many of the letters and poems are on their relationship.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

Original order, the letters precede the poems.

Conditions governing access:

Letters and poems are available to view in the Archive by appointment. Please contact us at least 24 hours in advance of your appointment by emailing

Conditions governing reproduction:

Letters and poems can not be copied at this time.

Finding aids:

Letters are not currently catalogued. Once they are catalogue listings will be available online at

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Purchased for the Archives and Special Collections by the Iris Murdoch Archives Project at Kingston University

Allied Materials

Related material:

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:

Rules or conventions:

Date(s) of descriptions:
29 Jun 2015

Related Subject Search

* To search for other records with similar subjects, tick any subjects above then click "Run New Search"

Related Personal Name Search

* To search for other records with similar names, tick any names above then click "Run New Search"