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Murdoch, Iris (1919-1999): Letters from Iris Murdoch to Stephen Gardiner

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 2108 KUAS130
Held at: Kingston University
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Full title: Murdoch, Iris (1919-1999): Letters from Iris Murdoch to Stephen Gardiner
Date(s): [1973-1990]
Level of description: Collection (fonds)
Extent: 2 files
Name of creator(s): Murdoch | Dame | Jean Iris | 1919-1999 | author
Gardiner | Stephen | 1924-2007 | architect


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 Alzheimer's disease, the first effects of which she had attributed to writer's block. She died in 1999.

Stephen Gardiner was a British architect, much of whose work focused on schools and other public buildings. He also taught architecture.


Scope and content/abstract:

Two folders of letters from Iris Murdoch to her friend Stephen Gardiner dating from [1973-1990]. Gardiner was an architect known for his work on public buildings, and some of the letters from Murdoch discuss their shared love for art and architecture.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

Original order, the letters are split into two files.

Conditions governing access:

Letters are available to view by appointment in the Archives and Special Collections. Appointments should be made at least 24 hours in advance by emailing

Conditions governing reproduction:

The letters can not be copied from at present.

Finding aids:

Letters are not currently catalogued. Once they have been catalogued the listings on our online catalogue at

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Letters were presented by Joan Scotson.

Allied Materials

Related material:

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:

Rules or conventions:

Date(s) of descriptions:
30 Jun 2015

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