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Conradi, Peter (fl 1980s): Research papers

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 2108 KUAS6
Held at: Kingston University
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Full title: Conradi, Peter (fl 1980s): Research papers
Date(s): 1933-2001
Level of description: collection
Extent: 22 boxes
Name of creator(s): Conradi | Peter | fl 1980s | writer


Administrative/Biographical history:

Peter Conradi worked as Iris Murdoch's authorised biographer and was co-executor of her estate. Conradi was a close friend of Murdoch and her husband, John Bayley, in the 1980s and 1990s. Conradi, a Professor of English, wrote his PhD on Murdoch's Platonism and edited her book of essays Existentialists and Mystics: Writings on Literature and Philosophy, published in 2007. Conradi published his autobiography of Murdoch in 2001, titled Iris Murdoch: A life, which was chosen as 'Book of the Year' by critics including Margaret Drabble and P D James.

Dame Jean Iris Murdoch was born on 15 July 1919 in Dublin; later moving with her family to Brook Green, Hammersmith. Murdoch was educated at Froebel Demonstration School at Colet Gardens; Badminton School, Bristol from 1932 and Somerville College Oxford; winning scholarships to both Badminton and Somerville College.

At Oxford, Murdoch was influenced by the classicist, Eduard Fraenkel, and her philosophy tutor Donald MacKinnon and soon joined the Communist Party. Murdoch gained a first in Classics in 1942 and was employed as assistant principal in the Treasury, 1942-1944; later joining the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration, working in London, Brussels and Austria. Murdoch returned to London in 1946, winning a place at Vassar College and a Commonwealth Scholarship, however as she had declared herself a communist on her application for an American visa, her application was denied. Murdoch studied at Newnham College, Cambridge, 1947-1948 and won a philosophy tutorship at St Anne's, Oxford, where she stayed until 1963, she later worked as a lecturer at Royal College of Art for four years.

Murdoch's first book Sartre: Romantic Rationalist was published in 1953 by Bowes and Bowes in a series titled 'Studies in Modern Thought' and her first novel Under the net was accepted for publication. She went on to write many books including The Bell, 1958, which achieved great commercial success and The Red and the Green, 1965, concerning the Easter rising, reflecting her Irish background. Murdoch was appointed DBE in 1987 and presented with an honorary degree from Kingston University in 1993. In 1997 Murdoch was diagnosed as suffering with Alzheimer's disease and died in Oxford on 8 February 1999.

Publications include: Existentialists and Mystics: Writings on Literature and Philosophy, 1997; A Fairly Honourable Defeat, 1970 and Metaphysics as a Guide to Morals, 1992.


Scope and content/abstract:

Papers of Peter Conradi, 1933-2001, comprise research papers compiled during his research for the authorised biography of Iris Murdoch and notably include profiles of people who knew Murdoch including Hans Gunther Adler and Elizabeth Anscombe; Peter Conradi's correspondence with individuals who knew Murdoch, including Miriam Allott and Kenneth Baker MP; notes and transcripts taken during interviews with people who knew Murdoch and audio recordings of some interviews; original manuscripts and drafts of Murdoch's work including drafts and a typescript of the final version of 'Eulogy for Borys Villers (1923-1992)' and secondary resources including photocopies of press cuttings about Iris Murdoch and reviews of her work. The collection also includes research undertaken by Jane Jantet into Murdoch's family tree; correspondence and research relating to Murdoch's time within Froebel School, Badminton School, Somerville College, Oxford and the Royal College of Art; correspondence concerning Murdoch's involvement with the New Left Review; letters received by Iris Murdoch and John Bayley largely concerning Bayley's book Iris: A memoir, 1998 and letters from Murdoch to individuals including Conradi.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

Arranged into the following 19 series: Profiles of people who knew Iris Murdoch; Jane Jantet research correspondence; Peter Conradi research correspondence; Interviews with people who knew Iris Murdoch; Iris Murdoch's writings; Interviews with Iris Murdoch; Articles about Iris Murdoch and her work; Iris Murdoch's Irish background and genealogy; Froebel School; Badminton School; Oxford 1938-1942; Treasury, UNRRA, Cambridge 1943-1948; Oxford 1948-1960s; New Left Review; Royal College of Art; Honorary Degree-Kingston University; John Bayley; Original letters from Iris Murdoch to various people and photocopies of letters from Iris Murdoch to various people.

Conditions governing access:

Open. Please contact the archivist to make an appointment.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Contact archive for information concerning reproduction at

Finding aids:

Detailed hard copy list can be located in the Archives and Special Collections room at Kingston University.

Archival Information

Archival history:

This collection was collated and created by Peter Conradi during the compilation of his biography of Iris Murdoch.

Immediate source of acquisition:

Acquired in 2004.

Allied Materials

Related material:

KUAS17 Conradi, Peter (fl 1980s): Additional material.

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:
Sources: Peter Conradi, Iris Murdoch (1919-1999) (Bernard Quaritch Ltd) and Oxford Dictionary of National Biography online.
Entry compiled by Samantha Velumyl, AIM25 cataloguer.

Rules or conventions:
Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions:
May 2008.

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