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Murdoch, Iris (1919-1999): Letter to Ana Olos

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 2108 KUAS35
Held at: Kingston University
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Full title: Murdoch, Iris (1919-1999): Letter to Ana Olos
Date(s): 1993
Level of description: collection
Extent: 2 items
Name of creator(s): Murdoch | Dame | Jean Iris | 1919-1999 | author x Murdoch | Iris


Administrative/Biographical history:

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 Iris Murdoch, 1993, comprising a letter of thanks to Ana Olos for her suggestion that Murdoch write her biography but turning her down: 'Alas I have very little time left and to tell your story well would take a lot of time, I am very sorry. I have little time to write my own work'. The collection also contains a copy of Ana Olos' (Psycho)analytical approach to a case of reading therapy, Hungarian Journal of English and American Studies 4.1-2 1998.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

Arranged as set out in Scope and Content.

Conditions governing access:

Open. Please contact the archivist to make an appointment.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Contact archive for information concerning reproduction at

Finding aids:

No additional finding aids currently exist.

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Acquired in 2006.

Allied Materials

Related material:


Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:
Sources: 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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