Letters from Iris Murdoch to Cheryl Bove

Scope and Content

Six letters to Cheryl Bove written by Iris Murdoch. Most discuss information relating to Iris Mudoch's articles and other publications. Cheryl Bove was the co-editor, with John Fletcher, of Iris Murdoch: a descriptive primary and annotated secondary bibliography (New York and London, Garland Publishing, 1994), and these letters are responses to questions they asked while conducting their research. In KUAS/8/6, 23 June [1993], Iris Murdoch writes about whether a great artists can be an imperfect man.

Administrative / Biographical History

Iris Murdoch was born Jean Iris Murdoch 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 the University of Oxford, and after the Second World War she undertook further study at the University of Cambridge. During the war years Murdoch 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 Murdoch had relationships with a number of individuals, including Elias Canetti. She met author and scholar John Bayley while working at Oxford, and they married in 1956. She wrote to a great number of people and maintained friendships in this way.

Later in life Murdoch was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, the first effects of which she had attributed to writer's block. She died in 1999.

Cheryl Bove is an Assistant Professor of English at Ball State University, USA. She was a co-editor of the Iris Murdoch Society Newsletter. These letters were written when Cheryl Bove and John Fletcher were compiling Iris Murdoch: a descriptive bibliography and annotated secondary bibliography (1994).



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