Letters from Iris Murdoch to Hal Lidderdale

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

Letters from author and philosopher Iris Murdoch to her friend Hal Lidderdale dating from 1945 to c.1990s. Lidderdale was a friend of Murdoch's from Oxford, and they remained in touch until Lidderdale's death in 1992. Topics covered in the letters include Murdoch's work with the UNRRA (United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Organisation), meeting Jean Paul Sartre, her brief engagement to David Hicks, and her later work and travels.

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.

Hal Lidderdale was a book editor. He met Iris Murdoch while they were students together at the University of Oxford, and they maintained their friendship and correspondence for many years.

Arrangement

Original order

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Other Finding Aids

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Physical Characteristics and/or Technical Requirements

Some of the early letters are in a very fragile condition- careful handling required.

Conditions Governing Use

Letters cannot be copied at this time