Items belonging to Iris Murdoch presented by Audi Bayley

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

Items belonging to Iris Murdoch presented by Audi Bayley. These items were from Iris Murdoch's former home in Charlbury Road and include letters written by Iris Murdoch to Borys and Audi Villers [later Audi Bayley], a planning notebook for Jackson's Dilemma, and a range of objects. Includes:

  • Large bust of Iris Murdoch mounted on marble
  • Iris Murdoch's teddy bear 'Jimbo'
  • Painting by Iris Murdoch 1941
  • Tapestry by Iris Murdoch of fish with the initials IM and JB
  • Gold edged bowl
  • 5 stones and 9 Asian religious figurines / icons from Murdoch's writing desk
  • Letters from Iris Murdoch to Audi Bayley and her first husband Boris Villers
  • Green box containing brooch- appears to be enamelled George IV shilling from 1820s
  • 4 replica medieval icons mounted on wood
  • Framed photographs from Iris Murdoch's study of Murdoch as a child and Murdoch's parents
  • 3 Canadian stone figurines depicting an owl, a penguin and a seal
  • 2 stone figurines of a cow and a lion, with painted and gilded details
  • 11 dress necklaces worn by Murdoch and kept in her study
  • A notebook with planning notes by Murdoch for the novel 'Jackson's Dilemma'

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

Conditions Governing Access

Items can be viewed by appointment. Please email Kingston University Archives and Special Collections to make an appointment

Acquisition Information

Items have been kindly presented by Audi Bayley

Physical Characteristics and/or Technical Requirements

Some items in the collection are fragile or have sharp edges. Careful handling required. For some items gloves will need to be worn.

Custodial History

Items have been held in Iris Murdoch's former home in Charlbury Road before being presented to Kingston University Archives and Special Collections

Related Material

Other material belonging to Iris Murdoch can be found in KUAS202