Letters from Iris Murdoch to Raymond Queneau

Scope and Content

Letters sent from Iris Murdoch to Raymond Queneau, dating from 1946 to 1975. Murdoch met Queneau will doing war work with the UNRRA, and enjoyed a regular correspondence with the poet. She claimed that she owed much of her writing to her friendship with him.

Topics covered in the letters include Murdoch's early philosophical thought and novel writing, her work with the UNRRA, Queneau's writings and her attempt to translate some of Queneau's work in to English, and their friendship. With some articles collected by Queneau on the work of Iris Murdoch. While the bulk of the letters are in English, the earliest ones are in French.

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.



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Letters cannot be copied at this time

Custodial History

Purchased with the help of grants from: MLA/ V&A Purchase Grant Fund, the National Heritage Memorial Fund, the Breslauer Foundation, the Friends of the National Libraries and donations from members of the Iris Murdoch Society and the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at Kingston University