Iris Murdoch's Diaries, Poetry Notebooks and Other Documents

Scope and Content

Material created and held by author and philosopher Iris Murdoch, including 14 volumes of personal journals / diaries, notebooks of poetry (much of which is previously unpublished), planning notebooks for philosophy writing and the novel 'Jackson's Dilemma', and loose papers including items relating to the Gifford Lectures and material held by Murdoch in a wooden chest. Also includes artworks and objects from Iris Murdoch's study in her former home in Charlbury Road, Oxford.

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.


Material has been subdivided into series based on activities

Conditions Governing Access

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

Acquisition Information

Material has kindly been presented by Audi Bayley

Related Material

Other material formerly belonging to Iris Murdoch and presented by Audi Bayley can be found in collection with reference KUAS191