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The University of Iowa Libraries

Guide to the Iris Murdoch Papers

Collection Overview

Date Span: 1960-2000
Creator: Murdoch, Iris (1919-1999)
Extent: 26.00 linear feet.
Collection Number: MSC0212
Repository: University of Iowa Special Collections
Summary: British writer and philosopher. Manuscripts for most of her novels, plays, and poetry, primarily handwritten drafts in notebooks.

Access: This collection is open for research.

Use: Copyright restrictions may apply; please consult Special Collections staff for further information.

Acquisition: The University of Iowa Libraries has been purchasing Dame Murdoch's manuscripts since the nineteen-sixties.

Preferred Citation: Iris Murdoch Papers, The University of Iowa Libraries, Iowa City, Iowa.

Repository: University of Iowa Special Collections
Address: Special Collections Department
University of Iowa Libraries
Iowa City, IA 52242
Phone: 319-335-5921
Curator: Greg Prickman
Email: lib-spec@uiowa.edu
Website: http://www.lib.uiowa.edu/sc

Iris Murdoch, novelist and philosopher, was born in Dublin on July 15, 1919, and was educated at Oxford University and later at Cambridge. In 1948 she became a Fellow of St. Anne's College, Oxford. Her first novel, Under the Net, was published in 1954. This book was followed by many others and Murdoch won most of the major literary awards, including the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, the Whitbread Prize, and the Booker Prize. She also wrote plays, poetry, and philosophical works. In 1956 she married John Bayley, an Oxford don and literary critic. She was created a Dame of the British Empire in 1987. She died February 8, 1999, in Oxford.

Since the 1960s the University of Iowa has been collecting her books and manuscripts. The papers of Iris Murdoch consist of twenty six linear feet of her literary manuscripts, which are arranged alphabetically by book title. The manuscripts include mostly handwritten drafts of her novels (usually in notebooks), along with some typescripts, galley proofs, working notes and correspondence. Some of the books included are: An Accidental Man, The Bell, The Nice and the Good, The Sea, the Sea, and A Word Child. There is also correspondence between Iris Murdoch and John Fletcher.
The Center for Iris Murdoch Studies at Kingston University

Browse by Series:
Series 1: MANUSCRIPTS
Series 2: THE GIFFORD LECTURES
Series 3: CORRESPONDENCE
Series 4: MISCELLANEOUS
Series 5: FOREIGN LANGUAGE EDITIONS OF MURDOCH'S WORKS

  • Series 1: MANUSCRIPTS
  • Sub-Series: An Accidental Man
  • Box 1:
  • Holograph notebook, nos. 1-14 - 1970
  • Later holograph draft pp. 1-150
  • Box 2:
  • Later holograph draft pp. 151-734
  • Sub-Series: "Art should make us happy…"
  • Box 2:
  • One sheet document
  • Sub-Series: The Bell
  • Box 2:
  • Holograph notebook, nos. 1-7 - 1957
  • Box 3:
  • Holograph notebooks, nos. 8-11
  • Later holograph draft (4 folders)
  • Sub-Series: The Black Prince
  • Box 3:
  • Holograph notebooks, nos. 1-2
  • Box 4:
  • Holograph notebooks, nos. 3-14
  • Later holograph draft, pp. 1-150 - 1971
  • Box 5:
  • Later holograph draft, pp. 151-716
  • Reader's report by Marshall Best and a second copy with Murdoch's comments. - 1972
  • Sub-Series: The Book and the Brotherhood
  • Box 6:
  • Holograph notebooks, nos. 1-8 - 1985
  • Box 7:
  • Holograph notebooks, nos. 9-15 - 1985-1986
  • Later holograph draft, pp. 1-150 - 1986
  • Box 8:
  • Later holograph draft, pp. 151-752
  • Sub-Series: Bruno's Dream
  • Box 8:
  • Holograph notebooks, nos. 1-4 - 1967
  • Box 9:
  • Holograph notebooks, nos 5-8 - 1967
  • Later holograph draft, pp. 1-436
  • Sub-Series: The Darkness of Practical Reason
  • Box 9:
  • Handwritten manuscript, or possible review for The Darkness of Practical Reason
  • Sub-Series: A Fairly Honourable Defeat
  • Box 9:
  • Holograph notebooks, nos. 1-3 - 1968
  • Box 10:
  • Holograph notebooks, nos. 4-11 - 1968
  • Later holograph draft, pp. 1-450 - 1968
  • Box 11:
  • Later holograph draft, pp. 451-600
  • Marked typescript
  • Gallery proofs
  • Box 12:
  • Gallery proofs
  • Sub-Series: A Flight from the Enchanter
  • Box 12:
  • Holograph hotebooks, nos. 1-6
  • Later holograph draft, pp. 1-150
  • Box 13:
  • Later holograph draft, pp. 151-507
  • Sub-Series: Freedom of the Individual
  • Box 13:
  • Holograph draft of a book review
  • Sub-Series: The Good Apprentice
  • Box 13:
  • Holograph notebooks, nos. 1-5 - 1983
  • Box 14:
  • Holograph notebooks, nos. 6-12
  • Later holograph draft, pp. 1-185
  • Box 15:
  • Later holograph draft, pp. 186-986
  • Sub-Series: Henry and Cato
  • Box 15:
  • Holograph notebooks, nos. 1-3 - 1974
  • Box 16:
  • Holograph notebooks, nos. 4-12 - 1974
  • Later holograph draft, pp. 1-150 - 1975
  • Box 17:
  • Later holograph draft, pp. 151-703
  • Sub-Series: A House of Theory: A Study in Moral Energy
  • Box 17:
  • Essay
  • Sub-Series: The Idea of Perfection
  • Box 17:
  • Holograph drafts of the article
  • Sub-Series: The Italian Girl, a novel
  • Box 17:
  • Holograph notebooks, nos. 1-5 - 1963
  • Box 18:
  • Later holograph draft - 1963
  • Sub-Series: The Italian Girl, a play
  • Box 18:
  • Holograph notebooks, three drafts - 1964
  • Playbill Programme from Wyndam's Theatre, February 1, 1968
  • Sub-Series: A Lovely Woman is a Work of Nature
  • Box 18:
  • Handwritten notes
  • Sub-Series: Ludvig…
  • Box 18:
  • Murdoch's draft of a blurb for a novel
  • Sub-Series: The Magic Brothel
  • Box 18:
  • Typed draft
  • Sub-Series: Morality and the Bomb
  • Box 18:
  • From Women Ask Why: An Intelligent Woman's Guide to Nuclear Disarmament, London: The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, 1962?
  • Sub-Series: The Nice and the Good
  • Box 18:
  • Holograph notebooks, nos. 1-6 - 1966
  • Box 19:
  • Holograph notebooks, nos. 7-11
  • Later holograph draft, pp. 1-559
  • Sub-Series: A Note on the Novel in the New Utilitarian Age: Existentialists and Mystics
  • Box 20:
  • Holograph drafts of an essay
  • Sub-Series:
  • Box 20:
  • Holograph notebooks, nos. 1-9 - 1978
  • Box 21:
  • Holograph notebooks, nos. 10-14 - 1978
  • Later holograph draft, pp. 1-300
  • Box 22:
  • Later holograph draft, pp. 301-978
  • Sub-Series: On 'God' and 'Good'
  • Box 22:
  • Typed draft for the Study Group on Foundations of Cultural Unity - 1966
  • Sub-Series: The Philosopher's Pupil
  • Box 22:
  • Holograph notebooks, nos. 1-3 - 1980
  • Box 23:
  • Holograph notebooks, nos. 4-10 - 1980-1981
  • Box 24:
  • Holograph notebooks, nos. 11-16 - 1981
  • Later holograph draft, pp. 1-300 - 1981
  • Box 25:
  • Later holograph draft, pp. 301-1083 - 1981
  • Sub-Series: Miscellaneous poetry
  • Box 25:
  • Poems published in the Boston University Journal - 1975
  • Sub-Series: The Red and the Green
  • Box 25:
  • Holograph notebooks, nos. 1-2 - 1964
  • Box 26:
  • Holograph notebooks, nos. 3-7 - 1964
  • Later holograph draft, pp. 1-485 - 1964
  • Sub-Series: Reynolds Stone Memorial Service Eulogy
  • Box 27:
  • Typed eulogy from St. James, Picadilly (n.d.)
  • Sub-Series: The Sacred and Profane Love Machine
  • Box 27:
  • Holograph notebooks, nos. 1-13 - 1972
  • Editor's comments (Marshall Best) on Murdoch's blurb
  • Box 28:
  • Later holograph draft, pp. 1-628 - 1972
  • Sub-Series: Salvation of Words
  • Box 28:
  • Typescript of a speech - 1972
  • Sub-Series: The Sandcastle
  • Box 28:
  • Holograph notebook, nos. 1-6 - 1955
  • Box 29:
  • Holograph notebooks, nos. 7-8
  • Later holograph draft, pp. 1-495
  • Sub-Series: Sartre: Romantic Rationalist
  • Box 29:
  • Holograph draft
  • Sub-Series: The Sea, the Sea
  • Box 29:
  • Holograph notebooks, nos. 1-4 (Together with a xerox copy of notebook no. 1)
  • Box 30:
  • Holograph notebook, nos. 5-14 - 1976
  • Later holograph draft, pp. 1-42 - 1976
  • Box 31:
  • Later holograph draft, pp. 143-947
  • Discarded holograph pages
  • Sub-Series: The Servants and the Snow
  • Box 31:
  • Holograph notebooks (Draft one of the play) - 1969
  • Box 32:
  • Holograph notebooks (Draft two of the play) - 1969
  • Later holograph draft of the play - 1969
  • Sub-Series: A Severed Head
  • Box 32:
  • Working notes - 1960
  • Holograph notebooks, nos. 1-6 - 1960
  • Later holograph draft, pp. 1-150 - 1960
  • Box 33:
  • Later holograph draft, pp. 151-308 - 1960
  • The Manuscript of Iris Murdoch's *A Severed Head* by Frank Baldanza
    From the Journal of Modern Literature, pp. 75-90. Offprint
  • Sub-Series: Something Special
  • Box 33:
  • Holograph draft
  • Sub-Series: The Three Arrows
  • Box 33:
  • Holograph draft of the play
  • Sub-Series: The Time of Angels
  • Box 33:
  • Holograph notebooks, nos. 1-9 - 1965
  • Box 34:
  • Later holograph draft, 1-386 - 1965
  • Sub-Series: Under the Net
    Original finding aid unclear, draft two may be missing, or named incorrectly and is in fact in the box under a different name.
  • Box 34:
  • Holograph notebook
  • Draft one, nos. 1-7 (Incomplete) - 1952
  • Box 35:
  • Holograph notebooks, draft two nos.1-7
    Possibly missing as of 1/28/2014
  • Sub-Series: The Unicorn
  • Box 35:
  • Holograph notebooks, nos. 1-9 - 1961
  • Later holograph draft, pp. 1-402 - 1961
  • Sub-Series: An Unofficial Rose
  • Box 36:
  • Working notes - 1960
  • Holograph notebooks, nos. 1-9 - 1960
  • Later holograph draft, pp. 1-150 - 1961
  • Box 37:
  • Later holograph draft, pp. 151-449
  • Miscellaneous pages of revision
  • Sub-Series: The Voice of Philosophy in the World of Today
  • Box 37:
  • Holograph draft of an essay
  • Sub-Series: A World Child
  • Box 38:
  • Holograph notebooks, nos. 1-12 - 1973
  • Box 39:
  • Holograph notebooks, no. 13
  • Later holograph draft, pp. 1-727
  • Miscellaneous pages of revision
  • Editor's summary with a description of the book, jacket suggestions and an excerpt from John Updike's review - 1975
  • Sub-Series: The Green Knight
  • Box 39:
  • Holograph notebooks, no. 1 - 1989
  • Box 40:
  • Holograph notebooks, nos. 2-9 - 1989-1990
  • Box 41:
  • Holograph notebooks, nos. 10-11 - 1990
  • Second holograph draft, pp. 1-698
  • Box 42:
  • Second holograph draft, photocopy with corrections and revisions, pp. 1-698
  • Sub-Series: Jackson's Dilemma
  • Box 42:
  • Holograph notebooks, nos. 1-2 - 1993
  • Box 43:
  • Holograph notebooks, nos. 3, 5-10
    Notebook no. 4 is missing
  • Second holograph draft with corrections and revisions, pp. 1-168
  • Box 44:
  • Second holograph draft with corrections and revisions, pp. 169-389
  • Holograph notes about "Sequence"
  • Sub-Series: The Message to the Planet [Original Title: The Language of the Planet]
  • Box 44:
  • Holograph notebooks, nos. 1-6 - 1987
  • Box 45:
  • Holograph notebooks, nos. 7-15 - 1987
  • Box 46:
  • Second holograph draft with corrections and revisions, pp. 1-778
  • Series 2: THE GIFFORD LECTURES
  • Box 1:
  • Holograph notes
  • Holograph notes and precis from a close reading of Heidegger's Introduction to Metaphysics
  • Gifford Lecture I, holograph draft with corrections and revisions, pp. 1-883
  • Gifford Lecture II, holograph draft with corrections and revisions, pp. 1-680
  • Box 2:
  • Incomplete holograph drafts with corrections and revisions, pp. 879-1060
  • Miscellaneous pages of holograph draft with corrections and revisions
  • "Heidegger" holograph draft with corrections and revisions
  • "Plato" holograph draft with corrections and revisions
  • How to Prove the Existence of God, "Groningen" text with corrected carbon typescript with holograph title-page and notes
    A version of this text is found in the Metaphysics as a Guide to Morals
  • How to Prove the Existence of God, "The Ontological Proof" corrected carbon tyescript
  • How to Prove the Existence of God, "Structuralism" carbon typscript
    Two copies
  • How to Prove the Existence of God, Carbon typescripts with holograph corrections and revisions
    Five drafts, some incomplete
  • Series 3: CORRESPONDENCE
  • Box 1:
  • To Miss Batchelor in with Steeple Ashton thanks her for, and commenting on, her article in Books at Iowa, on a novel of Murdoch's, Under the Net - 1968
    Photocopy
  • To Enid Bagnold. Oxford. [n.y.]
    Three letters and a postcard
  • To Baker. Oxford. Murdoch regrets that she lost the photostat; agreeing to let him publish one of her stories; postscript asking that he postpone publishing her work (April 7, n.y.)
  • To [David] Beams, thanking Mr. Beams for his letter concerning Bruno's Dream - 1969?
  • To [David] Beams. Oxford. Thanking Mr. Beams for his letters; mentioning Simone Weil, Leslie Stephens, Shakespeare, and Jane Austen. September 17 and October - 1969?
  • To [David] Beams. Steeple Aston, Oxford. Seven letters
  • Thanking him for the letters. February 21 - 1969
  • Concerning whether or not T.S. Eliot knows of her work. June 25 - 1972
  • Thanking him for sending a journal; inquiring as to his teaching post and work. July 29 - 1973
  • Discussing oriental philosophy and influences with regard to Bruno's Dream. April 4, [n.d]
    Photocopy
  • Congratulating him on the completion of his thesis; hoping that he will find a publisher. June 2, [n.d]
    Photocopy
  • Thanking him for his letter; disagreeing with some of his comments about her writing. [n.d]
  • Thanking him for sending his article about Muhammad Ali. [n.d]
    Photocopy, contains an incomplete copy of the article
  • Correspondence. Primarily correspondence between Murdoch and her American editor at Viking Press, Marshall Best, regarding her publications
    Twenty items
  • To [Ronald Duncan]. Steeple Aston, Oxford [.n.d.] Apologizing for not being able to contribute to his book
  • To Mr. Findletter. Steeple Aston, Oxford. June 5. [n.y.] Regretting that she is unable to write anything for him
  • Correspondence between Murdoch and John Fletcher - 1977-1994
    Includes undated material
  • To Michael Goldman. Concerning the meaning of her book, The Unicorn. May 23 - 1967
    Contains a carbon copy of a handwritten letter from Goldman
  • Answers to questions by Ronald Hayman
  • To Miss Kenny. Oxford. Giving permission to publish the Reynolds Stone eulogy address given by Murdoch. August 12, [n.y.]
  • To Margaret. Oxford. Three Letters
  • Accepting her invitation to speak. February 26, [n.y.]
  • Arranging a time for her to talk. April 25, [n.y.]
  • Confirming the lecture arrangements. September 19, [n.y.]
  • To Ann Marreco
  • Paris. Thanking her for sending Boat Boy. [n.d.]
  • Aurangabad. Thanking her for the letter [n.d.]
  • Cambridge. Regretting having missed her; mentioning that she gave Wignall's address to a student [n.d.]
  • Harcourt Terrace S.W. London. Inviting her for drinks [n.d.]
  • London. Thanking her for the letter; inviting her for drinks celebrating the Labor victory [n.d.]
  • No location. Wishing her step-daughter a speedy recovery; hoping to meet after Christmas [n.d.]
  • Steeple Aston. Hoping her mother and Sarah are better; expressing interest in her novel [n.d.]
  • Steeple Aston. Thanking her for the letter; urging her to send her typescript to Viking [n.d.]
  • Steeple Aston. Accepting a dinner invitation [n.d.]
  • No location. Concerning their recent meeting; enclosing a belated birthday gift [n.d.]
  • Steeple Aston. Discussing dishwashers; appreciating her re-reading of Under the Net [n.d.]
  • Oxford. Discussing how much she enjoyed Boat Boy and the characterizations. January 5, [n.y.]
  • Steeple Aston. Regarding the leasing of the London flat. April 25 [n.y.]
  • Steeple Aston. Thanking her for the wonderful weekend holiday. May 22 [n.y.]
  • Steeple Aston. Congratulating her on her recent marriage; wishing her success on her novel. October 3 - 1961
  • Oxford. Thanking her for letting Murdoch read her novel; accepting a dinner invitation - 1961
  • Steeple Aston. Congratulating her on her novel; discussing the characters at length. May 15 - 1962
  • Helsinki. Regarding her trip. June 17 - 1963
  • Stratford, Ontario. Comparing Canada to Ireland. August 8 - 1963
  • Apologizing for not having written sooner; hoping to visit her in Ireland soon. February 10 - 1961
  • Oxford. Regretfullly declining an invitation; hoping to make other arrangements. February 19 - 1964
  • Steeple Aston. Anticipating their visit; discussing the itinerary. April 12 - 1964
  • Steeple Aston. Concerning Caroline's automobile accident; hoping to meet soon. September 9 - 1965
  • Oxford. Giving bus directions for Oxford. September 26 - 1964
  • Steeple Aston. Mentioning a recent trip to the USA and Italy; accepting an invitation. September 16 - 1966
  • Oxford. Conerning their recent meeting. March 16 - 1972
  • Steeple Aston. Encouraging her to send The Spanish Princess to Viking for publication. Autumn - 1972
  • Steeple Aston. Congratulating her on the book. February - 1973
  • Steeple Aston. Thanking her for the luncheon party; mentioning her new novel. January 6 - 1974
  • Steeple Aston. Congratulating her on having a publisher; suggesting that she submit some of her earlier novels; discussing her latest work. February 14 - 1974
  • To Eddie McCrory. Concerning McCrory's poetry; mentioning a foreword she is writing for him
    Fourteen items, includes a photograph of Iris Murdoch
  • To [Jeffrey] Meyers. Steeple Aston, Oxford. Thanking him for his letter and review; mentioning another review; inviting him to write and visit with her when in London
  • To Andrew Mylett. Steeple Aston, Oxford. Regretting that she is unable to write the Poe review; asking if he needs a good secretary. July 13 - 1970
  • To Mr. Norbutt. Steeple Aston, Oxford. Discussing the writer's art and what it means; advising young people to study the great books and poetry of the 19th century along with history, foreign languages and mathematics. January 23, [n.y.]
  • To Charles Osborne. One undated letter inviting him to join them, and another from Steeple Aston, February 16, 1969, suggesting Chatto and Windus for a photograph of her.
    Includes a carbon letter from Osborne to Murdoch
  • To Timothy O'Keefe. Steeple Aston, Oxford. Concerning her reticence to write on any more political matters at the moment. September 28, [n.y.]
  • To Frank Paluka. Regarding the disposition of her manuscripts
    Twenty-four items
  • To Derek Stanford. Oxford. Thanking him for his letter and review praising Bruno's Dream. February 16, [n.y.]
  • To Mladen Turcinovic. Two postcards thanking him for letters; one letter in which Murdoch states that she will try to have her publisher find out of print copies for Turcinovic. - 1986
    Three items
  • To Mr. Wall. Oxford. One letter from June 29 [n.y.] thanking him for a copy of XX Century, regretting that she will be unable to contribute to his women's number and another letter from August 22 [n.y.] declining an invitation to attend a conference in Rome
  • Series 4: MISCELLANEOUS
  • Box 1:
  • Huesal, Barbara Stevens. Patterned Aimlessness: Iris Murdoch's Novels of the 1970s and 1980s. Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press
    Book jacket and press materials
  • Articles about Iris Murdoch - 1959-2004
  • Articles concerning Iris Murdoch's diagnosis of Alzheimer's Disease - 1997-1999
  • Obituaries and eulogies - 1999
  • Reviews of books about Iris Murdoch - 1998-2003
  • Reviews of books authored by Iris Murdoch - 1962-1991
  • Postcard of Tom Phillips portrait of Dame Iris Murdoch - 1984-1986
  • Miscellaneous
  • Series 5: FOREIGN LANGUAGE EDITIONS OF MURDOCH'S WORKS
  • Box 1:
  • The Book and the Brotherhood - 1990
    French edition, Gallimard paperback