Jean Iris Murdoch (MUR-dok) was the daughter of Anglo-Irish parents, Wills John Hughes Murdoch and Irene Alice Richardson. She was educated in England at Badminton School, Bristol, and then at Somerville College, Oxford, from which she graduated in 1942 with honors in classics. What followed were two two-year stints in, first, the British Treasury and, then, London, Belgium, and Austria doing relief work with war refugees for the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration. The exiles, refugees, and rootless characters in her novels probably originated from that experience.
After studying philosophy at the University of Cambridge for a year (a visa to study in the United States was denied Murdoch because of her...
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Jean Iris Murdoch was born in Dublin, Ireland, on July 15, 1919, to Anglo-Irish parents, Wills John Hughes Murdoch and Irene Alice Richardson. The family later moved to London, where Murdoch attended the Froebel Education Institute; she finished her secondary education at the Badminton School, Bristol, in 1937. From 1938 to 1942, she attended Somerville College at Oxford University, studying classical literature, ancient history, and philosophy. After obtaining a first-class honors degree, she worked from 1942 to 1944 as the assistant principal in the British Treasury, and from 1944 to 1946 she served as an administrative officer with the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration in England, Austria, and Belgium....
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Jean Iris Murdoch (MUR-dok) was born in Dublin, Ireland, on July 15, 1919, the only child of Anglo-Irish parents. Her mother, Irene Alice Richardson, came from a Dublin family. She had a beautiful soprano voice and had trained to be an opera singer, but she gave up her ambitions when she married a man of County Down sheep-farming people, Wills John Hughes Murdoch. It proved to be a successful marriage. Iris Murdoch was reared in London from the age of nine but returned to Ireland on holidays during a childhood that she often described as happy. In her latter years, she expressed a somewhat different view of her childhood: “I feel as I grow older that we were wanderers, and I’ve only recently realized that I’m a kind of exile,...
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The novels of Iris Murdoch comprise a rich chronicle of the manners of the mid-and late twentieth century British upper-middle classes. Although considered a realistic writer, she is not afraid to take risks. In the carefully ordered, stable worlds she creates, the unpredictability of her characters stands out in bold relief. Saints and sinners, martyrs and mystics, villains and holy fools stumble toward an ideal of love in a modern age of terrors. Murdoch employs extremes of arbitrary coincidence, melodramatic manipulation of plot, and temporal compression to depict characters struggling for a vision of goodness in a secular world.