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Iris Murdoch

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the growing prominence of the philosophy of one of the most celebrated novelists of the 20th century, who developed her ideas in response to WWII.

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the author and philosopher Iris Murdoch (1919 - 1999). In her lifetime she was most celebrated for her novels such as The Bell and The Black Prince, but these are now sharing the spotlight with her philosophy. Responding to the horrors of the Second World War, she argued that morality was not subjective or a matter of taste, as many of her contemporaries held, but was objective, and good was a fact we could recognize. To tell good from bad, though, we would need to see the world as it really is, not as we want to see it, and her novels are full of characters who are not yet enlightened enough to do that.


Anil Gomes
Fellow and Tutor in Philosophy at Trinity College, University of Oxford

Anne Rowe
Visiting Professor at the University of Chichester and Emeritus Research Fellow with the Iris Murdoch Archive Project at Kingston University


Miles Leeson
Director of the Iris Murdoch Research Centre and Reader in English Literature at the University of Chichester

Producer: Simon Tillotson

Available now

54 minutes

Last on

Thu 21 Oct 2021 21:30



Miles Leeson at the University of Chichester

Anne Rowe at the University of Chichester

Anil Gomes at the University of Oxford


John Bayley, Iris: A Memoir of Iris Murdoch (Duckworth, 1998)

Justin Broackes (ed.), Iris Murdoch, Philosopher (Oxford University Press, 2014)

Gary Browning, Why Iris Murdoch Matters (Bloomsbury, 2018)

A.S. Byatt, Degrees of Freedom: The Novels of Iris Murdoch (Vintage, 1994)

Peter J Conradi, Iris Murdoch: A Life (HarperCollins, 2001)

Peter J. Conradi, Iris Murdoch: The Saint and the Artist (HarperCollins, 2001)

Peter J. Conradi, A Writer at War: Iris Murdoch 1935-1945 (Short Books, 2010)

Gillian Dooley (ed.), From A Tiny Corner in the House of Fiction: Conversations with Iris Murdoch (University of South Carolina Press, 2003)

Mark Hopwood and Silvia Panizza (eds.), The Murdochian Mind (Routledge, forthcoming), especially ‘Iris Murdoch: Moral Vision’ by Anil Gomes

Avril Horner and Anne Rowe, Living on Paper: Letters from Iris Murdoch 1939-1995 (Chatto & Windus, 2015)

Priscilla Martin and Anne Rowe, Iris Murdoch: A Literary Life (Palgrave Macmillan, 2010)

Iris Murdoch, The Sovereignty of Good (Routledge, 2001)

Iris Murdoch, Metaphysics as a Guide to Morals (Penguin, 1993)

Anne Rowe, Iris Murdoch: Writers and Their Work (Liverpool University Press, 2019)

Frances White, Becoming Iris Murdoch (Kingston University Press, 2014)


Iris Murdoch Society

The Iris Murdoch Research Centre, University of Chichester

‘Iris Murdoch and the power of love’ by Anil Gomes

Iris Murdoch - Wikipedia


  • Thu 21 Oct 2021 09:00
  • Thu 21 Oct 2021 21:30

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