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Jean Iris Murdoch (1919-1999)

 

1919

(15 July) Born in Phibsborough, Ireland, to Irene Alice and Wills John Hughes Murdoch

1925

Entered the Froebel Demonstration School, Roehampton

1932

Joined Badminton School, Bristol, where she boarded until 1938

1938

Attended university at Somerville College, Oxford, where she studied Classics She graduated in 1942 with first-class honours.

Joined the Communist Party of Great Britain, but left in 1942

1943

Publication: ‘Midnight Hour’, Adelphi, pp. 60-1

Publication: ‘Rebirth of Christianity’, Adelphi, pp.134-5

1944

(June) Began work for the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA)

Publication: ‘Worship and Common Life,’ Adelphi, pp. 134-5

1946

– Left UNRRA.

1947

Began studying philosophy as a postgraduate at Newnham College, Cambridge. She was awarded the Sarah Smithson Studentship in Philosophy

1948

Became a fellow of St. Anne’s College, Oxford, where she taught philosophy until 1963

1950

Publication: ‘The Novelist as Metaphysician’, Listener, 43, pp. 473-6

Publication: ‘The Existentialist Hero,’ Listener,43, pp. 523-4

Publication: review of Simone de Beauvoir,The Ethics of Ambiguity, Mind, 59, pp. 127-8

Publication: review of Jean-Paul Sartre, The Emotions: The Outline of a Theory, Mind, 59, pp. 268-71

1951

Publication: ‘Symposium: Thinking and Language’ (with A. C. Lloyd and Gilbert Ryle), Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume, 25(1), pp. 25-82

1952

Publication: ‘The Existential Political Myth’, Socratic Digest, 5

Publication: ‘Nostalgia for the Particular’, Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, 52, pp. 243-60

1953

Publication: Sartre: Romantic Rationalist(Cambridge: Bowes and Bowes)

1954

Publication: Under The Net(London: Chatto & Windus). Wins the runner-up prize at the Cheltenham Literature Festival

1955

Publication: ‘Philosophy and Beliefs: A Discussion between four Oxford Philosophers’ (with Isaiah Berlin, Stuart Hampshire and Anthony Quinton), Twentieth Century, 157, pp. 495-521

1956

Marries John Bayley, a literary critic and novelist

Publication: ‘Symposium: Vision and Choice in Morality’ (with R. W. Hepburn), Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume, 30, pp. 14-58

Publication: The Flight from the Enchanter: A Story of Love and Power(London: Chatto & Windus)

Publication: ‘Knowing the Void’, review of Simone Weil’s The Notebooks. Spectator, 197, pp. 613-4

Publication: ‘Let Them Philosophise’. Review of S. T. Coleridge, Confessions of an Inquiring Spirit. Spectator

1957

Publication: ‘Something Special’ (short story) in Winter’s Tales 3 (London: MacMillan)

Publication: ‘Metaphysics and Ethics’, in D. F. Pears (ed.), The Nature of Metaphysics, (London: MacMillan), pp. 99-123

Publication: ‘Important Things’. Review of Simone de Beauvoir’s The Mandarins. The Sunday Times

Publication: The Sandcastle (London: Chatto & Windus)

Publication: ‘Hegel in Modern Dress’. Review of Jean-Paul Sartre’s Being and Nothingness. New Statesman, 53, pp. 675-6

Publication: ‘Existentialist Bite’. Review of E. Knight, Literature Considered as Philosophy: The French Example. Spectator

Publication: ‘Concepts or Blood’. Review of Colin Wilson, Religion and the Rebel. Manchester Guardian

1958      

Publication: ‘A Woman’s Don Delight’. In Cyril Ray (ed.), The Compleat Imbiber: An Entertainment(London: Putnam), pp. 193-6

Publication: ‘T. S. Eliot as a Moralist’. In Neville Braybrooke (ed.), T.S. Eliot: A Symposium for His Seventieth Birthday, (London: Rupert Hart-Davis)

Publication: ‘A House of Theory’. In Norman Mackenzie (ed.), Conviction (London: MacGibbon and Kee), pp. 158-62.

Publication: The Bell (London: Chatto & Windus)

Publication: Review of Boris Pasternak, Dr Zhivago.The New Reasoner: A Quarterly Journal of Socialist Humanism, 7, pp. 140-2

1959

Publication: ‘Simone, Antoine and Anne’. A review of Simone de Beauvoir’s Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter. The Sunday Times

Publication: ‘The Sublime and the Good’. Chicago Review, 13(3), pp. 42-55

Publication: ‘The Sublime and the Beautiful Revisited’. Yale Review, 49, pp. 247-71

1960      

Publication: ‘Negative Capability’. Adam International Review, pp. 172-3

Publication: ‘Words and Ideas’. A review of Ernest Gellner,Words and Things. The Partisan Review

1961

Publication: ‘Against Dryness: A Polemical Sketch,’ Encounter, 16(1), pp. 16-20

Publication: A Severed Head (London: Chatto & Windus)

1962      

Publication: An Unofficial Rose (London: Chatto & Windus)

Publication: ‘Mass, Might and Myth’. A review of Elias Canetti, Crowds and Power. The Spectator, pp. 337-9

1963

Begins teaching one day a week in the General Studies department of the Royal College of Art

Publication: The Unicorn (London: Chatto & Windus)

The play of A Severed Head, adapted by J.B Priestley, opens in Bristol

1964

Becomes the first woman to address the Philosophical Society at Trinity College Dublin

Publication: ‘The Moral Decision about Homosexuality’, Man and Society, 7, pp. 3-6

Publication: ‘The Idea of Perfection’, The Yale Review, 53(3), pp. 342-80

Publication: The Italian Girl (London: Chatto & Windus)

1965

Publication: The Red and The Green (London: Chatto & Windus)

1966

Publication: ‘The Darkness of Practical Reason’. Review of Stuart Hampshire, The Freedom of the Individual. Encounter, pp. 46-9

Publication: The Time of the Angels (London: Chatto & Windus)

1967

The play of The Italian Girl, adapted by James Saunders, opens in Bristol

Publication: ‘Political Morality’, Listener, pp. 353-4

1968

Publication: The Nice and the Good (London: Chatto & Windus)

1969

Publication: Bruno’s Dream (London: Chatto & Windus)

1970

Publication: A Fairly Honourable Defeat (London: Chatto & Windus)

Publication: The Sovereignty of Good (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul)

Publication: ‘Existentialists and Mystics’ in Essays and Poems Presented to Lord David Cecil (London: Constable)

A Severed Headis released as a film

1971

Publication: An Accidental Man (London: Chatto & Windus)

1972

The play, The Three Arrows, opens in Cambridge, starring Sir Ian McKellan

Publication: ‘Salvation by Words’, New York Review of Books

1973

Publication: The Black Prince (London: Chatto & Windus). Winner of the James Tait Black Memorial Prize

Publication: The Three Arrows & The Servants and the Snow (London: Chatto & Windus)

1974

Publication: The Sacred and Profane Love Machine (London: Chatto & Windus). Winner of the Whitbread Literary Award for Fiction

1975

Publication: ‘Socialism and Selection’ in C. B. Cox and Rhodes Boyson (eds), Black Paper 1975: The Fight for Education

Publication: A Word Child (London: Chatto & Windus)

1976

Publication: Henry and Cato (London: Chatto & Windus)

1977

Made an Honorary Fellow of Somerville College, Oxford

Publication: The Fire and the Sun: Why Plato Banished the Artists (Oxford: Clarendon Press)

1978

Publication: A Year of Birds (Compton Press)

Publication: The Sea, The Sea (London: Chatto & Windus). Winner of the Booker Prize

1980      

An opera, The Servants, written by the composer William Matthias, and based on Murdoch’s play, The Servants in the Snow, opens at the New Theatre, Cardiff

Publication: Nuns and Soldiers (London: Chatto & Windus)

1982

The Bell is adapted for television

Made a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences

1983

Awarded an honorary D. Litt. by the University of Bath

Publication: The Philosopher’s Pupil (London: Chatto & Windus)

1985

Publication: The Good Apprentice (London: Chatto & Windus). Nominated for a Booker Prize

1986

Made an Honorary Fellow of Newnham College, Cambridge

Publication: Acastos: Two Platonic Dialogues (London: Chatto & Windus)

Publication: ‘Ethics and the Imagination’, The Irish Theological Quarterly, 52, pp. 81-95

1987

Named Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire

Her play, The One Alone, is broadcast on BBC Radio 3

Publication: The Book and the Brotherhood (London: Chatto & Windus)

1989

The play of The Black Prince opens at the Aldwych Theatre, London

Publication: The Message to the Planet (London: Chatto & Windus)

1990

Receives the National Arts Club Medal of Honour for Literature

1992

Publication: Metaphysics as a Guide to Morals (London: Chatto & Windus)

1993

Awarded an honorary D. Litt. by the University of Cambridge

Publication: The Green Knight (London: Chatto & Windus)

1994

Publication of Joanna, Joanna (London: Colophon Press with Old Town Books)

Awarded an honorary D. Litt. by Kingston University

1995

Publication: Jackson’s Dilemma (London: Chatto & Windus)

1997      

Publication: Existentialists and Mystics: Writings on Philosophy and Literature (London: Chatto & Windus)

Publication: Poems by Iris Murdoch, Yozo Moroya and Paul Hullah (Okayama: University Education Press). This is a limited edition book, with only 500 copies published

Awarded the Golden PEN by English PEN for a ‘Lifetime’s Distinguished Service to Literature’

1999

(8 February) Died in Oxford.

 

 

Sarah Lewin (25/10/16)

 

 

 

My name is Sarah Lewin. Last year, during my final year of study for a BA in Philosophy at Durham, I was fortunate enough to begin working on the In Parenthesis project, as a Research Associate. My fundamental task was to compile comprehensive timelines for each of the women studied by the project: Mary Midgley, Philippa Foot, Elizabeth Anscombe, Iris Murdoch and Mary Warnock. These timelines aimed to chronicle all the significant life events and philosophical publications of the women, as well as any details of their interactions with one another. As straightforward as this task initially sounded, compiling the timelines proved to be much more challenging than anticipated. Each of the women were incredibly prolific, with Mary Midgley in particular producing 4-5 philosophical essays and reviews each month, from the early 1970’s, until present. The other four women had similarly staggering bibliographies to contend with, and many hours were spent consolidating this information into cohesive chronologies. Ultimately, I wanted to make the timelines as accurate as possible, and spent a great deal of time tracing each publication back to its original source, in order to ensure that all the bibliographical information presented in my work was correct. Despite being challenging, it was an absolute pleasure to have the opportunity to research these incredible women, and to gain an insight into both their personal, and academic lives. Perhaps the greatest pleasure of all was hearing that Mary Midgley herself had read my chronicle of her life and works, and was able to add a few personal details that were not available through any amount of research. This additional input from Midgley ensures that her completed timeline offers a significantly comprehensive biographical account, and I am confident that the other four timelines are similarly illuminating, and accurate. Above all, the opportunity to do my own research for the In Parenthesis project has really confirmed to me that philosophy is something I would love to continue pursuing. This year I will be returning to Durham to do an MA in philosophy, and my work on the project has undoubtedly been a great factor in the success of my application. I’ve also been very fortunate to receive a scholarship from Durham University to help cover the tuition fees, and again, I am grateful to the In Parenthesis project for putting me in such a strong position for this award.