Dame Jean Iris Murdoch was an Irish-British novelist and philosopher. She was made a Dame in 1987 for her contributions to literature.
Murdoch was born in Dublin, Ireland and was an only child. She moved to London with her family when she was only a few weeks old. She was educated in progressive private schools and then went to university at Oxford where she was awarded a first-class honours degree.
After school, Murdoch first went to work at Her Majesty’s Treasury but she left there to work at the UNRRA instead. Working in several locations and a refugee camp, she eventually left the UNRRA and returned to school to study philosophy as a postgraduate. Afterwards, she became a fellow and a teacher at Oxford.
It was at this time that Murdoch began to publish novels. Her first novel, Under theNet, was published in 1954. It was the first novel of many, and she also wrote poetry, philosophical books, and several plays. While her work did very well and won several prizes, it was not acknowledged as a major influence on the writing of the time until much later.
In 1958, Murdoch married John Bayley. Their marriage was considered unusual and was riddled with many publicized affairs. Their marriage lasted until Murdoch’s death.
In 1997, Murdoch was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. She passed away in Oxford in 1999.