Iris Murdoch

21 Oct, 2021 100 Philosophy

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.

Play on BBC Sounds website


  • Anil Gomes 3 episodes
    Fellow and Tutor in Philosophy at Trinity College, University of Oxford
  • Anne Rowe No other episodes
    Visiting Professor at the University of Chichester and Emeritus Research Fellow with the Iris Murdoch Archive Project at Kingston University
  • Miles Leeson No other episodes
    Director of the Iris Murdoch Research Centre and Reader in English Literature at the University of Chichester

Reading list

  • Iris: A Memoir of Iris Murdoch
    John Bayley (Duckworth, 1998) Google Books →
  • Iris Murdoch, Philosopher
    Justin Broackes (ed.) (Oxford University Press, 2014) Google Books →
  • Why Iris Murdoch Matters
    Gary Browning (Bloomsbury, 2018) Google Books →
  • Degrees of Freedom: The Novels of Iris Murdoch
    A.S. Byatt (Vintage, 1994) Google Books →
  • Iris Murdoch: A Life
    Peter J Conradi (HarperCollins, 2001) Google Books →
  • Iris Murdoch: The Saint and the Artist
    Peter J. Conradi (HarperCollins, 2001) Google Books →
  • A Writer at War: Iris Murdoch 1935-1945
    Peter J. Conradi (Short Books, 2010)
  • From A Tiny Corner in the House of Fiction: Conversations with Iris Murdoch
    Gillian Dooley (ed.) (University of South Carolina Press, 2003) Google Books →
  • The Murdochian Mind
    Mark Hopwood and Silvia Panizza (eds.) (Routledge, forthcoming) Google Books →
  • Living on Paper: Letters from Iris Murdoch 1939-1995
    Avril Horner and Anne Rowe (Chatto & Windus, 2015)
  • Iris Murdoch: A Literary Life
    Priscilla Martin and Anne Rowe (Palgrave Macmillan, 2010) Google Books →
  • The Sovereignty of Good
    Iris Murdoch (Routledge, 2001) Google Books →
  • Metaphysics as a Guide to Morals
    Iris Murdoch (Penguin, 1993) Google Books →
  • Iris Murdoch: Writers and Their Work
    Anne Rowe (Liverpool University Press, 2019) Google Books →
  • Becoming Iris Murdoch
    Frances White (Kingston University Press, 2014) Google Books →

Related episodes

Programme ID: m0010q90

Episode page:

Auto-category: 100 (Philosophy)

Hello (First sentence from this episode) Hello. Iris Murdoch, 1919 to 1999, was seen in her lifetime as a novelist who was also a philosopher.