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University marks 100-years of acclaimed novelist Iris Murdoch

Iris Murdoch profile picture published in her novels

SCHOLARS from the University of Chichester have marked the centenary of renowned writer Iris Murdoch.

The ninth international conference, held at St Anne’s College, Oxford, was organised by the Iris Murdoch Research Centre, hosted at the University of Chichester under the directorship of Miles Leeson, a senior lecturer in English Literature. It culminated in the dinner on Murdoch’s 100th birthday, at which her biographer and friend, Peter J Conradi, was the after-dinner speaker and Mrs Audi Bayley paid a moving tribute to Iris Murdoch (pictured below).

The Iris Murdoch Research Centre, a collaborative project between Chichester and Kingston universities, studies the history behind the writer’s books to bolster the impact of her award-winning work across British heritage. It emphasises national and international collaboration between scholars by hosting regular events at Chichester focusing on the writer’s milieu and academic areas.

Audience for a philosophy panel

The conference was attended by more than 100 delegates from America, Australia, Brazil, China, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Jersey the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Russia, South Korea, Sweden and Turkey as well as the UK. Up to 68 papers on a wide-range of philosophical and literary aspects of research into Murdoch’s work were presented in parallel panel sessions.

It coincided with a prolific month for the academics at the research centre, who were profiled in a feature-length broadcast by BBC Radio 4’s Openbook programme. Dr Leeson has also authored an article in the Times Higher Education about Murdoch’s continued influence on education.

Murdoch's biographer Peter J

Plenary speakers were the Hungarian-born French philosopher Miklós Vetö, the last PhD student Murdoch supervised at Oxford, Valentine Cunningham from Corpus Christi College, Oxford, and Gillian Dooley from Flinders University in Australia. The actress Annette Badland was in conversation with Anne Rowe, Visiting Professor at the University of Chichester and a concert of ‘Words and Music for Iris’ was arranged by Gillian Dooley, Kent Wennman and Paul Hullah.

An exhibition, Iris Murdoch and Oxford, was on display in the New Council Room at Somerville College and six books on the novelist were launched in the Mary Somerville Room. As a precursor to the conference, Peter Garrard of St George's at the University of London presented his new research into Murdoch's writing and Alzheimer's Disease.

Dr Miles Leeson

A new book celebrating the centenary of Murdoch has been edited by Dr Miles Leeson (above). The collection brings together friends, colleagues, fellow and past students, and those who worked with her to celebrate Iris Murdoch’s life, and mark 100-years since her birth.

To find out more about the Centre at the University of Chichester visit www.chi.ac.uk/iris.