15 of 35 portraits of Iris Murdoch
by Ida Kar
2 1/4 inch square film negative, 1957
Sitterback to top
- Dame (Jean) Iris Murdoch (1919-1999), Novelist and philosopher. Sitter in 35 portraits.
Artistback to top
- Ida Kar (1908-1974), Photographer. Artist associated with 1564 portraits, Sitter in 137 portraits.
This portraitback to top
Kar photographed Murdoch as she worked on the manuscript for The Bell (1958), one of her most popular novels and the first to be influenced by Plato. Murdoch is seen here at Cedar Lodge, Steeple Aston, where she had moved two years before her marriage to writer, critic and fellow Oxford don, John Bayley.
Linked publicationsback to top
- Freestone, Clare (appreciation) Wright, Karen (appreciation), Ida Kar Bohemian Photographer, 2011 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 10 March to 19 June 2011), p. 107 Read entry
Murdoch moved from Dublin to London while still a child and was later educated at Badminton School, Bristol. She graduated with an outstanding first-class degree from Somerville College, Oxford (1942) and studied philosophy at Newnham College, Cambridge (1947-8), before becoming a tutor at Anne's College, Oxford until 1963. Murdoch's first book, Sartre: Romantic Rationalist, was published in 1953 and was followed by her debut novel, Under the Net, a year later. Kar photographed Murdoch as she worked on the manuscript for The Bell (1958), one of her most popular novels and the first to be influenced by Plato (a book on whom can be seen in the foreground). Kar photographed the writer at Cedar Lodge, Steeple Aston, where she had moved two years previously on marrying the author, critic and fellow Oxford don, John Bayley. Murdoch became best known for her novels about political and social questions of good and evil, sexual relationships, morality and the unconscious. Her subsequent novels included A Severed Head (1961), The Unicorn (1963) and the Booker Prize-winning The Sea, The Sea (1978). She was made a Dame in 1987.
- Tinker, Christopher, Speak its Name! - Quotations by and about Gay Men and Women, 2016, p. 177
Placesback to top
- Place made and portrayed: United Kingdom: England, Oxfordshire (sitter's home, Cedar Lodge, Steeple Aston)
Events of 1957back to top
Current affairsHarold Macmillan takes over as Conservative prime minister, manoeuvring Eden out of power after his poor handling of the Suez Crisis the previous year.
The Wolfenden Report recommends that homosexuality should no longer be a criminal offence. It still took ten years, however, before any changes were made to the law on homosexuality with the Sexual Offences Act in 1967.
Art and scienceThe Today Programme is first broadcast on Radio 4. This early morning current affairs programme is known for breaking major stories early, and for its hard-hitting approach and touch interviewing style. Presenters have included: Robert Robinson, Brian Redhead, Libby Purves, Jenni Murray, Sue MacGregor, John Humphrys, Anna Ford and James Naughtie.
InternationalThe Treaty of Rome leads to the formation of the European Economic Community. Officially beginning on 1st January 1958, the EEC established a European Common Market, where goods, services, labour and capital could move freely within the European member countries, and shared policies were agreed for labour, social welfare, agriculture, transport, and foreign trade. The EEC preceded the European Community, and the European Union.
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