Few authors write and subsequently publish their first attempted work, and Iris was no exception. Several novels were started and later discarded (almost certainly destroyed) in the late 1940s and early 1950s. We know very little about any of these save ‘Our Lady of the Bosky Gates’.
Australia’s ‘trickster-poet’ Gwen Harwood (1920-1995), a brilliant and, in her time, controversial figure, was a great admirer of Iris Murdoch, and in 1967 had a chance briefly to meet her.
Serious book collecting isn’t the draw it was for earlier generations, and the biggest prices are still attached to the works of the canonical dead white males (although Dickens can be surprisingly cheap), making Murdoch and some of her contemporaries viable and reasonable to collect. So how do you go about starting a collection of Murdoch’s works? Where do you find them? And, crucially, how much should you pay?
Murdoch’s beer mats point the way to how some of the most dramatic moments of her life were played out in pubs, as indeed they are for many characters in her novels. The names of scores of pubs lie within their pages, for it is to pubs that characters go to weep, to quarrel, to think, to hope, and often to come to conclusions that will destroy their lives.
In this blogpost Arka Basu, the first recipient of the Barbara Stevens Heusel Early-Career Fund, discusses his doctoral work and future research in the UK