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Last Updated: Thursday, 5 June, 2003, 16:14 GMT 17:14 UK
Murdoch's library up for sale
Dame Iris Murdoch
Murdoch died from Alzheimer's in 1999

Novelist Dame Iris Murdoch's personal collection of almost 1,000 books will go on sale for between 125,000 and 150,000 on Thursday.

The books are being sold by the novelist's widower, Professor John Bayley, who said it was "painful" to sell his late wife's library but he had no room for them in his Oxford home.

The money from the sale will create a prestigious scholarship in her name at St Anne's College, Oxford University.

Bayley, who has remarried since Murdoch's death in 1999, wrote a memoir about his first wife's battle with Alzheimer's disease. The book was made into an Oscar-winning film starring Dame Judi Dench, Kate Winslet and Jim Broadbent in 2001.

Bayley is hoping the collection, assembled over a 60-year period, can be bought all together at London Olympia's Antiquarian Book Fair.

"The collection must be sold as a whole because it helps anybody studying Iris Murdoch or her works piece things together. It's like a jigsaw," said Bristol-based bookseller Rachel Lee, who is conducting the sale.

Dame Iris taught at the college and the scholarship will be in her name, Ms Lee said.

Ms Lee added: "I think John had kept things like her novels because of the sentimental value but her philosophy books did not have the same sentimental value."

The British Library and Oxford University's Bodleian Library have been rumoured as possible buyers.

Ted Hughes
Hughes died in 1998
The collection covers a vast number of topics including philosophy, poetry, religion and fiction.

"The majority have her name in and often the place she was living or where she read the book. Many also have pages and pages of closely-written, tiny notes," said Lee.

The book fair, which runs until Sunday, also features the sale of a poem written by Sylvia Plath in 1954 when she was 12 years old.

The 10-line poem, titled King of the Ice, reveals Plath's crush on an ice hockey player at school.

The short work is on sale for 4,500 along with two other poems written by the late poet and a lock of her hair.

Plath committed suicide in 1963. King of the Ice is one of a number of poems kept by Plath's mother, which later passed on to her brother Warren.

A poem written by Plath's husband Ted Hughes when he was at school is also being sold at the fair by RA Gekoski Rare Books.

The Times newspaper reports the three-page nonsense poem, The Zeet Saga or Pale Tale I, emerged after a private collector bought it from Hughes' older brother, Gerald, in Australia.

The late Poet Laureate's second wife, Carol, recently sold his library of more than 6,000 volumes for an undisclosed figure to the Emory University in Atlanta, USA.

Iris Murdoch: Between the lines
02 May 03  |  Newsmakers
Dame Iris' book collection for sale
29 Apr 03  |  Entertainment
The importance of being Iris
24 Feb 02  |  Entertainment
Plath film angers daughter
03 Feb 03  |  Entertainment
Hughes blames drugs for Plath suicide
06 Aug 01  |  Entertainment

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