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Last Updated: Tuesday, 29 April, 2003, 07:09 GMT 08:09 UK
Dame Iris' book collection for sale
Dame Iris Murdoch
Many of Dame Iris' books contain her scribblings

Novelist Dame Iris Murdoch's library of almost 1,000 books is being put up for sale by her husband four years after her death.

Former Oxford professor John Bayley told The Times it was a painful decision - but he did not have enough room at his house.

Dame Iris assembled the collection over 60 years. It is said to be worth about 150,000.

The couple's lives and Dame Iris' sad decline into Alzheimer's disease were turned into an Oscar-winning film starring Dame Judi Dench and Jim Broadbent in 2001.

This collection paints a vivid picture of a remarkable woman who was a key figure in English life and letters
Rachel Lee

Many of her books are covered with her scribblings, some of them in Greek and Latin.

The collection also includes makeshift bookmarks of pressed flowers and bus tickets.

Mr Bayley, a former Warton Professor of English Literature at Oxford University, married Therese Manus Honningstada three years ago, The Times said.

He told the paper he no longer had enough room to store the books at the couple's house in Oxford.

Bristol-based bookseller Rachel Lee, who will sell the collection at the Antiquarian Book Fair in London in June, said the items should be sold as one lot.


"It's very difficult to put a value on the collection - what makes it significant is her notes, which are closely written and sometimes run to 10 pages," she said.

"It's like a jigsaw. This collection paints a vivid picture of a remarkable woman who was a key figure in English life and letters for a large part of the 20th Century, not only as a novelist but also as a significant and influential thinker."

Dame Iris was renowned as one of the greatest British novelists of the 20th century, writing classics such as The Sea, The Sea and An Accidental Man.

Her complex philosophical novels featured characters who found themselves embroiled in incest, adultery, suicide, murder and madness.

She died in 1999 at the age of 79.

University lecturer and critic Professor John Casey said she was the closest thing Britain had to French philosopher and novelist Jean-Paul Sartre.

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24 Feb 02  |  Entertainment
Iris, Alzheimer's and us
28 Mar 02  |  UK News
One great Dame plays another
30 Nov 01  |  Entertainment

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