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Last Updated: Friday, 28 November, 2003, 11:06 GMT
Fears for Murdoch's books
Dame Iris Murdoch
Murdoch died from Alzheimer's in 1999
There are fears a collection of 1,000 books that belonged to novelist Dame Iris Murdoch may leave the country.

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 collection is on sale for 150,000 and there are fears that it may go to a buyer in United States who has offered the asking price.

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

Some academics in England are worried about the loss of what they regard as "a valuable asset for British students".

University offer

Kingston University in Surrey, which awarded the celebrated writer an honorary doctorate, hopes to raise enough cash to buy the collection.

It plans to establish a permanent centre for Iris Murdoch studies.

I feel that the collection should stay here
Rachel Lee
The university is also planning to hold a special conference in her honour in 2004.

Lecturer Dr Anne Rowe, from the Iris Murdoch Society, said: "The danger is there has been an offer from America for the asking price.

"If we do not come up with a good competitive bid it may well go to America."

In June, the collection went on sale at London Olympia's Antiquarian Book.

Bristol-based bookseller Rachel Lee, who is conducting the sale, said: "I feel that the collection should stay here.

"I am holding off offers from other countries to give Kingston University a chance to raise the remaining 30,000 needed."

At one stage, the British Library and Oxford University's Bodleian Library were rumoured as possible buyers.

Professor 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.

Prof Bayley said of the books: "I should certainly prefer them to stay in Britain."

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