Iris Murdoch rare books and memorabilia



2015-06-26 11:05:18

Iris Murdoch rare books and memorabilia are collectible items relating to British author and philosopher Dame Irish Murdoch (1919-1999).

Brief History/biography

Iris Murdoch is considered one of the best British writers of the 20th century. Murdoch’s novels delved into questions of good and evil in relation to politics and society, morality, sexual relationships, and the power of the unconscious. Her political writings were influenced by Plato, and critically examined Sartre and Wittgenstein. Her novels are richly structured and compellingly realist, such as the gothic The Unicorn (1963), The Black Prince (1973), The Sea, The Sea (1978), and her first published novel Under the Net (1954).

Types of rare books and memorabilia


Bloomsbury Auctions

  • Under the Net (1954), An Unofficial Rose (1962), The Unicorn (1963) and The Italian Girl (1964), first editions, sold for £700 in March 2004.
  • Under the Net (1954), An Unofficial Rose (1962), The Unicorn (1963), The Italian Girl (1964), The Sea, The Sea (1978), The Book and the Brotherhood (1987), first editions, most signed. Sold for £460 in July 2009.
  • 20 Murdoch first editions, sold for £430 in February 2002.
  • The Flight from the Enchanter (1956), first edition, sold for £300 in March 2008 and £420 in December 2008.
  • Under the Net (1954) first edition, sold for £420 in March 2008.
  • 28 Murdoch first editions, sold for £400 in August 2000.
  • Sixteen Murdoch first editions, sold for £400 in November 2004.
  • A Year of Birds (1978), illustrated by Reynolds Stone, signed by Murdoch and Stone. Sold for £380 in December 2011.
  • The Philosopher’s pupil (1983) and The Book and the Brotherhood (1987), first editions, signed. Sold for £300 in July 2009.


  • Eight first editions of Murdoch’s works in dust-jackets, sold for £3,840 in May 2008.


  • Twenty-two first editions, most inscribed by the author, sold for £3,120 in December 2004.

Documents, Autographs and Photographs

Bloomsbury Auctions

  • Handwritten manuscript poems The Unpruned Pear Tree and A Christmas Carol, with other ephemera, sold for £850 in July 2009.
  • Collection of correspondence and first editions with signatures and inscriptions, sold for £950 in February 2007.


  • Photograph of Iris Murdoch by Mark Gerson, sold for £240 in July 2004.

Guide for collectors

In Iris Murdoch we see a writer recently become collectible. Her first editions and signed works are not so scarce, nor yet as valuable as other writers that came before her. However, we are observing the beginning of a collectables phenomenon, as items of Iris Murdoch memorabilia are sure to increase in value hugely as time goes on. At present, first editions are sold for up to a few hundred pounds/dollars, often several books sold together as one lot, either pure Murdoch or with other Modern first editions. Yet in the future, if well preserved, these works may well amount to a whole lot more. Murdoch is a significant figure in the history of British literature, and as that history falls further into the past, her works will increase in value. What this amounts to is that the time is ripe for collecting Murdoch works and memorabilia, to keep them in fine condition, and to bide your time. This is particularly attractive to those new to collecting books.

Iris Murdoch’s novels have particularly beautiful dust-jacket cover designs and illustrations. Years into the future, first editions of Murdoch resplendent with these decorative original dust-jackets in good condition will make them very desirable to collectors.


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