Winner of the 1978 Booker Prize
The sea: turbulent and leaden, transparent and opaque, magician and mother… When Charles Arrowby, over sixty, a demi god of the theatre- director, playwright and actor – retires from his glittering London world in order to `abjure magic and become a hermit’, it is to the sea that he turns. He hopes at least to escape from `the woman’ – but unexpectedly meets one whom he loved long ago. His Buddhist cousin, James, also arrives. He is menaced by a monster from the deep. Charles finds his `solitude’ peopled by the drama of his own fantasies and obsessions.
Iris Murdoch was born in Dublin in 1919 of Anglo-Irish parents. She went to Badminton School, Bristol, and read classics at Somerville College, Oxford. During the war she was an Assistant Principal at the Treasury, and then worked with UNRRA in London, Belgium and Austria. She held a studentship in philosophy at Newnham College, Cambridge, and then in 1948 she returned to Oxford, where she became a Fellow of St Anne's College. Until her death in February 1999, she lived with her husband, the teacher and critic John Bayley, in Oxford. Awarded the CBE in 1976, Iris Murdoch was made a DBE in the 1987 New Year's Honours List. In the 1997 PEN Awards she received the Gold Pen for Distinguished Service to Literature.
Iris Murdoch made her writing debut in 1954 with Under The Net, and went on to write twenty-six novels, including the Booker prize-winning The Sea, The Sea (1978). Other literary awards include the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for The Black Prince (1973) and the Whitbread Prize (now the Costa Book Award) for The Sacred And Profane Love Machine (1974). Her works of philosophy include Sartre: Romantic Rationalist, Metaphysics as a Guide to Morals (1992) and Existentialists and Mystics (1997) She wrote several plays including The Italian Girl (with James Saunders) and The Black Prince, adapted from her novels of the same name.