Women and the Church of England in the Twentieth Century | The Novelist-Philosopher: Iris Murdoch (1919-1999)

While the ordination of women to the priesthood did not occur until 1994 in the Church of England, the  influence of women upon English religious and cultural life was none the less considerable. This series considers five Anglican women who shaped national life in different ways and whose religious and cultural influence is still felt.

Iris MurdochIris Murdoch has often been thought of as in some sense an Anglican novelist, but what might this mean? After briefly considering her own personal understanding of theology, and her practical contact with the church as an institution, this lecture looks at the question through the novels. Several of the novels features Anglican clergy, along with other religious characters. I focus on the clergy in particular, in order to explore what Murdoch thought was left of historic Christianity in a secularising age, and what might still be recovered and put to use.

 Dr Peter Webster is Head of Digital Scholarship and Innovation at the library in the University of Southampton. He is also an historian of contemporary British religious history, and has published widely, including a biography of Walter Hussey. He has been a member of the advisory boards of several learned societies, academic journals and other digital research projects and is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society.