About the project

Mapping the Quartet traces the legacy of the Quartet in today’s living philosophers, teachers, enthusiasts and friends.

Mapping the Quartet is an In Parenthesis project. In Parenthesis was established by Dr Clare Mac Cumhaill and Dr Rachael Wiseman to study and celebrate the collective corpus of distinguished philosophers G.E.M. Anscombe, Philippa Foot, Iris Murdoch, and Mary Midgley. The Quartet were born in 1919/20 and studied at Oxford between 1937 and 1943.

We were first alerted to the story of the Quartet by this letter from Mary Midgley in the Guardian newspaper in 2013. We wrote to Mary and went to visit her in her home. Over the next few years, a remarkable story of female friendship, philosophy, and frustration emerged, all against the background of the Blitz, Hiroshima, and the Holocaust. We realised that the story of the Quartet was not only that of an unrecognised philosophical school, but a potentially disruptive intervention in the male-dominated and apolitical accepted history of analytic philosophy.


In Parenthesis is now a community of researchers from students to professors who are interested in the work of the Quartet, and in using their story to re-examine what philosophy was, is, and might be. We have run a number of projects including Notes from A Biscuit Tin and Philosophy by Postcard. This site is a way for you to join that community, either by mapping a connection or, as we hope, becoming a network member.

The network already includes teachers, researchers, enthusiasts and friends. We hope that by joining you will find new opportunities for collaboration, conversation and connection. You don’t have to be an expert to join – all are welcome.

Clare MacCumhaill and Rachael Wiseman are writing a book on 'The Quartet' for Chatto & Windus (2022). Stories you share here will help them to capture the character, colour and cleverness of these unique philosophers. By sharing your personal recollections, you will build a reservoir of testimony around the Quartet that future generations of scholars can draw on.

Mapping the Quartet is funded by the British Academy, Arts & Humanities Research Council, Durham University & University of Liverpool.

Find out more about In Parenthesis and its projects here.

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