Iris Murdoch
Philippa Foot
Elizabeth Anscombe
Mary Midgley

The Quartet in Oxford

All four women studied at Oxford during the Second World War, at Somerville and St Hugh’s colleges. After the war, Foot and Midgley lived in Park Town, a pair of Victorian crescents. Murdoch lodged with Foot. Anscombe lived a stone’s throw away at 27 St John Street.

It was in her study at St John Street that Elizabeth Anscombe worked on her translation of the Philosophical Investigations - Mary Warnock recalled seeing heaps of Zettel on the floor, carefully assembled by Elizabeth. Elizabeth in turn lent Mary the set of remarks that contain the famous private language argument. It was in Philippa Foot’s living room in Park Town that the Quartet congregated to discuss the orthodox moral philosophies of their day, which Mary Midgley said they all saw as ‘disastrous’. Iris, Philippa and Elizabeth taught in the Oxford women’s colleges of Somerville and St. Anne’s. In June 1956, at Convocation House, Elizabeth Anscombe delivered a speech objecting to the proposal to award Harry S. Truman an Oxford honorary degree.


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