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Their first kiss, a spontaneous lunge over an art book they were perusing, signalled the start of a two-year phase Morgan now sees as a "love affair".

They loved, and were loved; and that is everything that ever matters.

Morgan, now a lecturer himself at Chelsea College of Art and Design, was a 24-year-old novice from a troubled, itinerant background when he met Murdoch, already a respected author in her forties, in February 1964.

But in his book, With Love and Rage: A Friendship with Iris Murdoch, he recalls how they "clicked" the moment he entered her office for a supervision – and within weeks were engaged in a passionate clinch at her flat in west London.

An Oxford philosopher and an Oxford professor of literature, critics, water lovers, eccentrics.

The joy of the matter, regardless how sophisticated the narratives they both created for their readers, or how sophisticated we pretend is our intellectual response to those novels, is that their life (the singular seems apposite) represents the oldest and best human story of all. In The Bell, my favourite Murdoch novel – by which I mean my favourite novel – Iris wrote: “Remember that all our failures are ultimately failures in love.” By this law, surely, we know that the marriage of John Bayley and Iris Murdoch was a success.

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