For those of us who had the privilege and the joy to be Irish-born writer Iris Murdoch’s students at Oxford, the decision to name the Booker Prize trophy the “Iris” after the British novelist Iris Murdoch brings the hope her work will now attract a new audience and new fans.

Murdoch was my moral philosophy tutor at St Anne’s College for three terms in 1960. She was an exceptional teacher. Many who had the privilege of being taught by her have said that the experience expanded their minds and also triggered a bond of love with her.

She encouraged our imaginations. For example, when discussing Rousseau’s concept of the general will, I mentioned to her that Vinoba Bhave had proposed a similar idea in India – that of “gramdan”. It involved involved landowners in a village donating their plots to the village collective.

Murdoch was fascinated by this and urged me to explore the potential link between the two philosophies.

We soon reached a level of friendship where she was involved in my personal challenges, especially raising funds to continue my studies. With her well-known generosity, she paid my fees for a whole year. When I visited London, I had the opportunity to stay in her apartment, which was continuously occupied by her friends.

When I was leaving Oxford, she asked what I would like to take home. I said her books. And so I was privileged to receive all her books, signed with special messages for each.

In 1987, when she visited India for a conference, I had the opportunity to interview her for Doordarshan. When she died, I asked whether the channel would broadcast the programme again. But it turned out that they had lost the tape.

When I heard about the Booker decision, it brought back this flood of memories of how the brilliant writer, thinker, novelist and philosopher was also a caring friend.

Economist Devaki Jain is the author most recently of The Brass Notebook: A Memoir.