"This is Mary Midgley's remarkable story. Perhaps the only British philosopher to have been in Vienna on the eve of its invasion by Nazi Germany in 1938 and dance in Trafalgar Square on VE day seven years later, she studied philosophy at Oxford in the same year as Iris Murdoch, Elizabeth Anscombe and Philippa Foot, all of whom became close friends. Midgley tells us in vivid and humorous fashion how they cut a swathe through the arid landscape of 1950s British philosophy, writing and arguing - often with each other - about the grand themes of character, beauty and the meaning of rudeness while the spectral figure of Ludwig Wittgenstein hovered in the background." "She also charts the highs and lows of philosophy and academia in Britain. On joining the Reading philosophy department on [pound]400 a year in 1949, she doubled its staff complement. But her many years at Newcastle University - where Mike Brearley, who later captained England at cricket, also used to teach - were rewarded with the closure of the philosophy department in the 1980s." "The mother of three children, her journey is also one of a woman who in the 1950s and 1960s was fighting to combine a professional career with raising a family. In startling contrast to many of the academic stars of her generation, we learn that Midgley nearly became a novelist and started writing philosophy only when in her fifties, suggesting that Minerva's owl really does fly at dusk."