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Doris Lessing

Writer

Born: 22 October 1919
Died: 17 November 2013
Birthplace: Kermanshah, Iran (then Persia)
Best known as:

The author of The Golden Notebook

Name at birth: Doris May Tayler

When Doris Lessing won the Nobel Prize for literature in 2007, the Nobel committee described her as "that epicist of the female experience, who with scepticism, fire and visionary power has subjected a divided civilisation to scrutiny." Doris Lessing was born in Persia (now Iran) and grew up on a farm in Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). Her parents were British citizens. She left school and home at an early age, marrying twice (and taking the name of her second husband, Gottfried Lessing) before finally moving to England in 1949. There she began her career as a novelist, publishing The Grass is Singing in 1950. During the 1950s, Doris Lessing worked on what were to become five novels in the Children of Violence series, and in 1962 she gained international notice for her novel The Golden Notebook. Her novels touch on issues of race and politics (she was a Communist in the 1940s and 1950s), and also on her search for meaning as a writer and a woman; she was considered a heroic figure by feminists. Doris Lessing continued to write novels, graphic novels, librettos and essays throughout the 20th century and into the 21st, including works influenced by science fiction and Sufi mysticism. She also published the memoirs Under My Skin (1995) and Walking in the Shade (2000).

Extra credit:

Doris Lessing was the oldest person ever to win a Nobel Prize for literature; she turned 88 in 2007, the year she was given the prize... Doris Lessing was married twice: to Frank Wisdom from 1938 until their divorce in 1943, and to Gottfried Lessing from 1943 until their divorce in 1949. She had two children with Wisdom (Jean and John) and one, Peter, with Lessing; Peter moved with her to London in 1949 while Jean and John remained with their father... The title of The Grass is Singing is taken from T.S. Eliot's 1922 poem The Waste Land: "In this decayed hole among the mountains / In the faint moonlight, the grass is singing."

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