Nobel Prize-winning author Doris Lessing dies

by |November 18, 2013

Doris Lessing, one of the most prolific and inspirational writers of the last century and winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, has died at her London home in the early hours of the morning.

Born in Iran in 1919, Lessing was raised in Zimbabwe before moving to Britain at the age of 30 with the manuscript of her first novel, The Grass Is Singing, about the relationship of a white farmer’s wife and her black servant. It was an immediate bestseller in Britain, Europe and America.

Her early stories and novellas set in Africa, published during the 1950s and early 1960s, decry the dispossession of black Africans by white colonials – work that earned her “prohibited alien” status in white-ruled Zimbabwe and South Africa.

Lessing wrote that, for her, Africa was “not a place to visit unless one chooses to be an exile ever afterwards from an inexplicable majestic silence lying just over the border of memory or of thought”.

It was her 1962 novel The Golden Notebook that propelled her onto the international stage with its unconventional style and format, and linked her firmly to the feminist cause.

Its female heroine, Anna Wulf, is a writer caught in a personal and artistic crisis who sees her life thrown into various roles.

The Swedish Academy said in its Nobel citation that it “belongs to the handful of books that informed the 20th-century view of the male-female relationship”.

More recently Lessing’s popularity reached new frontiers as her reaction to winning the 2007 Nobel Prize for Literature went viral. It’s brilliant, well worth a watch.

She was a true genius, a brave and revolutionary thinker, and she will be missed.

For all titles from Doris Lessing, click here

For all titles from Doris Lessing, click here

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About the Contributor

Andrew Cattanach is a regular contributor to The Booktopia Blog. He has been shortlisted for The Age Short Story Prize and was named a finalist for the 2015 Young Bookseller of the Year Award. He enjoys reading, writing and sleeping, though finds it difficult to do them all at once.

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  • November 18, 2013 at 12:15 pm

    how sad she has passed :(

  • Helen Diack

    December 6, 2013 at 4:31 pm

    Doris Lessing and Nelson Mandela, thank you. You have both enriched our lives and showed us how to live through your clear sightedness and distinctive voices, your courage, conviction.

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