Doris Lessing

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Doris Lessing
Doris Lessing at 2006
Doris Lessing at 2006
Born(1919-10-22)22 October 1919
Kermanshah, Persia (Iran)
Died17 November 2013(2013-11-17) (aged 94)
London, England
Nationality British
Literary movementFeminism, Modernism, Science fiction

Doris Lessing (Doris May Tayler, 22 October 1919[1][2] – 17 November 2013)[3] was a British writer. In 2007, she was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. Reporters told Doris that she had won the Nobel prize and they asked her "Are you not surprised?". She said she had already "won every other European literature prize" so winning prizes was normal.

Early life[change | change source]

Lessing was born in Iran on 22 October 1919. Her parents were both English. They met at the Royal Free Hospital. Her father, Captain Alfred Tayler, was a patient because he had lost his leg in World War I. Her mother, Emily Maude Tayler (maiden name McVeagh), was a nurse.[4][5][6]

Alfred Tayler and his wife moved to Kermanshah, Iran. He started a job there as a clerk for the Imperial Bank of Persia. Doris was born here in 1919.[7][8] Later, the family moved to the British colony of Southern Rhodesia (now called Zimbabwe) in 1925 to farm maize.

Lessing studied at the Dominican Convent High School in Salisbury (now Harare). It was a Roman Catholic convent school for girls.[9] She left school aged 14, and taught herself after that. She left home at 15 and worked as a nursemaid. She started reading about politics and sociology[6] and began writing around this time. In 1937, Lessing moved to Salisbury to work as a telephone operator. She soon married her first husband, Frank Wisdom. They had two children (John and Jean), before the marriage ended in 1943.[6] She took care of future author Jenny Diski after her parents abused her. Diski lived with Lessing for four years in London.

After her divorce, Lessing became more involved with members of the Left Book Club. She had joined this communist book club the year before.[10][11] She met her second husband, Gottfried Lessing there. They married soon after she joined the group, and had a child named Peter. This marriage ended in divorce in 1949. Gottfried Lessing later became the East German ambassador to Uganda. He was murdered in the 1979 rebellion against Idi Amin Dada.[6]

She went to London to pursue her writing career and communist ideals. Lessing left two young children with their father in South Africa. Peter, from her second marriage, went with her. She later said that she thought she had no choice at that time. She felt she had done the best she could and that she was not the best person to raise the children. She would have been very frustrated like her mother had been because it was diificult for an intelligent woman to spend all of her time with young children.[12]

Archive[change | change source]

The largest collection of Lessing's writing is at the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, at the University of Texas at Austin. There are 45 boxes of Lessing's materials at the Ransom Center that contain nearly all of her available manuscripts and typescripts up to 1999. Lessing kept none of the originals of her early manuscripts.[13] Other institutions, including the McFarlin Library at the University of Tulsa, hold smaller collections.[14]

Death[change | change source]

During the late 1990s, Lessing suffered a stroke which stopped her from travelling during her later years and focused her mind on death.[15][16] Lessing died on 17 November 2013 at her home in London, aged 94.[3][17][18][15][19]

Awards[change | change source]

Works[change | change source]

References[change | change source]

  1. "Biography". A Reader's Guide to The Golden Notebook & Under My Skin. HarperCollins. 1995. Retrieved 2007-10-11.
  2. "Guardian Unlimited: Doris Lessing". Retrieved 2007-10-11.
  3. 3.0 3.1 'Doris Lessing Dies Age 94' The Guardian, 17 November 2013. Retrieved 17 November 2013
  4. Hazelton, Lesley (11 October 2007). "'Golden Notebook' Author Lessing Wins Nobel Prize". Bloomberg. Retrieved 11 October 2007.
  5. Klein, Carole. "Doris Lessing". The New York Times. Retrieved 11 October 2007.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 "Doris Lessing". Archived from the original on 8 June 2008. Retrieved 11 October 2007.
  7. Hazelton, Lesley (25 July 1982). "Doris Lessing on Feminism, Communism and 'Space Fiction'". The New York Times. Retrieved 11 October 2007.
  8. "Author Lessing wins Nobel honour". BBC News Online. 11 October 2007. Retrieved 11 October 2007.
  9. Carol Simpson Stern. Doris Lessing Biography. Retrieved on 11 October 2007.
  10. "Biography". A Reader's Guide to The Golden Notebook & Under My Skin. HarperCollins. 1995. Retrieved 11 October 2007.
  11. Lessing, Doris (2003). A Home for the Highland Cattle and the Antheap. Broadview Press. p. 27. ISBN 978-1-55111-363-0.
  12. Lowering the Bar. When bad mothers give us hope. Archived 2010-05-11 at the Wayback Machine Newsweek article 6 May 2010. Retrieved 9 May 2010.
  13. "Harry Ransom Center Holds Archive of Nobel Laureate Doris Lessing". Archived from the original on 11 October 2008. Retrieved 17 March 2008.
  14. "Doris Lessing manuscripts". Archived from the original on 6 November 2007. Retrieved 17 October 2007.
  15. 15.0 15.1 Verongos, Helen T. (November 17, 2013). "Doris Lessing, Novelist Who Won 2007 Nobel, Is Dead at 94". The New York Times. Retrieved November 17, 2013.
  16. Guttridge, Peter (November 17, 2013). "Doris Lessing: Nobel Prize-winning author whose work ranged from social and political realism to science fiction". The Independent. Retrieved November 17, 2013.
  17. BBC News: Author Doris Lessing dies aged 94 (accessed 17 November 2013)
  18. Doris Lessing: A Retrospective: Biography (accessed 17 November 2013)
  19. The Telegraph: Doris Lessing, Nobel Prize-winning author dies at 94 (accessed 17 November 2013)
  20. "Premi Internacional Catalunya". Archived from the original on 2008-05-12. Retrieved 2010-11-03.