Doris Lessing

From ArticleWorld

Doris Lessing is a famous African writer. Her writing originally centered on social issues, but she switched to science fiction and fantasy later in life.


Lessing was born Doris May Taylor in Kermanshah, Persia (present-day Iran) on October 22, 1919. Shortly after her birth, her family moved to Africa’s Southern Rhodesia (present-day Zimbabwe) in the 1920s to fulfill her mother’s dream of living a traditional Victorian lifestyle amongst “savage lands.” However, the family’s maize farm quickly failed and Lessing was raised poor.

She was married and divorced twice. After the second divorce in 1949, Lessing moved to London. She published her first novel, The Grass is Singing, in 1950 and quickly made Lessing famous. The Grass is Singing explored the world of white colonialism into Southern African.

As a communist, her politics slipped into her work (as seen in her Children of Violence Series). She rejected traditional gender roles in her novels and wrote semi-autobiographical plots in A Proper Marriage and A Ripple from the Storm, which featured the character Martha Quest.

By the 1960s, Lessing had left the Communist Party and published the feminist classic The Golden Notebook in 1962. Despite the theme of female empowerment in the novel, Lessing dislikes being associated with the women’s movement.

In the 1970s and the early 1980s, Lessing dedicated her writing to exclusively fantasy and science fiction themes. In 1983 and 1984, she published two fiction books under the penname Jane Somers. Neither sold well until they were republished with Lessing’s actual name.

In 1994, Lessing wrote Under My Skin, the first volume of her autobiography. Under My Skin won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize.

Lessing is also a Companion of Honour by the British Government, president of the educational charity Booktrust, and the 2001 recipient of the David Cohen British Literature Award.