Doris Lessing, Nobel Prize-Winning Author, Dies

Doris Lessing, the Nobel Prize-winning author, died Sunday morning, Harper Collins her publisher said.

Lessing, who produced 55 works, including poetry, operas and short stories, was 94 years old.

“Doris’s long life and career was a great gift to world literature,” he editor at Harper Collins said in a statement. “She wrote across a variety of genres and made an enormous cultural impact. Probably she’ll be most remembered for The Golden Notebook which became a handbook to a whole generation, but her many books have spoken to us in so many various ways. Doris has been called a visionary and, to be in her company, which was a privilege I had as her editor towards the end of her writing life, was to experience something of that. Even in very old age she was always intellectually restless, reinventing herself, curious about the changing world around us, always completely inspirational. We’ll miss her hugely.”

According to The Guardian, Lessing was born in Iran and raised in Zimbabwe, the setting of her first novel, The Grass Is Singing.

In 2007, she became only the 11th woman to be awarded the Nobel Prize in literature. That year, she beat out American author Philip Roth.

Her reaction to winning the prize was extraordinary. A Reuters journalist, along with others, were waiting outside her flat in London. One of the journalists breaks the news to her and she just says “Oh Christ.”

“I’ve won all the prizes in Europe, every bloody one, so I’m delighted to win them all. It’s a royal flush,” she went on.

In an interview with NPR in 2008, Lessing talked about growing up in a fractured family. Her father and mother were “badly damaged” by World War I, she said.

She also talked about her seminal work, 1962’s The Golden Notebook, which is often referred to as the first feminist novel.

“It’s stupid. I mean, there’s nothing feminist about The Golden Notebook,” she said. “The second line is: ‘As far as I can see, everything is cracking up.’ That is what The Golden Notebook is about!”

Lessing told NPR that what she did well over her career was documenting the times she lived in.

“I have done quite a good job of documenting a lot of our time, I think. I mean, what is The Golden Notebook? It couldn’t be written now, could it? You know, looking at it objectively, I’ve written one or two good books.”

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