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Doris Lessing - Author

About the Author

Doris Lessing is one of the most important writers of the second half of the 20th-century and was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature 2007. For over fifty years she has been writing provocative, inventive and influential works, ranging from novels, short stories and science fiction to autobiography, drama, poetry, essays and operas. Her first novel, The Grass is Singing, was published in 1950, and her international reputation has flourished since then. Among her other celebrated novels are The Golden Notebook, The Summer Before the Dark and Memoirs of a Survivor. She has also published two volumes of her autobiography, Under my Skin (which received the James Tait Black Prize) and Walking in the Shade. Her recent publications include the novels The Story of General Dann and Mara's Daughter, Griot and the Snow Dog and The Cleft, and Time Bites, a collection of essays. Ms Lessing's collection of short novels, Five, earned her the Somerset Maugham Award in 1954. The French translation of The Golden Notebook (1962) won the Prix Medici in 1976. In 1982 she received the Austrian State Prize for Literature and the Shakespeare Prize, Hamburg. Doris Lessing has been shortlisted for the Booker Prize three times: Briefing for a Descent into Hell (1971), The Sirian Experiments (1981) and The Good Terrorist (1985) and won the WH Smith Award in 1985. In August 1991, she received an honorary title of Distinguished Fellow in Literature in the School of English and American Studies conferred by University of East Anglia. In 2001 she was awarded the Spanish Prince of Asturias Prize in Literature, the David Cohen British Literature Prize and received a Companion of Honour from the Royal Society for Literature. She was recently short-listed for the Man Booker International Prize and received S. T. Dupont Golden PEN Award for a Lifetime's Distinguished Service to Literature. Doris Lessing died in November 2013.

Featured books by Doris Lessing

Other books by Doris Lessing

The Diaries of Jane Somers

The Diaries of Jane Somers

Author: Doris Lessing Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 15/04/2002

First published in 1984, under a pseudonym, as `The Diary of a Good Neighbour' and `If the Old Could ...', now published as `The Diaries of Jane Somers', this is in many ways classic Lessing. As resonant with social and political themes as `The Golden Notebook', Lessing returns to the realism of her early fiction with the wisdom and experience of maturity. The diaries introduce us to Jane, an intelligent and beautiful magazine editor concerned with success, clothes and comfort. But her real inadequacy is highlighted when first her husband, then her mother, die from cancer and Jane feels strangely removed. In an attempt to fill this void, she befriends ninety-something Maudie, whose poverty and squalor contrast so radically with the glamour and luxury of the magazine world. The two gradually come to depend on each other - Maudie delighting Jane with tales of London in the 1920s and Jane trying to care for the rapidly deteriorating old woman. `The Diary of Jane Somers' contrasts the helplessness of the elderly with that of the young as Jane is forced to care for her nineteen-year-old drop-out niece Kate who is struggling with an emotional breakdown. Jane realises that she understands young people as little as she so recently did the old.

Ben, in the World

Ben, in the World

Author: Doris Lessing Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 02/04/2001

From Doris Lessing, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, the sequel to one of her most celebrated novels, `The Fifth Child'. `The Fifth Child', Doris Lessing's 1988 novel, made a powerful impact on publication. Its account of idyllic marital and parental bliss shattered by the arrival of the feral fifth child of the Lovatts made for unnerving and compulsive reading. That child, Ben, is the central character of this sequel, which picks up the fable at the end of his childhood and takes our primal, misunderstood, maladjusted teenager out into the world. He meets mostly with mockery, fear and incomprehension, but with just enough kindness and openness to keep him afloat as his adventures take him from London to the south of France and on to South America in his restless quest for community, companionship and peace. Lessing employs a plain, unadorned prose fit for fables; again, we have a childlike perspective at the heart of the book; again, the world in all its malevolence and misapprehension swirls around at the edge, while, occasionally, a strong character steps forward to try to set a good example.

Mara and Dann

Mara and Dann

Author: Doris Lessing Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 18/01/2000

A visionary novel from Doris Lessing, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature. It is sooner than you might think. And the Earth's climate is much changed - it's colder than ever before in the north, and unbearably dry and hot in the south. Mara, who is seven, and her four-year-old brother Dann find themselves somewhere very strange, not home ... They are taken in by a kindly, grandmotherly woman, but this new life is hard: hunger, dirt, thirst and danger are the children's constant companions. Drought and fire carry off their adoptive home and force them to set off northward into the unknown, to experience a series of adventures that bring them to an altogether altered world, where they can start to learn and build anew. Doris Lessing has written a compelling, troubling and entertaining novel that, through the remarkable odyssey of a brother and sister living in the imagined future, manages to tell us a great deal about the present we perceive only dimly and scarcely know how to value.

Walking in the Shade Volume Two of My Autobiography, 1949-1962

Walking in the Shade Volume Two of My Autobiography, 1949-1962

Author: Doris Lessing Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 26/03/1998

The second volume of the autobiography of Doris Lessing, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature. `Walking in the Shade' begins in 1949, as Doris Lessing arrives in London with nothing but her young son and the manuscript of her first novel. With humour and clear-sightedness, she records her battles of the next decade: her involvement with communism, her love affairs, her struggle with poverty, the difficulties she faced as a young single mother. But as well there is the success of that first novel, `The Grass Is Singing', and meetings with personalities and opinion-makers - Kenneth Tynan, John Osborne, Bertrand Russell and others.Describing, too, the genesis of `The Golden Notebook', this book sees Lessing emerge as one of the most exciting, and groundbreaking, novelists of the post-war generation, and one of the twentieth century's great writers.

Love, Again

Love, Again

Author: Doris Lessing Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 13/09/1996

A fierce, compelling account of the nature and origins of love from Doris Lessing, one of the most acclaimed writers of the twentieth century and winner of the Nobel Pize for Literature 2007. Sarah Durham, sixty-year-old producer and founder of a leading fringe theatre company, commissions a play based on the journals of Julie Vairon, a beautiful, wayward nineteenth-century mulatto woman. It captivates all who come into contact with it, and dramatically changes the lives of all those who take part in it. For Sarah the changes are profound - she falls in love with two younger men, causing her to relive her own stages of growing up, from immature and infantile with the beautiful and androgynous Bill, to a mature love with Henry.

The Summer Before the Dark

The Summer Before the Dark

Author: Doris Lessing Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 01/02/1996

The story of a middle-aged woman's search for freedom, from Doris Lessing, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature. Her four children have flown, her husband is otherwise occupied, and after twenty years of being a good wife and mother, Kate Brown is free for a summer of adventure. She plunges into an affair with a younger man, travelling abroad with him, and, on her return to England, meets an extraordinary young woman whose charm and freedom of spirit encourages Kate in her own liberation. Kate's new life has brought her a strange unhappiness, but as the summer months unfold, a darker, disquieting journey begins, devastating in its consequences. A novel of self-discovery that bears the hallmarks of Lessing's brilliance, honesty and power to move the reader, `The Summer Before the Dark' has been hailed by some as Lessing's best book.

Under My Skin Volume One of My Autobiography, to 1949

Under My Skin Volume One of My Autobiography, to 1949

Author: Doris Lessing Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 23/06/1995

The first volume of the autobiography of Doris Lessing, author of `The Grass is Singing' and `The Golden Notebook', and Winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature 2007. Winner of the James Tait Black Prize 1994. Doris Lessing's autobiography begins with her childhood in Africa and ends on her arrival in London in 1949 with the typescript of her first novel in her suitcase. It charts the evolution first of her consciousness, then of her sexuality and finally of her political awareness with an almost overwhelming immediacy, and is as distinctive and challenging as anything she has ever written. It is already recognised as one of the great autobiographies of the twentieth century.

Briefing for a Descent Into Hell

Briefing for a Descent Into Hell

Author: Doris Lessing Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 22/05/1995

A study of a man beyond the verge of a nervous breakdown, this is a brilliant and disturbing novel by Doris Lessing, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature. Penniless, rambling and incoherent, a man is found wandering at night on London's Embankment. Taken to hospital and heavily sedated, he tells the doctors of his incredible fantastical voyage, adrift on the ocean, landing on unknown shores, flying on the back of a huge white bird. Identified as Charles Watkins, a Cambridge Classics professor, he is visited by family and friends, each revealing clues to the nature of his breakdown. As the doctors try to cure him, Watkins begins a fierce battle to hold on to his magnificent inner world, as it gradually acquires a greater reality than the everyday... `Briefing for a Descent into Hell' is one of Doris Lessing's most brilliantly achieved novels, linking her early work, which explored the nature of subjectivity, with her later experiments in science fiction. Its indictment of the tyranny of society is powerful, disturbing and, as always, magnificently rendered.

The Memoirs of a Survivor

The Memoirs of a Survivor

Author: Doris Lessing Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 10/05/1995

A compelling vision of a disorietating and barbaric future from Doris Lessing, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature. Many years in the future, city life has broken down, communications have failed and food supplies are dwindling. From her window a middle-aged woman - our narrator - watches things fall apart and records what she witnesses: hordes of people migrating to the countryside, gangs of children roaming the streets. One day, a young girl, Emily, is brought to her house by a stranger and left in her care. A strange, precocious adolescent, drawn to the tribal streetlife and its barbaric rituals, she is unafraid of the harsh world outside, while our narrator retreats into her hidden world where reality fades and the past is revisited ...

This Was the Old Chief's Country Collected African Stories Volume One

This Was the Old Chief's Country Collected African Stories Volume One

Author: Doris Lessing Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 10/10/1994

The first volume of Doris Lessing's `Collected African Stories', and a classic work from the winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature. `It can be said of all white-dominated Africa that it was - and still is - the Old Chief's Country. So all the stories I write of a certain kind I think of as belonging under that heading; tales about white people, sometimes about black people, living in a landscape that not so very long ago was settled by black tribes, living in complex societies that the white people are only just beginning to study, let alone understand.' Doris Lessing, from the Preface In this superb volume of African stories, Lessing paints a magnificent portrait of the country in which she grew up. The cruelties of the white man towards the native, `the amorphous black mass, like tadpoles, faceless, who existed merely to serve', the English settlers, ill at ease, the gamblers and moneymakers searching for diamonds and gold, and the presence, `latent always in the blood', of Africa itself, its majestic beauty and timeless landscape: Lessing draws them all together into a powerful, memorable vision.

The Temptation of Jack Orkney Collected Stories Volume Two

The Temptation of Jack Orkney Collected Stories Volume Two

Author: Doris Lessing Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 10/10/1994

From Doris Lessing, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, the second volume of her collected short stories. Lessing is unrivalled in her ability to capture the complexities of relationships, and the stories in this wonderful collection have lost none of their original power. Two marriages, both middle class, liberal and `rather literary', share a shocking flaw, a secret `cancer'. A young, beautiful woman from a working-class family is courted by a very eligible, very upmarket man. An ageing actress falls in love for the first time but can only express her feelings through her stage performances because her happily married lover is unobtainable. A dedicated, lifelong rationalist is tempted, after the death of his father, by the comforts of religious belief. In this magnificent collection of stories, which spans four decades, Lessing's unique gift for observation, her wit, her compassion and remarkable ability to illuminate human life are all remarkably displayed.

The Sentimental Agents in the Volyen Empire

The Sentimental Agents in the Volyen Empire

Author: Doris Lessing Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 19/07/1994

From Doris Lessing, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, the fifth and final instalment in the visionary novel cycle `Canopus in Argos: Archives'. `The Sentimental Agents ...' is set in the declining Volyen Empire as the empires of Sirius and Shammat compete to overwhelm it with rhetoric and false sentiment. The Canopean Empire deploys covert agents to help the Volyens resist. But one of these agents, Incent, succumbs to `Undulant Rhetoric', and Agent Klorathy must go to Volyen to help him see through the empty words that have beguiled him. Once more employing alien races to identify human failings, Lessing uses social and political satire to show how we misuse speech (and speeches) and delude ourselves with self-aggrandizing notions about the primacy of emotion. Her renowned insight into human behaviour goes hand in hand here with a vein of humour that sees her writing in the tradition of Voltaire and Swift.

A Small Personal Voice

A Small Personal Voice

Author: Doris Lessing Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 23/05/1994

An essential and definitive collection of the Nobel Prize for Literature winner's finest essays, reviews, reminiscences and interviews from the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. `The novelist talks as an individual to individuals, in a small personal voice. In an age of committee art, public art, people may begin to feel again a need for the small personal voice; and this will feed confidence into writers and, with confidence because of the knowledge of being needed, the warmth and humanity, and love of people which is essential for a great age of literature.' In this collection of her non-fiction, Lessing's own life and work are the subject of a number of pieces, as are fellow writers such as Isak Dinesen and Kurt Vonnegut. There are essays on Malcolm X and Sufism, discussions of the responsibility of the artist, thoughts on her exile from Southern Rhodesia, and a fascinating memoir of her fraught relationship with her mother. Lit throughout by Doris Lessing's desire for truth-telling, `A Small Personal Voice' is both an important collection of writings by and a self-portrait of one of the most significant writers of the past century.

The Marriages Between Zones 3, 4 and 5

The Marriages Between Zones 3, 4 and 5

Author: Doris Lessing Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 23/05/1994

From Doris Lessing, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, this is the second instalment in the visionary novel cycle `Canopus in Argos: Archives'. This is the story of the kindly Queen of Zone Three, who rules a land free of all harshness, and her forced marriage with the soldier-king of Zone Four, which is hierarchic, disciplined, inflexible, dutiful. This apparently difficult marriage, unwanted by both, requires a compromise between impulse and reason, between instinct and logic. Ben Ata learns to accept and then to love the ruler of Zone Three and her alien ways; and she learns to love and to need him. But when the Queen is commanded by the Providers to return to her own realm, she must obey, shattering though it is to leave her husband and child. Ben Ata, in turn, is ordered to marry the savage beauty who rules Zone Five, a land that both unites and reverses the other two Zones. In `The Marriages ...' Doris Lessing uses science-fiction brilliantly to investigate the conflict between men and women. Once again, invented planets allow her to deploy her unillusioned knowledge of the real world of the reader.

Shikasta

Shikasta

Author: Doris Lessing Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 28/03/1994

From Doris Lessing, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, this is the first instalment in the visionary novel cycle `Canopus in Argos: Archives'. The story of the final days of our planet is told through the reports of Johor, an emissary sent from Canopus. Earth, now named Shikasta (the Stricken) by the kindly, paternalistic Canopeans who colonised it many centuries ago, is under the influence of the evil empire of Puttiora. War, famine, disease and environmental disasters ravage the planet. To Johor, mankind is a `totally crazed species', racing towards annihilation: his orders to save humanity set him what seems to be an impossible task. Blending myth, fable and allegory, Doris Lessing's astonishing visionary creation both reflects and redefines the history of our own world from its earliest beginnings to an inevitable, tragic self-destruction.

The Sirian Experiments

The Sirian Experiments

Author: Doris Lessing Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 28/03/1994

The third in Doris Lessing's visionary novel cycle Canopus in Argos: Archives . It is a mix of fable, futuristic fantasy and pseudo-documentary accounts of 20th-century history.

Author Info

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https://www.dorislessing.org/index.html

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