Doris Lessing's picture

Doris Lessing

(Doris May Lessing)
UK flag (1919 - 2013)

aka Jane Somers

Doris Lessing was born in Persia of British parents in 1919. She spent her childhood on her father's farm in what was then Southern Rhodesia. After leaving school at 14 she worked in a variety of jobs including typist, au pair and telephonist, maintaining her interest in writing all the while. Upon arrival in England in 1949 her first novel 'The Grass is Singing' was published (and was subsequently filmed in 1981). In 1952 the publishing of 'Martha Quest' marked the first in her famous sequence of five novels 'Children of Violence' which ended with 'The Four-Gated City' (1969).

Ms Lessing's collection of short novels called 'Five' earned her the Somerset Maugham Award for 1954 and her play 'Play With a Tiger' was presented in the West End in 1962. 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 W H 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.

Genres: Science Fiction, Horror, Literary Fiction, Mystery
   The Grass Is Singing (1950)
   Retreat to Innocence (1956)
   The Golden Notebook (1962)
   A Man and Two Women (1963)
   Winter in July (1966)
   Particularly Cats (1967)
   Briefing for a Descent into Hell (1971)
   The Summer before the Dark (1973)
   The Black Madonna (1974)
   The Memoirs of a Survivor (1974)
   The Diary Of A Good Neighbour (1983) (as by Jane Somers)
   If The Old Could (1984) (as by Jane Somers)
   The Diaries of Jane Somers (1984)
   The Good Terrorist (1985)
   Playing the Game (1995)
   Love, Again (1996)
   Mara and Dann (1999)
   The Old Age of El Magnifico (2000)
   The Sweetest Dream (2001)
   The Story of General Dann and Mara's Daughter, Griot and the Snow Dog (2005)
   The Cleft (2007)
   Alfred and Emily (2008)
   Five (1953)
   The Habit of Loving (1957)
   Fourteen Poems (poems) (1959)
   Nine African Stories (1968)
   Play with a Tiger (1972)
   Story Of A Non-Marrying Man (1972)
   The Temptation of Jack Orkney (1972)
   African Stories (1976)
   Stories (1978)
   To Room Nineteen (1978)
   The Doris Lessing Reader (1989)
   The Real Thing (1992)
   London Observed (1993)
   Spies I Have Known (1995)
   Problems, Myths and Stories (1998)
   The Grandmothers (2003)
     aka Adoration
Novellas and Short Stories
   Through The Tunnel (2013)
   The Day Stalin Died (2013)
   The Old Chief Mshlanga (2013)
   An Old Woman and Her Cat (2013)
   Report on the Threatened City (2013)
   Adore (2013)
Non fiction
   Going Home (1957)
   In Pursuit of the English (1960)
   A Small Personal Voice (1974)
   Prisons We Choose to Live Inside (1987)
   African Laughter (1992)
   Under My Skin (1994)
   Walking In The Shade (1997)
   On Cats (2002)
   Time Bites (2004)
   Putting the Questions Differently (2013)
Omnibus editions
Anthologies containing stories by Doris Lessing
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Short stories
The Antheap (1953)
Eldorado (1953)
A Home for Highland Cattle (1953)
Hunger (1953)
The Other Woman (1953)
Plants and Girls (1957)
Report on the Threatened City (1971)
Between Men (1988)
England Versus England (1988)
The Eye of God in Paradise (1988)
The Habit of Loving [short story] (1988)
Homage for Isaac Babel (1988)
How I Finally Lost My Heart (1988)
A Letter from Home (1988)
The Old Chief Mshlanga (1988)
The Words He Said (1988)

Booker Prize Best Novel nominee (1971) : Briefing for a Descent into Hell
Booker Prize Best Novel nominee (1981) : The Sirian Experiments: The Report by Ambien II, of the Five
Booker Prize Best Novel nominee (1985) : The Good Terrorist
Nobel Prize in Literature Lifetime Achievement winner (2007)

Doris Lessing recommends
This Mournable Body (2018)
(Nervous Conditions, book 3)
Tsitsi Dangarembga
"Many good novels written by men have come out of Africa, but few Black women. This is the novel we have been waiting will become a classic."
My Driver (2009)
Maggie Gee
"Worldly, witty, enjoyable, impressive."
Sleepwalking Land (2006)
Mia Couto
"Quite unlike anything else I have read from Africa."
The Harmony Silk Factory (2005)
Tash Aw
"A fine, strong, confident novel -- and what a storyteller Tash Aw is. Unputdownable."
Village of Stone (2004)
Xiaolu Guo
"What could have been a misery of a story has the mysterious charm of a fairy tale or a legend."
English Correspondence (2003)
Janet Davey
"A beguiling and beautiful novel whose quietly intelligent surface conceals dramatic depths. I hope it gets the attention it deserves."

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