Biography of Doris Lessing

Doris Lessing was born on October 22, 1919, in Iran, to British parents. Her father was employed as a bank clerk, and her mother was a former nurse. After spending her early childhood in Iran, the family moved to the British colony of Southern Rhodesia (modern day Zimbabwe) in 1925, where her parents owned a farm. She received some education in Zimbabwe, attending school until the age of 13, but she was largely self-educated after that point. She became interested in politics and writing, pursuing these interests while working variously as a nursemaid and telephone operator. She married in 1937 and gave birth to two children in 1940 and 1941. By 1943, she had divorced and involved herself in the Left Book Club.

By 1949, Lessing had experienced a second marriage, a second divorce, and had given birth to a third child. Hoping to pursue both her writing career and find a wider outlet for her political beliefs, she decided to move to London with her youngest child. She had been selling stories to magazines since she was a teenager, and in 1950, she published her first novel, The Grass is Singing. This was followed by several collections of short stories and the novels Retreat to Innocence (1956) and The Golden Notebook (1962). Much of her early work focused on social and political critiques, as well as psychological exploration and gender roles. In the late 1970s, Lessing gained a deep interest in Sufism and moved to writing science fiction, publishing a series of novels called Canopus in Argos.

Lessing's writing has received many honors, including the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2007. She was the oldest person and the 11th woman to win the prize. She has been recognized as one of the most influential contemporary British writers. Her writing continues to receive scholarly attention, particularly for its impact and contribution to the development of feminist literature.


Study Guides on Works by Doris Lessing

Doris Lessing: Stories is a major compilation of the works of Doris Lessing, a British novelist and poet who was the recipient of the 2007 Nobel Prize for Literature. She is also notable for being the oldest person to ever receive this honor.

This...

British author Doris Lessing wrote the short novel The Fifth Child in 1998. It tells the story of a happily married couple, Harriet and David, who already have four children, but whose lives become fractured and difficult after the birth of Ben,...

The Good Terrorist is a political novel written in 1985 by British author Doris Lessing. Since its publication, it has been highly controversial; Lessing was inspired to write it after the Irish Republican Army left a bomb at Harrods, London's...

Doris Lessing was awarded the most prestigious honor in literature when she won the Nobel Prize in 2007. Along with novel The Golden Notebook, one of the works for she is best known and which contributed greatly to her becoming a Nobel laureate is...