DORIS LESSING Biography - Writers


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Doris Lessing                                                                           
Born 22 October 1919 (age 88)                                                           
Occupation Writer                                                                       
Nationality British                                                                     
Literary movement Modernism, Science fiction                                             
Debut works The Grass Is Singing (1950)                                                 
Spouse Frank Charles Wisdom (1939-1943)                                                 
Gottfried Anton Nicolai Lessing (1945-1949)                                             
Influences Idries Shah, Olive Schreiner, Simone de Beauvoir, Sartre, Dostoyevsky,       
Brontë sisters, Christina Stead, DH Lawrence, Stendhal, Virginia Woolf, Mikhail         
Bulgakov Olaf Stapledon                                                                 
Influenced Alexandra Fuller, Elaine Showalter, Octavia Butler, Rachel Blau               
DuPlessis, Erica Jong, Toni Morrison, Joanna Russ, Marge Piercy, Joyce Carol             
Oates, Margaret Atwood                                                                   
Website Doris Lessing: A Retrospective                                                   
Doris Lessing CH OBE (born Doris May Tayler in Kermanshah, Persia, on 22                 
October 1919) is a British writer, author of works such as the novels The               
Grass is Singing and The Golden Notebook.                                               
In 2007, Lessing won the Nobel Prize in Literature. She was described by the             
Swedish Academy as "that epicist of the female experience, who with scepticism,         
fire and visionary power has subjected a divided civilisation to scrutiny".             
Lessing is the eleventh woman to win the prize in its 106-year history,                 
and also the oldest person ever to win the literature award.                             
Lessing was born to Captain Alfred Tayler and Emily Maude Tayler,                       
who were both English and of British nationality. Her father, who had lost a             
leg during his service in World War I, met his future wife, a nurse, at the             
Royal Free Hospital where he was recovering from his amputation.                         
Alfred Tayler moved his family to Kermanshah, in Persia (now Iran), in order to         
take up a job as a clerk for the Imperial Bank of Persia and it was here that           
Doris was born in 1919. The family then moved to the British colony of                   
Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) in 1925 to farm maize, when Lessing's father           
purchased around one thousand acres of bush. Lessing's mother attempted to lead         
an Edwardian life style amongst the rough environment, which would have been             
easy had the family been wealthy; it was not. The farm was not successful and           
failed to deliver the wealth Lessing's parents had expected.                             
Lessing was educated at the Dominican Convent High School, a Roman Catholic             
convent all-girls school in Salisbury (now Harare). Lessing left school aged             
14, and thereafter was self-educated. She left home at 15 and worked as a               
nursemaid, and it was around this time that Lessing started reading material on         
politics and sociology that her employer gave her to read. She began writing             
around this time. In 1937, Lessing moved to Salisbury to work as a telephone             
operator, and she soon married her first husband, Frank Wisdom, with whom she           
had two children, before the marriage ended in 1943.                                     
Following her divorce, Lessing was drawn to the Left Book Club, a communist book         
club, and it was here that she met her second husband, Gottfried Lessing.               
They were married shortly after she joined the group and had a child together,           
before the marriage also ended in divorce in 1949. Gottfried Lessing later               
became the East German ambassador to Uganda, and was murdered in the 1979               
rebellion against Idi Amin Dada.