87 year old British author Doris Lessing has been awarded this year’s Nobel Prize for Literature. Best known for her 1962 postmodern feminist work The Golden Notebook, Lessing is only the 6th woman to win the prize in its 106 year history and is also the oldest ever recipient.
Talking to the BBC Lessing expressed surprise that she had been given the award, recalling that in the 1960s ‘they sent one of their minions especially to tell me they didn’t like me at the Nobel Prize and I would never get it’! However receiving this prize means that Lessing has now won every single major European literary award in a career that spans 6 decades.
Lessing was born in Persia (now Iran) and grew up in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), moving to England in 1949 and many of her foremost novels are drawn from her childhood experiences in Africa. Announcing the award the Swedish Nobel Academy said that Lessing was ‘that epicist of the female experience, who with scepticism, fire and visionary power has subjected a divided civilisation to scrutiny’.
Lessing’s other major works include Memoirs of a Survivor and The Summer Before the Dark, but in more recent decades she has moved away from feminism and social realism and turned her attention to literary science fiction and two critically acclaimed volumes of her autobiograhpy.