Lessing, Doris

Lessing, Doris

Lessing, Doris, 1919-, British novelist, b. Kermanshah, Persia (now Iran) as Doris May Tayler. Largely self-educated, she was brought up on a farm in Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), and in 1949 went to England, where her first novel, The Grass Is Singing (1950), was published. Widely regarded as one of the major writers of the mid-20th cent. and an influential figure among feminists, Lessing writes on a wide variety of themes including Rhodesia, women, communism, and global catastrophe. Distinguished for its energy and intelligence, her work is principally concerned with the lives of women—their psychology, sexuality, politics, work, relationship to men and to their children, and their change of vision as they age. In her later books she has mainly focused on efforts by individuals to resist society's pressures toward marginalization and acculturation.

Throughout Lessing's work run currents of realism and fantasy, each of which dominate in some novels and mingle in others. Her fiction includes a series of five novels collectively entitled The Children of Violence, which concern a semiautobiographical character named Martha Quest; the series includes Martha Quest (1952), Ripple from the Storm (1958), and The Four-Gated City (1969). A series of five science-fiction novels is collectively entitled Canopus in Argos: Archives, of which The Making of the Representative for Planet 8 (1982) is best known. One of her most influential works, The Golden Notebook (1962), a study of the struggles of a woman writer, served as an inspiration to the feminist movement of the 1960s and 70s, and is now considered a classic of feminist fiction.

Among Lessing's other novels are Briefing for a Descent into Hell (1971); The Summer before the Dark (1973); The Good Terrorist (1985); The Fifth Child (1988) and its sequel, Ben, in the World (2000); The Sweetest Dream (2001), a semiautobiographical tale of the 1960s; The Grandmothers (2003); and The Cleft (2007). To dramatize the plight of unknown novelists, Lessing wrote two novels, The Diary of a Good Neighbour (1983) and If the Old Could (1984), under the pseudonym of Jane Somers; they were ignored by critics until Lessing revealed their true authorship. She is well known for her short stories and has also written essays, e.g., Time Bites (2005). Lessing was awarded the 2007 Nobel Prize in Literature.

See her volumes of autobiography, Under My Skin (1994) and Walking in the Shade (1997) and her part-novel, part-memoir Alfred & Emily (2008); biographies by A. Myles (1990) and C. Klein (2000); studies by R. Rubinstein (1979), I. Homquist (1980), M. Knapp (1984), C. Sprague and V. Tiger (1986), J. Pickering (1990), and M. Rowe (1994).

orig. Doris May Tayler

(born Oct. 22, 1919, Kermānshāh, Persia [now Iran]) British novelist and short-story writer. She lived on a farm in Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) from 1924 to 1949 before settling in England and beginning her writing career. Her works, which have often reflected her leftist political activism, are largely concerned with people caught in social and political upheavals. Children of Violence (1952–69), a semiautobiographical five-novel series featuring the character Martha Quest, reflects her African experience and is among her most substantial works. The Golden Notebook (1962), her most widely read novel, is a feminist classic. Her masterful short stories are published in several collections. Other works include a science-fiction novel sequence, several novels published under the pseudonym Jane Somers, the volumes of autobiography Under My Skin (1994) and Walking in the Shade (1997), and collections of essays, including Time Bites (2004). She won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2007.

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Doris may refer to:

People

Geography and history

Geodesy and astronomy

Naval history

  • In naval history, Doris was a French coastal submarine of the Sirène class. At 00.14 hours on 9 May 1940, the Doris (CdC Favreul) was torpedoed and sunk north west off the Dutch Coast, 30 miles from Den Helder, by the German submarine U-9.
  • HMS Doris, name of five ships of the British Royal Navy

Other

  • Doris, a genus of marine opisthobranch gastropod molluscs, specifically a nudibranch
  • Doris (band), a Swedish pop group between 1966 and a few years into the 1970s
  • Doris (opera), 1889 opera by Alfred Cellier

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