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).
(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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