Monday, September 10, 2007

Doris Lessing (1919-)

Sierra Club


I don't know much about creative writing programs. But they're not telling the truth if they don't teach, one, that writing is hard work, and, two, that you have to give up a great deal of life, your personal life, to be a writer.


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Doris May Lessing was born of British parents in Persia (now Iran), in 1919 and moved with her family to Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) when she was five. She grew up in Africa and travelled to England for the first time in 1949, carrying with her the manuscript of her first novel, The Grass is Singing, which was published a year later (Michael Joseph, 1950). In her work In Pursuit of Englishness, (1960) Lessing went on to put down her experiences as a new migrant in London of the Fifties, especially the duality of a colonial subject brought face to face with the reality of life at the centre of the Empire. A tireless campaigner against all forms of colonialism and oppression in general, Lessing became for a time a member of the British Communist Party. She was banned from returning to Rhodesia by Ian Simth's regime and came to be known as one of the White voices from Africa who most compassionately identified with the Black majority. She has written novels, essays and reviews, and her science-fiction has long become the focus of a cult following. In recent years Doris Lessing's relationship with the new Zimbabwe has remained somewhat troubled, with works such as her accounts of her travels in Africa reflecting a sense of disillusionment with the way the new post-colonial nation has turned out. Her work has been translated into a number of languages and is regularly re-issued or re-printed. Among her major works are: The Golden Notebook (1962), Martha Quest and a Proper Marriage, The Four-Gated City (1969), The Fifth Child (1988), and Mara and Dann: An Adventure (1999) and Time Bites (2008). [Adapted from The University of Exeter]

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