Doris Lessing
Doris May Lessing CH
Order of the Companions of Honour
The Order of the Companions of Honour is an order of the Commonwealth realms. It was founded by King George V in June 1917, as a reward for outstanding achievements in the arts, literature, music, science, politics, industry or religion....

 (née Tayler; born 22 October 1919) is a British
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

A writer is a person who produces literature, such as novels, short stories, plays, screenplays, poetry, or other literary art. Skilled writers are able to use language to portray ideas and images....

. Her novels include The Grass is Singing
The Grass Is Singing
The Grass Is Singing is the first novel, published in 1950, by British Nobel Prize-winning author Doris Lessing. It takes place in Rhodesia , in southern Africa, during the 1940s and deals with the racial politics between whites and blacks in that country...

, The Golden Notebook
The Golden Notebook
The Golden Notebook is a 1962 novel by Doris Lessing. This book, as well as the couple that followed it, enters the realm of what Margaret Drabble in The Oxford Companion to English Literature has called Lessing's "inner space fiction", her work that explores mental and societal breakdown...

, and five novels collectively known as Canopus in Argos
Canopus in Argos
Canopus in Argos: Archives is a sequence of five science fiction novels by Nobel Prize in Literature-winning author Doris Lessing which portray a number of societies at different stages of development, over a great period of time...


Lessing was awarded the 2007 Nobel Prize in Literature
Nobel Prize in Literature
Since 1901, the Nobel Prize in Literature has been awarded annually to an author from any country who has, in the words from the will of Alfred Nobel, produced "in the field of literature the most outstanding work in an ideal direction"...

. She was described by the Swedish Academy
Swedish Academy
The Swedish Academy , founded in 1786 by King Gustav III, is one of the Royal Academies of Sweden.-History:The Swedish Academy was founded in 1786 by King Gustav III. Modelled after the Académie française, it has 18 members. The motto of the Academy is "Talent and Taste"...

 as "that epicist of the female experience, who with scepticism, fire and visionary power has subjected a divided civilisation to scrutiny". Lessing was the eleventh woman and the oldest ever person to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature.

In 2001, Lessing was awarded the David Cohen Prize
David Cohen Prize
The David Cohen Prize for Literature is a biennial British literary award given to a writer, novelist, short-story writer, poet, essayist or dramatist in recognition of an entire body of work, written in the English language. The prize is funded by the John S. Cohen Foundation and administered by...

 for a lifetime's achievement in British Literature
British literature
British Literature refers to literature associated with the United Kingdom, Isle of Man and Channel Islands. By far the largest part of British literature is written in the English language, but there are bodies of written works in Latin, Welsh, Scottish Gaelic, Scots, Cornish, Manx, Jèrriais,...


It is terrible to destroy a person's picture of himself in the interests of truth or some other abstraction.

The Grass Is Singing|The Grass Is Singing, ch. 2 (1950)

In university they don't tell you that the greater part of the law is learning to tolerate fools.

Martha Quest (1952), Part III, ch. 2

If a fish is the movement of water embodied, given shape, then cat is a diagram and pattern of subtle air.

Particularly Cats, ch. 2 (1967)

That is what learning is. You suddenly understand something you've understood all your life, but in a new way.

The Four-Gated City|The Four-Gated City (1969)

Literature is analysis after the event.

Quoted in Children of Albion: Poetry of the Underground in Britain, ed. Michael Horovitz (1969): Afterwords, section 2

Laughter is by definition healthy.

The Summer Before the Dark (1973)

Nonsense, it was all nonsense: this whole damned outfit, with its committees, its conferences, its eternal talk, talk, talk, was a great con trick; it was a mechanism to earn a few hundred men and women incredible sums of money.

The Summer Before the Dark (1973)

You know, whenever women make imaginary female kingdoms in literature, they are always very permissive, to use the jargon word, and easy and generous and self-indulgent, like the relationships between women when there are no men around. They make each other presents, and they have little feasts, and nobody punishes anyone else. This is the female way of going along when there are no men about or when men are not in the ascendant.

New York Times Book Review (30 March 1980), p. 24

It can be considered a rule that the probable duration of an Empire may be prognosticated by the degree to which its rulers believe in their own propaganda.

The Sentimental Agents in the Volyen Empire (1983), p. 94, Flamingo edition