Born: 22 October 1919, Kermanshah, Persia (now Iran)
Died: 17 November 2013, London, United Kingdom
Residence at the time of the award: United Kingdom
Prize motivation: "that epicist of the female experience, who with scepticism, fire and visionary power has subjected a divided civilisation to scrutiny"
Prize share: 1/1
Doris Lessing was born in Kermanshah, Persia (now Iran). Her father was a bank clerk and her mother a nurse. Her family later moved to Southern Rhodesia in 1925. Doris Lessing attended a convent school and a girls' school, but ended her studies at age 14 and moved from home. She went on to work as a nursemaid, telephonist, stenographer, and journalist, and published a few short stories. Lessing moved to London in 1949. She became involved in politics and social issues and actively took part in the campaign against nuclear weapons. Doris Lessing was married twice and had three children.
Doris Lessing's body of work comprises around 50 books and spans several genres. Her writing is characterized by penetrating studies of living conditions in the 20th century, behavioral patterns, and historical developments. Her most experimental novel, 'The Golden Notebook', from 1962, is a study of a woman's psyche and life situation, the lot of writers, sexuality, political ideas, and everyday life. Some of Doris Lessing's books reach into the future. Among other things, she portrays our civilization's final hour from the perspective of an extraterrestrial observer.