Vale Doris Lessing

Nobel Prize-winning author Doris Lessing has passed away at the age of 94.

Born in Iran and brought up in the African bush in Zimbabwe, Lessing had lived in London for more than 50 years and was the author of more than fifty novels - much-loved for her ‘no-nonsense’ attitude. (You can watch her hilariously underwhelming reaction to becoming the oldest winner of the Nobel Prize at age 88 here.)

Here’s a collection of memories from readers around the internet:

‘…Lessing achieved the distinction of a spontaneous standing ovation upon entering the room, a tiny figure dressed entirely in black, stolid as a carved deity. “I read your book in 1964 when I was 20,” one woman said, almost tearfully, “and you saved my life”, a sentiment echoed by women of all ages in the room.’

(Lisa Allardice from The Guardian.)

‘The first novel of Lessing’s I ever read was Martha Quest, the opening volume in the Children of Violence series. I was in high school. I fell in love with this semi-autobiographical narrative of adolescence and young adulthood on the southern African veldt in the inter-war years, and envied the political and literary education the titular character cobbles together from books passed on by her young Jewish socialist friends, the Cohen brothers’

(Sophia Barnes from Sydney Review of Books.)

‘So there I was, sitting in a park alongside a river in Germany, and I had planned to read for only twenty minutes or so. It was cold; I had somewhere to be. I read The Golden Notebook for more than two hours, my feet jiggling up and down so as not to go numb, my hands taking turns to hold the pages while the other was tucked beneath my thigh for warmth. I cried in the kind of desolate manner that brings no relief.’

(Melanie Joosten from Meanjin.)