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Doris Lessing, 88, has back problems and won't be travelling to Stockholm to receive the Nobel Prize. ((Associated Press))

British writer Doris Lessing will be unable to travel to Stockholm to accept her Nobel Prize on Dec. 10, the Nobel Foundation said Wednesday.

Lessing, 88, is suffering from back problems and doctors have advised her not to travel.

"She has back problems. I don't have any further information on it, but she can't travel because of it," said foundation spokeswoman Annika Pontikis.

Lessing will be presented with the award in London and her lecture, a tradition among Nobel laureates, will be prerecorded and shown in Stockholm Dec. 10.

The award is worth 10 million Swedish krona ($1.6 million Cdn)and is presented on the anniversary of the death of prize founder Alfred Nobel in 1896.

In choosing her for the honour, the academy described the author of The Golden Notebook as "that epicist of the female experience who with skepticism, fire and visionary power has subjected a divided civilization to scrutiny."

Her novels over five decades have covered feminism and politics, as well as her youth in Africa.

The much-decorated author was underwhelmed when notified of the prize in October.

"I can't say I'm overwhelmed with surprise," Lessing said. "I'm 88 years old and they can't give the Nobel to someone who's dead, so I think they were probably thinking they'd probably better give it to me now before I've popped off."

Last year's winner, Turkish writer Orhan Pamuk, attended the Nobel Week festivities in Stockholm, but thetwo winners before him — Austrian novelist Elfriede Jelinek in 2004 and British playwright Harold Pinter in 2005 — missed the ceremony.