Lessing receives her Nobel Prize (Photo: SHAUN CURRY/AFP/Getty Images)
The prolific novelist, playwright, poet and short story writer Doris Lessing has died at the age of 94, AP reports. She was best known for novels like The Golden Notebook, and in 2007, at 87, she became the oldest writer to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.
"Doris Lessing was a one of the great writers of our age," Charlie Redmayne, the CEO of Harper Collins UK, told BBC News. "She was a compelling storyteller with a fierce intellect and a warm heart who was not afraid to fight for what she believed in."
Her work often reflected on the legacy of colonialism. Lessing's first novel, The Grass Is Singing, which explores the racial politics of Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), was an international sensation when it was published in 1950. Her best-known work, 1962's The Golden Notebook, has often been referred to as a "feminist bible" (something Lessing said in 2007 "never occured to me" when she was writing it), and has been hailed for its complex, post-modern structure, which interweaves the story of a writer named Anna Wulf with diaries, notebooks and comments on the work itself.
"The Golden Notebook for some reason surprised people but it was no more than you would hear women say in their kitchens every day in any country," Lessing told the BBC about the book's reception. "I was really astounded that some people were shocked.
Lessing was born in Kermanshah, Persia (now Iran) in 1919 to two British expats, and grew up on a farm in Southern Rhodesia. She left school, an all-girls Catholic convent in Harare, at the age of 14, and was twice married and divorced. After the end of her second marriage, Lessing lived out the last five decades of her life in London.
When it selected her for the Nobel prize in 2007, the Swedish Academy described Lessing as "that epicist of the female experience, who with scepticism, fire and visionary power has subjected a divided civilisation to scrutiny." Her publisher, HarperCollins, told AP that the author died peacefully earlier today.