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British writer Lessing says Nobel win gives her 'royal flush'

British novelist Doris Lessing won the 2007 Nobel Prize in Literature, the Swedish Academy announced Thursday in Stockholm.

BritishwriterDoris Lessing, whose novelsexploreissues of race and gender, won the 2007 Nobel Prize in Literature, the Swedish Academy announced Thursday in Stockholm.

Writer Doris Lessing, pictured in 2006, has won the Nobel Prize for Literature for her work focused largely on gender and race. ((Martin Cleaver/Associated Press))

"I've won all the prizes in Europe, every bloody one. I'm delighted to win them all, the whole lot.… It's a royal flush," said the writer when accosted by media at her London home after she returned from a shopping trip.

While expressing the sentiment that the award did nothing for her artistically, she said she hoped it would at leastrenew interest in her work.

"I'm very pleased if I get some new readers."

The academy, in a written statement,called Lessing a great writer of the female experience, who with "skepticism, fire and visionary power has subjected a divided civilization to scrutiny."

"She has done more to chart the interior lives of women than anyone else writing today," Lessing's editor Nicholas Pearson told Bloomberg News.

Lessing took time to discuss her new project, Alfred and Emily,which at first imagines her parents as they might have lived if the First World War had neverhappened.

"I've given them lives, decent lives, the kind we live because we haven't had war, and that we take for granted," she said.

She calls the book "passionately anti-war," as the second part of the novel chronicles the effect of the conflict on her parents' lives.

Lessing, who turns 88 next week, published her first novel, The Grass Is Singing, in Great Britain in 1950. The book, set in Southern Rhodesia, chronicles the relationship between a white farmer's wife and her black servant.

Lessing's 1962 workThe Golden Notebookis considered a feminist classic andher breakthrough work.The bookmixes narrative techniquesincluding newspaper clippings, dreams and diaries to tell the story of character Anna Wulf and her thoughts on politics, men, sex and Africa.

Lessing, who now lives in London,was born to British parents on Oct. 22, 1919, in Kermanshah, Persia, now known asBakhtaran, Iran. The family moved to Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) in 1925 in the hopes of improving their incomes — Lessing's mother was a nurse, while her father was a bank official.

Worked as nanny and stenographer

Lessing quit her formal education at the age of 13, after studying at a convent boarding school. She went on to work as a nanny, telephonist, office worker, stenographer and journalist.

She married and divorced twice and had three children before moving to London in 1949 and establishing herself as a writer.

Lessing speaks to members of the media outside her home in north London on Thursday. Lessing, who turns 88 in just over a week, is said to be the oldest person to be honoured with the prestigious awards given by the Swedish Academy. ((Lefteris Pitarakis/ Associated Press))

"When you look at my life, you can go back to the late 1930s," she told the Associated Press in an interview last year. "What I saw was, first of all, Hitler, he was going to live forever. Mussolini was in for 10,000 years. You had the Soviet Union, which was, by definition, going to last forever. There was the British Empire — nobody imagined it could come to an end. So why should one believe in any kind of permanence?"

She has published dozens of works over the course of her career, including the semi-autobiographical Children of Violence series, which is largely set in Africa.

Lessingwas a vocal member of the British Communist party in the 1950s and campaigned actively against nuclear weapons. Because of her criticism of the government of South Africa, she was banned from the countryfor 39 years, until 1995.

She was also temporarily banned from Zimbabwe in 1956, and in her 1992 book African Laughter: Four Visits to Zimbabwe, she describes the journey she took back to the country in 1982.

Works of science fiction and fantasy

Lessing's work would delve in issues of spirituality and science fiction with novels such as Memoirs of a Survivor (1974) and Canopus in Argos: Archives (1979 to 1983).

Her most recent works include Time Bites (2004), a selection of essays based on her life experiences and The Cleft, published this year, which depicts a world without men.

She becomes only the 11th woman to win literature's most coveted prize in its 106-year history.

Turkish author Orhan Pamuk won last year's literature prize. Past winners include Harold Pinter, Toni Morrison and Saul Bellow.

The Nobel prizes, which are worth $1.5 million US, bear the name of dynamite inventor Alfred Nobel and were first awarded in 1901 in accordance withNobel's will.

The Nobel Peace Prize will be awarded Friday.

The award is formally presented to winners at a ceremony in Stockholm on Dec. 10, the anniversary of Nobel's death in 1896.

With files from the Associated Press

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