Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Doris Lessing

Martin Cleaver/Associated Press

Doris Lessing, the winner of the 2007 Nobel Prize in literature, described by Irving Howe as “the archaeologist of human relations,” and by the Swedish Academy as an “epicist of the female experience, who with skepticism, fire and visionary power has subjected a divided civilization to scrutiny,” was 88 when she won the award.

Born: 22 October 1919
Birthplace: Kermanshah, Iran

She is often called a feminist, although she denied being a feminism, and she wrote against communism, although she was once a communist.

Doris Lessing

Doris Lessing grew up in Zimbabwe (then Southern Rhodesia) and spoke out against its racist white minority government until she was finally exiled from the country, not to return until after it won its independence in 1980.

THURSDAY MAY 5, 1994 On The Commanding Self by Idries Shah (Re-printed from The London Times)


Doris Lessing pays tribute to a great exponent of Sufism

Thirty years ago there appeared The Sufis, a book which at once announced itself as unlike any other. Hundreds of books by non-Sufis appear every year, disappear without trace or wash up on obscure shelves in academic libraries. This book was at once "recognised" -- a Sufi term which may be summed up by "like calls to like" -- by a remarkable range of people, many of them poets. The Sufis is a classic, and was by Idries Shah, who represents a genuine mystic tradition -- there are many imitators.

Since then he has written or compiled over 30 books, providing a comprehensive experience of the Sufi view of life. The whole body of work, together with his reissuing of still relevant Sufi classics, adds up to a many-faceted whole. There are people who have taken part in this process, book by book. Others have found this or that book useful or entertaining. The Commanding Self is both a summing up of a third of a century's work, and a development. People who have stayed the course will find similar ideas here, but put into a new context or taken a step further, sometimes unexpectedly.

"The commanding self" is a Sufi term for the false personality. Their contention is that we are all products of ideas put into us by our parents, by our culture, by the time we live in, and that what is real in us is very small (and precious). It is this part the Sufis aim to reach and teach. Some people, hearing that nearly everything they seem to be is only a mask made by conditioning, will say, "Well, of course!" -- and want more information, while others may feel threatened. The picture on the cover is a photograph of an ancient figurine, a representation of the commanding self, like a savage dog. "Do you want to live an angry biting life?" A very old philosophy or way of looking at life has been openly introduced into a culture -- the West -- that has had little contact with it. Which is not to say that Sufism has not been at work in every country, this one too, sometimes secretly. What the Sufis offer is seen by them as a kind of yeast, or energising stream. All our associations with the word mysticism are wrong or limited. For instance, the word "Sufism" is a recent German coinage, and not used by Sufis. "Isms" are foreign to the nature of something felt as a process or a development. Ignorance causes bafflement. Highly educated people, hearing the word "mysticism," may say they have no time for table- turning, seances, gurus, whirling dervishes, ESP, encounter groups and so on. A familiarity with the ancient ideas behind mysticism has not been part of our curriculum. People who have had 20 years of our kind of education may suddenly fall victim to a charlatan or a cult: they are highly developed in one area but left ignorant and defenceless in others. Sufis say it took 800 years of preparatory work to get Islam to accept them: they take a long-term view of the human condition. Then Islam claimed the Sufis as its property, and in our reference books Sufism is defined as a mystical Islamic sect. This philosophy, or Way, antedates Islam; claims to be the inner part or essence of every religion, is not interested in labels or definitions, and is continually reappearing, openly or in a disguised form, in every culture. A new Sufi appearance is always within the terms of the host culture, is never an exotic, thrives, does its work, and dies, leaving behind "husks." It is these dead forms that litter every culture and they are what most people see first. Shah has said often that a main difficulty in teaching is to prevent the material from being made into a system, yet another rigid framework of ideas, or a cult. This will happen in due course: it always does. Meanwhile here is the real thing, alive and full of juice and energy. People tempted to sample this pretty astonishing phenomenon could not do better than try this book. They will find the word mysticism has lost its bizarre associations, and that the Way of the Sufi (the title of one of Shah's books) reveals itself as a sophisticated view of life, embodied in people who through the centuries have always been in advance of their time. Sufis claim that all kinds of notions we think of as Western achievements were part of Sufi knowledge long ago: evolution, for instance, or the power locked in the atom. Their sociological and psychological insights are far in advance of our current ideas. These are most skilled and versatile servants. I have been a student for three decades, and am continually being surprised by what I learn. I have found nothing as informed, subtle, comprehensive, perceptive, anywhere else. Sufi uses of literature are certainly full of surprises. For thousands of years the teaching story has been a Sufi instrument. "Their effects on the innermost part of the human mind is direct and certain." Teaching stories are not didactic, not parables -- a form some of us at least are still familiar with. Parables are open to a simple interpretation: this tale means this or means that. Being introduced to the great treasurehouse of Sufi literature taught this writer, at least, a realistic view of her talents. There are wonderful tales here, some long, some very short. An elephant and a mouse fell in love. On the wedding night the elephant keeled over and died. The mouse said, "Oh Fate! I have unknowingly bartered one moment of pleasure and tons of imagination for a life time of digging a grave." There is not a grain of sentimentality in this view of life. A tortoise carries a stranded scorpion across a river. The scorpion stings the tortoise who demands indignantly: "My nature is to be helpful. I have helped you and now you sting me." "My friend," says the scorpion, "your nature is to be helpful. Mine is to sting. Why do you seek to transform your nature into a virtue and mine into villainy?"


In ''Walking in the Shade,'' published in 1997, she still refers to Sufism as ''the main current in my life, deeper than any other, my real preoccupation.''



Doris Lessing was born Doris May Taylor in Persia (now Iran) on October 22, 1919. Both of her parents were British: her father, who had been crippled in World War I, was a clerk in the Imperial Bank of Persia; her mother had been a nurse. In 1925, lured by the promise of getting rich through maize farming, the family moved to the British colony in Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). Doris's mother adapted to the rough life in the settlement, energetically trying to reproduce what was, in her view, a civilized, Edwardian life among savages; but her father did not, and the thousand-odd acres of bush he had bought failed to yield the promised wealth.

Lessing has described her childhood as an uneven mix of some pleasure and much pain. The natural world, which she explored with her brother, Harry, was one retreat from an otherwise miserable existence. Her mother, obsessed with raising a proper daughter, enforced a rigid system of rules and hygiene at home, then installed Doris in a convent school, where nuns terrified their charges with stories of hell and damnation. Lessing was later sent to an all-girls high school in the capital of Salisbury, from which she soon dropped out. She was thirteen; and it was the end of her formal education.

But like other women writers from southern African who did not graduate from high school (such as Olive Schreiner and Nadine Gordimer), Lessing made herself into a self-educated intellectual. She recently commented that unhappy childhoods seem to produce fiction writers. "Yes, I think that is true. Though it wasn't apparent to me then. Of course, I wasn't thinking in terms of being a writer then - I was just thinking about how to escape, all the time." The parcels of books ordered from London fed her imagination, laying out other worlds to escape into. Lessing's early reading included Dickens, Scott, Stevenson, Kipling; later she discovered D.H. Lawrence, Stendhal, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky. Bedtime stories also nurtured her youth: her mother told them to the children and Doris herself kept her younger brother awake, spinning out tales. Doris's early years were also spent absorbing her fathers bitter memories of World War I, taking them in as a kind of "poison." "We are all of us made by war," Lessing has written, "twisted and warped by war, but we seem to forget it."

In flight from her mother, Lessing left home when she was fifteen and took a job as a nursemaid. Her employer gave her books on politics and sociology to read, while his brother-in-law crept into her bed at night and gave her inept kisses. During that time she was, Lessing has written, "in a fever of erotic longing." Frustrated by her backward suitor, she indulged in elaborate romantic fantasies. She was also writing stories, and sold two to magazines in South Africa.

Lessing's life has been a challenge to her belief that people cannot resist the currents of their time, as she fought against the biological and cultural imperatives that fated her to sink without a murmur into marriage and motherhood. "There is a whole generation of women," she has said, speaking of her mother's era, "and it was as if their lives came to a stop when they had children. Most of them got pretty neurotic - because, I think, of the contrast between what they were taught at school they were capable of being and what actually happened to them." Lessing believes that she was freer than most people because she became a writer. For her, writing is a process of "setting at a distance," taking the "raw, the individual, the uncriticized, the unexamined, into the realm of the general."

In 1937 she moved to Salisbury, where she worked as a telephone operator for a year. At nineteen, she married Frank Wisdom, and had two children. A few years later, feeling trapped in a persona that she feared would destroy her, she left her family, remaining in Salisbury. Soon she was drawn to the like-minded members of the Left Book Club, a group of Communists "who read everything, and who did not think it remarkable to read." Gottfried Lessing was a central member of the group; shortly after she joined, they married and had a son.

During the postwar years, Lessing became increasingly disillusioned with the Communist movement, which she left altogether in 1954. By 1949, Lessing had moved to London with her young son. That year, she also published her first novel, The Grass Is Singing, and began her career as a professional writer.

Lessing's fiction is deeply autobiographical, much of it emerging out of her experiences in Africa. Drawing upon her childhood memories and her serious engagement with politics and social concerns, Lessing has written about the clash of cultures, the gross injustices of racial inequality, the struggle among opposing elements within an individuals own personality, and the conflict between the individual conscience and the collective good. Her stories and novellas set in Africa, published during the fifties and early sixties, decry the dispossession of black Africans by white colonials, and expose the sterility of the white culture in southern Africa. In 1956, in response to Lessing's courageous outspokenness, she was declared a prohibited alien in both Southern Rhodesia and South Africa.

Over the years, Lessing has attempted to accommodate what she admires in the novels of the nineteenth century - their "climate of ethical judgement" - to the demands of twentieth-century ideas about consciousness and time. After writing the Children of Violence series (1951-1959), a formally conventional bildungsroman (novel of education) about the growth in consciousness of her heroine, Martha Quest, Lessing broke new ground with The Golden Notebook (1962), a daring narrative experiment, in which the multiple selves of a contemporary woman are rendered in astonishing depth and detail. Anna Wulf, like Lessing herself, strives for ruthless honesty as she aims to free herself from the chaos, emotional numbness, and hypocrisy afflicting her generation.

Attacked for being "unfeminine" in her depiction of female anger and aggression, Lessing responded, "Apparently what many women were thinking, feeling, experiencing came as a great surprise." As at least one early critic noticed, Anna Wulf "tries to live with the freedom of a man" - a point Lessing seems to confirm: "These attitudes in male writers were taken for granted, accepted as sound philosophical bases, as quite normal, certainly not as woman-hating, aggressive, or neurotic."

In the 1970s and 1980s, Lessing began to explore more fully the quasi-mystical insight Anna Wulf seems to reach by the end of The Golden Notebook. Her "inner-space fiction" deals with cosmic fantasies (Briefing for a Descent into Hell, 1971), dreamscapes and other dimensions (Memoirs of a Survivor, 1974), and science fiction probings of higher planes of existence (Canopus in Argos: Archives, 1979-1983). These reflect Lessing's interest, since the 1960s, in Idries Shah, whose writings on Sufi mysticism stress the evolution of consciousness and the belief that individual liberation can come about only if people understand the link between their own fates and the fate of society.

Lessing's other novels include The Good Terrorist (1985) and The Fifth Child (1988); she also published two novels under the pseudonym Jane Somers (The Diary of a Good Neighbour, 1983 and If the Old Could..., 1984). In addition, she has written several nonfiction works, including books about cats, a love since childhood. Under My Skin: Volume One of My Autobiography, to 1949 appeared in 1995 and received the James Tait Black Prize for best biography.

Addenda (by Jan Hanford)

In June 1995 she received an Honorary Degree from Harvard University. Also in 1995, she visited South Africa to see her daughter and grandchildren, and to promote her autobiography. It was her first visit since being forcibly removed in 1956 for her political views. Ironically, she is welcomed now as a writer acclaimed for the very topics for which she was banished 40 years ago.

She collaborated with illustrator Charlie Adlard to create the unique and unusual graphic novel, Playing the Game. After being out of print in the U.S. for more than 30 years, Going Home and In Pursuit of the English were republished by HarperCollins in 1996. These two fascinating and important books give rare insight into Mrs. Lessing's personality, life and views.

In 1996, her first novel in 7 years, Love Again, was published by HarperCollins. She did not make any personal appearances to promote the book. In an interview, she describes the frustration she felt during a 14-week worldwide tour to promote her autobiography: "I told my publishers it would be far more useful for everyone if I stayed at home, writing another book. But they wouldn't listen. This time round I stamped my little foot and said I would not move from my house and would do only one interview." And the honors keep on coming: she was on the list of nominees for the Nobel Prize for Literature and Britain's Writer's Guild Award for Fiction in 1996.

Late in the year, HarperCollins published Play with A Tiger and Other Plays, a compilation of 3 of her plays: Play with a Tiger, The Singing Door and Each His Own Wilderness. In an unexplained move, HarperCollins only published this volume in the U.K. and it is not available in the U.S., to the disappointment of her North American readers.

In 1997 she collaborated with Philip Glass for the second time, providing the libretto for the opera "The Marriages Between Zones Three, Four and Five" which premiered in Heidelberg, Germany in May. Walking in the Shade, the anxiously awaited second volume of her autobiography, was published in October and was nominated for the 1997 National Book Critics Circle Award in the biography/autobiography category. This volume documents her arrival in England in 1949 and takes us up to the publication of The Golden Notebook. This is the final volume of her autobiography, she will not be writing a third volume.

Her new novel, titled "Mara and Dann", was been published in the U.S in January 1999 and in the U.K. in April 1999. In an interview in the London Daily Telegraph she said, "I adore writing it. I'll be so sad when it's finished. It's freed my mind." 1999 also saw her first experience on-line, with a chat at Barnes & Noble (transcript). In May 1999 she will be presented with the XI Annual International Catalunya Award, an award by the government of Catalunya.

December 31 1999: In the U.K.'s last Honours List before the new Millennium, Doris Lessing was appointed a Companion of Honour, an exclusive order for those who have done "conspicuous national service." She revealed she had turned down the offer of becoming a Dame of the British Empire because there is no British Empire. Being a Companion of Honour, she explained, means "you're not called anything - and it's not demanding. I like that". Being a Dame was "a bit pantomimey". The list was selected by the Labor Party government to honor people in all walks of life for their contributions to their professions and to charity. It was officially bestowed by Queen Elizabeth II.

In January, 2000 the National Portrait Gallery in London unveiled Leonard McComb's portrait of Doris Lessing.

Ben, in the World, the sequel to The Fifth Child was published in Spring 2000 (U.K.) and Summer 2000 (U.S.). Another new novel is planned for next year.



  • The short story The Pig published in TREK 12, April 1948
  • The short story Flight published in TREK 12 , September 1948


  • The Pig (short story) and Flight (short story), publshed in TREK, 12 (April 1948)


  • The short story Under My Hand published in TREK 13 , February 1949
  • The short story Fruit From Ashes published in TREK13 , October 1949


  • The Grass Is Singing
      Michael Joseph, 1950
      Penquin, 1961
      Heinemann Educ, 1973
      Grafton, 1980
      Paladin, 1989
      Penquin (Adaptation - retold by Andy Hopkins and Joc Potter), 1992
      Flamingo (HarperCollins), 1994
      New York:
      Crowell, 1950
      Bantam Books, 1952
      Ballantine Books, 1964
      Popular Library, 1970's.
      New American Library (A Plume Book), 1976
      Plume, 1995
      HarperPerennial (HarperCollins), 1999

  • The Nuissance (short story) published in Towards the Sun: A Miscellany of Southern Africa, edited by Roy Macnab. London: Collins.


  • This Was the Old Chief's Country


  • Martha Quest, the first volume of Children of Violence
      Michael Joseph, 1952
      MacGibbon & Kee, 1965 (in one volume with A Proper Marriage)
      Panther, 1969
      Hart-Davis/Granada, 1977
      HarperCollins, 1993
      New York:
      Simon & Schuster, 1964 (in one volume with A Proper Marriage)
      Signet, 1966
      Plume (Penquin), 1970
      Plume, 1993
      HarperPerennial (HarperCollins), 1995
      San Bernardino, CA:
      Borgo Press, 1995


  • Five: Short Novels
      Michael Joseph, 1953
      Penguin, 1960
      Granada, 1969
      Panther, 1972
      Paladin, 1991

  • Before the Deluge (play) later called Mr. Dolinger (1958).


  • A Proper Marriage, the second volume of Children of Violence
      Michael Joseph, 1954
      MacGibbon & Kee, 1965 (in one volume with Martha Quest)
      Granada, 1977
      Grafton, 1990
      HarperCollins, 1993
      New York:
      Simon & Schuster, 1964 (in one volume with Martha Quest)
      Plume (Penquin), 1970
      HarperPerennial (HarperCollins), 1995
      San Bernardino, CA:
      Borgo Press, 1995

  • Received Somerset Maugham Award of the Society of Authors for Five: Short Novels.
  • A Road to the Big City (short story), Pick of Today's Short Stories 5.


  • A Mild Attack of Locusts (short story), published in the New Yorker, February 26, 1955.
  • Through The Tunnel (short story), published in the New Yorker, August 6, 1955.


  • Retreat to Innocence
      Michael Joseph, 1956
      Sphere Books, 1967
      New York:
      Prometheus (Liberty Book Club), 1959

  • Myself As Spokesman (essay), New Yorker, 31, January 21, 1956 (also referred to as "Myself as Sportsman" in some sources)
  • Being Prohibited (essay), New Statesman and Nation, 51, April 2, 1956
  • Kariba Project (essay), New Statesman and Nation, 51, June 9, 1956
  • Plea for the Hated Dead Woman (poem), New Statesman and Nation, 51, June 30, 1956


  • Going Home
      Michael Joseph, 1957
      Panther, 1968
      Flamingo (HarperCollins), 1992
      New York:
      Ballantine Books, 1968
      Popular Library, 1970's
      HarperPerennial (HarperCollins), 1996

  • The Habit of Loving
      MacGibbon & Kee, 1957
      Panther, 1966
      Flamingo (HarperCollins), 1993
      New York:
      Crowell, 1958
      Ballantine, 196?
      Popular Library, 196?

  • The Black Madonna (short story), published in Winter's Tales 3. London: Macmillan.

  • The Small Personal Voice (essay), in Declaration
      MacGibbon & Kee, 1957
      Reader's Union, 1959
      New York:
      E. P. Dutton & Co., 1958

  • Flavours of Exile (short story) published in The London Magazine - Vol. 4, No. 2., edited by John Lehmann; London: Chatto & Windus. 1957.
  • Tobacco Farm (article) with drawings by Paul Hogarth, published In "The Countryman, A Quarterly Non-Party Review and Miscellany of Rural Life and Work for the English-speaking World", Volume LIV, No. 2, Summer 1957.


  • A Ripple from the Storm, the third volume of Children of Violence
      Michael Joseph, 1958
      MacGibbon & Kee, 1965
      Panther/Granada, 1966
      Hart-Davis, MacGibbon, 1977
      Paladin, 1990
      Flamingo (HarperCollins), 1993
      New York:
      Simon & Schuster, 1966 (in one volume with Landlocked)
      Plume (New American Library), 1970 (reprinted by Plume/Penquin)
      HarperPerennial (HarperCollins), 1995
      San Bernardino, CA:
      Borgo Press, 1995

  • Mr. Dolinger (play) (also know under the title Before the Deluge), was produced at the Oxford Playhouse, England. The play is unpublished.
  • Each His Own Wilderness (play) was performed by the English Stage Society at the Royal Court Theatre, London, on 23 March.
  • London Diary (essay), New Statesman, 55, March 15, 1958.
  • London Diary (essay), New Statesman, 55, March 22, 1958.
  • Desert Child (essay), New Statesman, 56, November 15, 1958.


  • Each His Own Wilderness (play) published in New English Dramatists, Three Plays introduced and edited by E. Martin Browne. (Each His Own Wilderness, Doris Lessing; The Hamlet of Stepney Green, Bernard Kops; Chicken Soup with Barley, Arnold Wesker.)
      Penquin, 1959;
      Flamingo (HarperCollins), 1996 (Play with a Tiger and Other Plays)

  • Fourteen Poems

  • Crisis in Central Africa: The Fruits of Humbug (essay), Twentieth Century, 165, April 1959.


  • In Pursuit of the English: A Documentary
      MacGibbon & Kee, 1960
      Sphere Books Limited, 1968
      Granada, 1977
      Panther/Granada, 1980
      Flamingo (HarperCollins), 1993
      New York:
      Simon & Schuster, 1961
      Ballantine Books, 1966
      Popular Library, 1970's
      HarperPerennial (HarperCollins), 1996

  • In Pursuit of the English (excerpt), Alienation. London: MacGibbon & Kee.
  • Through the Tunnel (short story), published in Great Stories From The World of Sport, editors Peter Schwed and Herbert Warren Wind. London: Heineman.
  • Ordinary People (essay), New Statesman, 59, June 25, 1960.
  • Our Friend Judith (short story), Partisan Review, 27, Summer 1960.


  • The Truth About Billy Newton (play) was produced Salisbury, Wiltshire, England. The play is unpublished.
  • African Interiors (essay), New Statesman, 62, October 27, 1961.
  • Letter to the Editor, New Statesman, 62, November 3, 1961.
  • Smart Set Socialists (essay), New Statesman, 62, December 1, 1961.
  • Homage for Isaac Babel (short story), New Statesman, 62, December 15, 1961.


  • The Golden Notebook
      Michael Joseph, 1962, 1972, 1986
      Penquin, 1964, 1972
      Panther/Granada, 1973
      Paladin/Grafton, 1989
      New York:
      Simon & Schuster, 1962, 1984
      McGraw-Hill, 1963
      Ballantine Books, 1968
      Bantam, 1973
      Caedmon (HarperCollins) (audio tape: excerpt from The Golden Notebook), 1986
      HarperPerennial (HarperCollins), 1994
      San Bernardino, CA:
      Borgo Press, 1994
      HarperPerennial (HarperCollins), 1999

  • Play with a Tiger produced at the Comedy Theatre, London.

  • From the Black Notebook (excerpt from The Golden Notebook), Partisan Review, 29, Spring 1962.
  • The New Man (short story), New Statesman, 64, September 7, 1962.
  • Interview in Authors Talking.
  • The Grass is Singing adapted as a television play.


  • A Man and Two Women
      MacGibbon & Kee, 1963
      New York:
      Simon & Schuster, 1963
      Ballantine Books, 1965
      Popular Library
      Plume, 1976
      Touchstone (Simon & Schuster), 1984

  • One Off the Short List (short story), Kenyon Review, 25, Spring 1963.
  • A Letter from Home (short story), Partisan Review, 30, Summer 1963.
  • A Room (short story), New Statesman, 66, August 2, 1963.
  • My Father (essay), London Sunday Telegraph, September 1, 1963.
  • What Really Matters (essay), Twentieth Century, 172, Autumn 1963.
  • The New Man (short story), Voices.
  • Mrs. Fortescue (short story), Winter's Tales 9.


  • African Stories
      Michael Joseph, 1964
      New York:
      Simon & Schuster, 1965
      Ballantine Books, 1966
      Popular Library, 1976
      Touchstone (Simon & Schuster), 1977, 1981

  • Play with a Tiger produced in New York.
  • An Unposted Love Letter (short story), published in Thy Neighbor's Wife, Twelve Original Variations on the Theme of Adultery, edited by James Turner; London: Cassell, 1964, Four Square, 1967; New York: Stein and Day, 1968
  • All Seething Underneath (essay: My Father) abridged, Vogue Magazine, February 15, 1964.
  • Zambia's Joyful Week (essay), New Statesman, 68, November 6, 1964.
  • Interview, Counterpoint.


  • Landlocked, the fourth volume of Children of Violence
      MacGibbon & Kee, 1965
      Panther, 1967
      Panther, 1974
      Grafton, 1990
      HarperCollins, 1993
      New York:
      Simon & Schuster, 1966 (in one volume with A Ripple from the Storm)
      Plume (New American Library), 1970 (reprinted by Plume/Penquin)
      HarperPerennial (HarperCollins), 1995
      San Bernardino, CA:
      Borgo Press, 1995

  • Review of A. Hutchinson's Road to Ghana, African-English Literature.
  • Little Tembi (short story), published in Modern Choice I, editor Eva Figes. London: Blackie.


  • Her translation of The Storm, a play by Alexander Ostrovsky, is produced by the National Theatre in London. Production of two original television plays, Please Do Not Disturb and Care and Protection. She collaborates on further television scripts based on works by Maupassant.

  • The Black Madonna
      London: Panther, 1966; Flamingo (HarperCollins)

  • Winter in July
      London: Panther, 1966; Flamingo (HarperCollins), 1993

  • Allah Be Praised (review of The Autobiography of Malcolm X), New Statesman, 71, May 27, 1966.
  • Here (poem), New Statesman, 71, June 17, 1966.
  • Visit (poem), New Statesman, 72, November 4, 1966.
  • Play with a Tiger, in Plays of the Sixties, vol. 1. London: Pan Books Ltd., 1966
  • Care and Protection (play)
  • Do Not Disturb (play)
  • The Storm (from A. Ostrovsky's play)
  • Between Men (play)
  • To Room Nineteen (short story), published in The World of Modern FIction: European, editor Stephen Marcus. New York: Simon and Schuster.


  • Particularly Cats
      Michael Joseph, 1967
      Panther/Grafton 1979
      New York:
      Simon & Schuster, 1967
      Signet, 1971
      Simon & Schuster/Fireside, 1978

  • A fourth television play is adapted from the short story, Between Men.
  • BBC 2 broadcast of Play with a Tiger, producer: Michael Bakewell, director: Stuart Burge.
  • She publishes statement in Authors Take Sides on Vietnam.
  • Particularly Cats (excerpt), McCalls, 94, March 1967.
  • A Small Girl Throws Stones at a Swan in Regents Park (poem), New Statesman, 74, November 24, 1967.
  • Hunger the King (poem), New Statesman, 74, November 24, 1967.
  • Omar Khayyam (essay), New Statesman, 74, December 15, 1967.
  • Through the Tunnel (short story), published in Breadth of Danger: Fifty Tales of Peril and Fear by Masters of the Short Story, editor Eric Duthie. London: Odhams.


  • Nine African Stories: With a Specially Written Introduction by The Author, Selected by Michael Marland; London: Longmans, (Selections from African stories)
  • Three Plays - Includes The Long and the Short and the Tall and Each His Own Wilderness; Willis Hall, Editor, Harmondsworth, Penguin, 1968, also includes Yes, and After by Michael Hastings
  • Side Benefits of an Honorable Profession (short story), Partisan Review, 35, Fall 1968.
  • Afterword in Oliver Schreiner's The Story of an African Farm, New York: Fawcett World Library.


  • The Four-Gated City, the fifth volume of Children of Violence
      MacGibbon & Kee, 1969
      Granada, 1972
      Paladin, 1990
      HarperCollins, 1993
      New York:
      Knopf, 1969
      Bantam Books, 1970
      Plume (Penquin), 1976
      HarperPerennial (HarperCollins), 1995
      San Bernardino, CA:
      Borgo Press, 1995

  • Particularly Cats (excerpt), Cat Fancy, 12, March-April 1969.
  • Particularly Cats (excerpt), Cat Fancy, 12, June 1969.
  • A Few Doors Down (essay), New Statesman, 78, December 26, 1969.

1970 Interview in New American Review 8


  • Briefing for a Descent into Hell
      Jonathan Cape, 1971
      Panther, 1972
      Flamingo (HarperCollins), 1995
      New York:
      Knopf, 1971
      Vintage Books (Random House), 1981

  • Briefing for a Descent into Hell shortlisted for The Booker Prize.
  • Ancient Ways to New Freedom (essay), Vogue, 158, September 15, 1971 and in The Diffusion of Sufi Ideas in the West, edited by L. Lewin; Boulder, Colorado: Keysign Press.
  • Report on the Threatened City (short story, Playboy, 17, November 1971.
  • Spies I Have Known (short story), Partisan Review, 38, Winter 1971.
  • A Deep Darkness (review of Isak Dinisen's Shadows on the Grass), New Statesman, January 15, 1971.
  • Ant's Eye View (essay on Eugene Marais's The Soul of the White Ant), New Statesman, January 29, 1971.
  • The Ant Heap (short story), published in Great British Short Novels, editor R.D. Spector. New York: Bantam.


  • The Story of a Non-Marrying Man and Other Stories
      Jonathan Cape, 1972
      Penguin Books, 1975
      Grafton/Paladin, 1990
      New York (American title The Temptation of Jack Orkney and Other Stories):
      Knopf, 1972
      Bantam Books, 1974

  • What Looks Like an Egg and Is an Egg? (essay), New York Times Book Review, 77, May 7, 1972.
  • In the World, Not of It, published in Encounter, August, 1972.
  • An Old Woman and Her Cat (short story), published in New American Review 14, editor Theodore Solotaroff. New York: Simon and Schuster.
  • Ancient Way to New Freedom (essay), Diffusion of Sufi Ideas in the West.
  • Foreword, An Illfated People.
  • Preface in reissue of the Golden Notebook.
  • Postscript in Play with a Tiger.


  • The Summer Before the Dark
      Jonathan Cape, 1973
      Paladin, 1990
      New York:
      Knopf, 1973
      Bantam, 1974
      Vintage Books (Random House), 1983

  • This Was the Old Chief's Country: Collected African Stories, Volume 1
  • The Sun Between Their Feet: Collected African Stories, Volume 2
      Michael Joseph, 1973
      Triad/Granada, 1979
      Paladin, 1992
      Flamingo (HarperCollins), 1993
      Flamingo (HarperCollins), 1994

  • The Singing Door, a one-act play written for a textbook anthology. Published in:
      Second Playbill, ed. Alan Durband, London: Hutchinson.
      and in Play with a Tiger and Other Plays, London: Flamingo (HarperCollins), 1996.

  • Letters in The Novels of Doris Lessing.
  • On The Golden Notebook (Preface to The Golden Notebook), Partisan Review, XL, I
  • Vonnegut's Responsibility (essay), New York Times Book Review, February 4, 1973.


  • The Memoirs of a Survivor
      Octagon, 1974, 1985
      Picador, 1976
      Flamingo (HarperCollins), 1995
      New York:
      Knopf, 1975
      Bantam Books, 1976
      Vintage Books (Random House), 1988

  • A Small Personal Voice (collected essays)
      Flamingo (HarperCollins), 1994
      New York:
      Knopf, 1974;
      Vintage (Random House), 1975

  • Letters in Doris Lessing Critical Studies.
  • Play with a Tiger included in the anthology Plays By and About Women, edited by Victoria Sullivan and James Hatch, New York: Vintage Books/Random House, 1974.
  • Introduction to Dusky Ruth and Other Stories by A. E. Coppard; Harmondsworth : Penguin Books, 1974


  • Building a new cultural understanding with the people of the East, article in The Times, October 15, 1975.

  • If you knew Sufi..., article in The Guardian (London), January 8, 1975.
  • A Sunrise on the Veld, edited by Alan Duff; Series: Cambridge English language learning; London : Cambridge U.P., 1975


  • Received the French Prix Medicis for Foreigners.

  • The story "No Witchcraft for Sale" was published in Sisters of Sorcery: Two Centuries of Witchcraft Stories by the Gentle Sex, Manley, Seon & Gogo Lewis. NY: Lothrop, Lee & Shepard, Includes stories by Andre Norton, Dorothy Sayers, Doris Lessing and others. Cover illustrated by Edward Gorey.
  • Doris Lessing: Selected Short Stories; Edited by Alan Cattell; Series:The Pegasus library; London: Harrap


  • Interview in The Author Speaks
  • A Mild Attack of Locusts; Edited by Alan Duff; Series: Cambridge English language learning: level 5; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1977


  • To Room Nineteen: Collected Stories, Volume One
  • The Temptation of Jack Orkney: Collected Stories Volume Two
      Jonathan Cape, 1978
      Granada, 1979
      Flamingo (HarperCollins), 1994
      New York (In one volume, title: Stories):
      Knopf, 1979
      Vintage (Random House), 1980

  • Dust jacket blurb for The House of Hunger by Marechera (Dambudzo), New York: Pantheon (1978)


  • Re: Colonised Planet 5, Shikasta, the first volume of Canopus in Argos: Archives
      Jonathan Cape, 1979
      Granada/Grafton, 1981
      Flamingo (HarperCollins), 1994
      New York:
      Knopf, 1979
      Vintage (Random House), 1981
      Vintage International (Random House), 1992 - Canopus in Argos: Archives (all 5 novels in one volume, softcover)

  • Letters in The Novelistic Vision of Doris Lessing.
  • In the World, Not of It in The World of the Sufi.
  • Included in Women Writing, An Anthology, Edited by Denys Val Baker, NY, with Weldon, Lavin, Lessing, O'Brien, Spark, Taylor, etc


  • The Marriages between Zones Three, Four, and Five, the second volume of Canopus in Argos: Archives
      Jonathan Cape, 1980
      Granada, 1981
      Flamingo (HarperCollins), 1994
      New York:
      Knopf, 1980
      Vintage Books (Random House), 1981
      Vintage International (Random House), 1992 - Canopus in Argos: Archives (all 5 novels in one volume, softcover)

  • Introduction in Kalila and Dimna by Ramsay Wood; New York: Knopf
  • Included in A Garland for Jack Lindsay; decorations by Charlotte Mensforth; St. Albans (Hertfordshire), Piccolo Press. Limited edition of 150 copies


  • The Sirian Experiments, the third volume of Canopus in Argos: Archives
      Jonathan Cape, 1981
      Flamingo (HarperCollins), 1994
      New York:
      Knopf, 1981
      Vintage Books (Random House), 1982
      Vintage International (Random House), 1992 - Canopus in Argos: Archives (all 5 novels in one volume, softcover)

  • The Sirian Experiments shortlisted for the Booker Prize.
  • Introduction in Learning How to Learn by Idries Shah, Octagon Press.
  • Introduction in The Tale of the Four Dervishes and Other Sufi Titles
  • Not A Very Nice Story (short story) included in the anthology: FINE LINES The Best of Ms. Fiction, Edited and with an by Ruth Sullivan, New York: Charles Scribner's Sons.
  • Film released: Memoirs of a Survivor, starring Julie Christie, directed by David Gladwell.


  • The Making of the Representative for Planet 8, the fourth volume of Canopus in Argos: Archives
      Jonathan Cape, 1982
      Panther, 1981
      Granada, 1983
      Flamingo (HarperCollins), 1994
      New York:
      Knopf, 1982
      Vintage (Random House), 1983
      Vintage International (Random House), 1992 - Canopus in Argos: Archives (all 5 novels in one volume, softcover)

  • Film released: Killing Heat (based on The Grass is Singing) starring Karen Black and John Thaw. Written and Directed by Michael Raeburn.
  • Our minds have become set in the apocalyptic mode, article in The Guardian (London), June 14, 1982.
  • Letter to the editor, The Guardian (London), July 1, 1982.
  • These Shores of Sweet Unreason, article in The Guardian (London), September 25, 1982.
  • Interview in The Radical Imagination and the Liberal Tradition
  • Introduction in First Among the Sufies, Life and Thought of Rabia al-Adawiyya by Widad El Sakkakini;ISHK.
  • Review of Laurens Van der Post Book in Notebooks, Memoirs, Archives - Reading and Rereading Doris Lessing
  • Reviews in Suffic Searches
  • Letter to the editor, The Guardian (London), date not specified.
  • Speech in Shakespeare-Preis
  • Received the Shakespeare Prize of the West German Hamburger Stiftung and the Austrian State Prize for European Literature.
  • Contributed to audio tape: An Ancient way to New Freedom, ISHK.


  • Documents Relating to the Sentimental Agents in the Volyen Empire, the fifth volume of Canopus in Argos: Archives
      Jonathan Cape, 1983
      Granada, 1984
      Flamingo (HarperCollins), 1994
      New York:
      Knopf, 1983
      Vintage (Random House), 1984
      Vintage International (Random House), 1992 - Canopus in Argos: Archives (all 5 novels in one volume, softcover)

  • The Diary of a Good Neighbor (published under the pseudonym "Jane Somers")

  • My Father in Fathers-Reflections by Daughters.
  • Included in the anthology, The Dog Book: A Treasury of the Finest Appreciations Ever Penned About Dogs, Jerrold Mundis (ed.)
      New York: Arbor House, 1983.


  • If the Old Could (published under the pseudonym "Jane Somers")

  • Writing Under Another Name (article) & Jane Somers's Diaries (excerpt), London/New York:Granta #13, Autumn 1984.

  • The Diaries of Jane Somers
    (The two "Jane Somers" novels published in one volume under her own name)
      Michael Joseph, 1984
      Penquin, 1985
      New York:
      Vintage (Random House), 1984

  • Impertinent Daughters (excerpt), London/New York: Granta #14, Winter 1984.


  • The Good Terrorist
      Jonathan Cape, 1985
      Grafton, 1986
      Paladin (Granada) 1990
      New York:
      Knopf, 1985
      Vintage (Random House), 1986

  • Prisons We Choose to Live Inside - The Massey Lectures Series: a series of 5 lectures broadcast on October 1985 as part of CBC Radio's "Ideas" series.

  • The Good Terrorist shortlisted for The Booker Prize.
  • Countdown to Terror, excerpt from The Good Terrorist, published in The Guardian (London), Saturday, September 7, 1985.
  • Autobiography (Part Two): My Mother's Life (excerpt), London/New York: Granta #17, Autumn 1985.


  • This Was the Old Chief's Country, No Witchcraft for Sale, The New Man
    Read by Doris Lessing (audio cassettes)
    Spoken Arts, 1986 (2 cassettes)

  • Received the W.H. Smith Literary Award and the Mondello Prize in Italy for The Good Terrorist
  • Introduction to Kalila and Dimna: Tales for Kings and Commoners: Selected Fables of Bidpai; retold by Ramsay Wood; Inner Traditions International Ltd., 1986.


  • The Wind Blows Away Our Words

  • Events in the Sky (essay), London/New York: Granta #22, Autumn, 1987.
  • Received the Palmero Prize.
  • Afghan accuracy, Letter to the Editor, The Guardian (London), April 17, 1987.
  • Forward to The Essential Cat, by Thomas Lester; London: Grafton Books


  • The Fifth Child
      Jonathan Cape, 1988
      Grafton/Paladin, 1989
      New York:
      Knopf, 1988
      Vintage (Random House), 1989

  • Grinzane Cavour Prize in Italy for The Fifth Child.
  • Among the Roses (short story), The Observer, July 24, 1988.
  • Included in the anthology, Through Other Eyes : Animal Stories by Women, with Ursula Le Guin, Alice Walker, Annie Dillard; Crossing Press, 1988
  • Three stories / Doris Lessing, Contemporary authors in signed limited editions; Helsinki : Eurographica, 1988, Limited ed. of 350 copies printed by Tipografia Nobili
  • Collaborated with composer Philip Glass to create the opera: "The Making of the Representative for Planet 8" performed by The Houston Grand Opera. Dunvagen Music Publishers Inc., 1988


  • Particularly Cats and More Cats (illustrated by Anne Robinson)
      London: Michael Joseph, 1989
      Oxford: ISIS Large Print, 1990

  • The Doris Lessing Reader

  • Received Doctor of Letters, Honorary Degree from Princeton University.
  • Zimbabwe mobilises the agents of change, article in The Independent (London), January 18, 1989.
  • Included in Great Cat Tales, Edited by Lesley O'Mara, Illustrated by William Geldart; NY: Carroll & Graf, 1989



  • Particularly Cats... and Rufus (Illustrations by James McMullan, American edition only. Reissue of "Particuarly Cats" with addition of new chaper Rufus, the Survivor)
      New York:
      Knopf, 1991
      Flamingo (HarperCollins), 1993 (Title: Particularly Cats and Rufus the Survivor)

  • Introduction to reissue of Before My Time by Niccolo Tucci; Moyer Bell Limited, New York & London, 1991
  • Film released: Un Homme Et Deux Femmes (A Man and Two Women), Director: Valerie Stroh, French 1991, 90mn, with Valerie Stroh, Lambert Wilson.
  • Between the fax and the fiction, article in The Guardian (London), December 13, 1991.
  • Notes for A Case History (short story) included in the anthology, Decades: The Sixties; Compiled by Janet and Andrew Goodwyn; Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire: Macmillan, 1991


  • London Observed Stories and Sketches
      HarperCollins, 1992
      Flamingo (HarperCollins), 1993
      New York (American title: The Real Thing: Stories and Sketches):
      HarperCollins, 1992
      Ultramarine Publishing Company, 1992 (limited edition of 50 signed copies, 12 in leather binding)
      HarperPerennial (HarperCollins), 1993

  • African Laughter
      HarperCollins, 1992
      Flamingo (HarperCollins), 1993
      New York:
      HarperCollins, 1992
      HarperPerennial (HarperCollins), 1993

  • "Language and the Lunatic Fringe" (article/essay), New York Times, Op Ed, June 26, 1992.
  • Essay included in the anthology The Pleasure of Reading, edited by Antonia Fraser, London: Bloomsbury.


  • A play based on Memoirs of a Survivor was performed at The Festival Theatre.
  • Included in the children's book anthology: Adventure Stories; chosen by Clive King, illustrated by Brian Walker; New York: Kingfisher Books, 1993.
    An illustrated collection of adventure short stories and excerpts from longer works by a variety of authors, including Robert Graves, Doris Lessing, and Mark Twain.
  • An Ant Heap (short story) included in the anthology, Classics of Modern Fiction : Twelve Short Novels; Edited by Irving Howe; Fort Worth : Harcourt Brace Jovanovich College Publishers, c1993
  • A Woman on The Roof (short story) included in the anthology: Fiction; Compiled by R.S. Gwynn; New York: HarperCollins.


  • Shadows on the Wall of the Cave (transcript of her talk on 19 January 1994)
      London: British Library, 1994

  • Conversations, edited by Earl Intersoll
      Ontario Review Press, 1994
      London: (British title: Putting the Questions Differently)
      Flamingo (HarperCollins), 1996

  • Under My Skin: Volume One of My Autobiography, to 1949

  • Foreword in Mercury by Anna Kavan, London: Peter Owen Publishers.
  • The Day Stalin Died (short story) published in the anthology: The Oxford Book of Modern Women's Stories, edited by Patricia Craig, Oxford/New York: Oxford University Press.
  • May 5, 1994: reviewed Idries Shah's The Commanding Self in The London Times.
  • She reviewed The Lost Boat. Avant-Garde Fiction from China (Wellsweep Press, London, 1994) in INDEX on Censorship, Volume 23, May/June 1994.
  • Unexamined Mental Attitudes Left Behind By Communism (essay) published in: Our Country, Our Culture: The Politics of Political Correctness, Edited by Edith Kurzweil and William Philips, Partisan Review Press, Boston, 1994
  • Foreward to The Cambridge Guide to Literature in English, edited by Ian Ousby, Cambridge University Press, second edition.


  • Playing the Game (a graphic novel illustrated by Charlie Adlard)

  • Spies I Have Known and Other Stories
      London: Cascade/Collins Educational (HarperCollins), 1995

  • Received Honorary Degree from Harvard University, June 8, 1995.
  • Received James Tait Black Prize for best biography: Under My Skin.
  • Received 1995 Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Under My Skin.
  • On critics' list for the 1995 Nobel Prize in Literature.
  • The Golden Notebook included in the exhibition "Books of the Century" at The New York Public Library's Center for the Humanities, May 20, 1995-July 13, 1996, and in The New York Public Library's Books of the Century, published by Oxford University Press
  • Included in: All the Time in the World: An Anthology of Verse and Prose Celebrating Grandparenthood, Edited by Elizabeth Cairns, U.K.: Age Concern England, 1995.
  • To Room Nineteen (short story) included in: The Norton Anthology of Short Fiction, 5th Edition, edited by R. V. Cassill, W.W. Norton & Company. Also includes an interview with Doris Lessing.
  • Impertinent Daughters (essay) published in: The Granta Book of the Family, Edited by Bill Buford, New York: Granta Books (Penquin), 1995
  • Introduction to The Man Who Loved Children by Christina Stead, New York: Everyman's Library, Knopf, 1995


  • Love, Again
      Flamingo (HarperCollins), 1996
      Flamingo (HarperCollins), 1997
      New York:
      HarperCollins, 1996
      HarperPerennial (HarperCollins), 1997

  • The Pit
      London: Phoenix/Orion House, 1996

  • Play with a Tiger and Other Plays
      London: Flamingo (HarperCollins), 1996

  • Through the Tunnel (short story) reprinted in Splash: Great Writing About Swimming, by Laurel Blossom (Editor) & George Plimpton (Introduction), U.S. & U.K: Ecco Press, 1996
  • On the list of nominees for the Nobel Prize for Literature and Britain's Writer's Guild Award for Fiction.
  • Contributed to an obituary for Idries Shah, London Daily Telegraph, November, 1996.
  • Excerpt from Shikasta, published in the anthology, Virtually Now: Stories of Science, Technology and the Future, Edited by Jeanne Schinto. Persea Books.
  • One Off the Short List (short story) included in: The Norton Anthology: Literature by Women, the Traditions in English, Second Edition, edited by Sandra M. Gilbert and Susan Gubar, New York/London: W. W. Norton & Company.


  • She collaborated with Philip Glass on a second opera, based on "The Marriages Between Zones Three, Four and Five", which premiered in Heidelberg, Germany on May 10.
  • Short story/essay (?) included in Sixty Years of Great Fiction from Partisan Review by William Phillips (Editor), Partisan Review, Boston, MA.
  • Short story/essay (?) included in Glorious Cats : A Collection of Words and Paintings, by Helen Exley (Editor); Exley Gift Books
  • The Stare (short story) published in the The New Yorker, July 7, 1997.
  • The Roads of London (excerpt from Walking in the Shade), Granta # 58, Summer 1997.

  • Walking in the Shade, Volume Two of My Autobiography, 1949 to 1962
      HarperCollins, 1997
      Flamingo (HarperCollins), 1998
      New York:
      HarperCollins, 1997
      HarperPerennial (HarperCollins), 1998

  • Excerpt of story/novel (unknown) included in: The Plain Truth of Things: A Treasury: The Role of Values in a Complex World, edited by Colin Greer & Hergert Kohl; New York HarperCollins 1997.


  • An Evening with Doris Lessing (lecture & discussion), Partisan Review/1, Winter 1998, Volume LXV Number 1, Boston University.

  • "Maudie e Jane" (Maudie and Jane) - play based on The Diaries of Jane Somers
    Directed by Luciano Nattino
    With: Judith Malina and Lorenza Zambon
    Casa Degli Alfieri, Italy: Monday, March 30, 1998

  • Report on the Threatened City (short story) reprinted in The Playboy Book of Science Fiction, Edited by Alice K. Turner, New York, Harperprism, 1998.
  • Introduction to Ecclesiastes or, The Preacher (The Canon Pocket Bible Series), Edinburgh: Cannongate Books Ltd, 1998; New York: Grove Press, 1999
  • Plants and Girls (short story) included in Mistresses of the Dark: 25 Macabre Tales by Master Storytellers; edited by Stefan R. Dziemianowicz, Denise Little & Robert Weinberg; Barnes & Noble, 1998.


  • Mara and Dann, an Adventure
      Flamingo (HarperCollins), 1999
      Flamingo (HarperCollins), 2000
      New York:
      HarperCollins, 1999
      HarperPerennial (HarperCollins), 1999

  • Short Story or Essay included in the anthology Her War Story : Twentieth-Century Women Write About War, edited by Sayre P. Sheldon; Southern Illinois University Press, June 1999.
  • Problems, Myths and Stories, I.C.R. Monograph No: 36, London: Institute for Cultural Research, 1999
  • Included in For the Love of Books : 115 Celebrated Writers on the Books They Love Most by Ronald B. Shwartz (Editor); New York, Putnam, 1999
  • A London View (essay), London/New York:Granta #65, Spring 1999.


  • A Letter from Home (short story) included in Other People's Mail, an Anthology of Letter Stories, Edited with an Introduction by Gail Pool; University of Missouri Press.

  • Maudie e Jane, a play based on The Diaries of Jane Somers, performed March 15-20, 2000 at Theatro Duse, Bologna, Italy.

  • Ben, in the World
      Flamingo (HarperCollins), 2000
      New York:
      HarperPerennial (HarperCollins), 2000

  • Particularly Cats
    Reissued with an additional chapter, "The Old Age of El Magnifico."
    Burford Books, Short Hills, NJ, 2000




Doris Lessing.


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