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Doris Lessing receives Nobel Prize for Literature

Doris Lessing

Story by Jack Foley

ACCLAIMED British author Doris Lessing has collected the Nobel Prize for Literature at a ceremony in London.

The 88-year-old, who is best known for works including The Golden Notebook, became the 11th woman to win the prize in its 106-year history.

Ill health had prevented her from attending the official Nobel prize-giving ceremony in Stockhold, Sweden, last year (2007) but she received the coveted award at the Wallace Collection in London on Wednesday, January 30, 2008, instead.

The Swedish Ambassador to London, Staffan Carlsson, was on hand to present her with the prize and actors Alan Rickman and Juliet Stevenson read excerpts from her new book, Alfred & Emily, which is due for release in May.

Commenting after the ceremony, Lessing said: “Thank you does not seem enough when you’ve won the best of them all. It is astonishing and amazing.”

Born in Iran, Lessing moved to Rhodesia – now Zimbabwe – as a child before coming to England in 1949. She quickly set about writing and published her first novel, The Grass Is Singing, just 12 months later, in 1950.

Since then, she written more than 50 novels, plays, memoirs and collections of short stories.

But The Golden Notebook is considered by many to be her finest work and is often described as “a feminist classic” – although Lessing has distanced herself from any such movement.

Her Nobel prize was announced in October 2007 and in addition to the gold medal, she received 10m kronor (£763,000) and an invitation to give a lecture at the Swedish Academy’s headquarters in Stockholm.

In her absence, the lecture was delivered by her publisher, Nicholas Pearson, and included a plea to society in general to always remember the value of books in spite of other sources such as the internet.