A quick look around throws up the following:
Born 22/10/1919, Kermanshah, Persia (now Iran)
Died 17/11/2013, London, UK
The Telegraph – Doris Lessing dies aged 94
New York Times – Doris Lessing, Novelist who won 2007 nobel is dead at 94
The Guardian – Doris Lessing dies aged 94 (fan boi comments a-plenty, here)
The list isn’t complete. This is because when I compiled it, two of her books (Shikasta and The Marriages between Zones Three, Four and Five) were out of sequence – I was (again) selectively dipping into them.
So… I collected many of Doris Lessing’s books in paperback. Her Canopus in Argus sequence convinced me that SF could be developed and stretched. I waited for a further volume but she did other things (Jane Somers, Good Terrorist, The Wind Blows Away Our Words).
I devoured Briefing for a Descent into Hell, The Four Gated City and Memoirs of a Survivor. Her African short stories are well written; if she hadn’t done Space Fiction, I would never have read them.
Doris was on a quest. She had family, but I feel she was more fulfilled by saying what needed to be said. She embraced -isms (communism for one) and rejected them in turn.
In her later years she became associated with Sufi activity and it is claimed that she became one. Sufis are mystical sects who do not operate outside Islam, however it is known that Doris had links to Idries Shah, who was responsible for making Sufi texts available in the West.
She left behind a legacy which is literary only in part. If I had to name one writer that influenced me a great deal, I could happily pick Doris. She influenced my appreciation of what could be achieved.
The purpose of her fiction was to convey ideas. This sits at odds with the convention of ‘it doesn’t matter how pointless your piece is, just say it well’. Little surprise that the literary establishment found her an uncompliant subject.
There are few published track records out there to intrigue me. I admire hers. Without envy. She said what she had to say.