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The Princess of Asturias Foundation

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Laureates  

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Doris Lessing

Prince of Asturias Award for Literature 2001

Doris Lessing (Kermanshah, Iran, 1919 -  London, Great Britain, 2013), Nobel Prize in Literature 2007, was born in 1919 in Kermansha (Iran), where her father was stationed as an officer in the British army. In 1924 her family moved to Zimbabwe, where she spent her childhood and adolescence living on a farm. She was educated at a catholic school and at Secondary School in Salisbury, which she dropped out of at the age of fourteen to become self-educated.

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Following two marriages, she moved to England in 1949 for political reasons, and has lived there ever since. She arrived in London with the manuscript of her first novel, 'The Grass Is Singing', about life in Africa, which reflected at this early stage her opposition to racist politics. She wrote some thirty novels, all of which have a progressive, feminist, anti-colonial ring about them. After her first novel, she published five others, under the generic title of 'Children of Violence', a moral reflection on the twentieth century portrayed through the life of an ordinary woman, 'Martha Quest', name of the first book of the series, later continuing with 'A Proper Marriage' (1954), 'A Ripple from the Storm' (1958), 'Landlocked' (1965) and 'The Four-Gated City' (1969).

She was awarded the Medicis Prize in 1976 for 'The Golden Notebook' (1962), one of her most complex works, about the personal and artistic crisis of a woman who has become a landmark figure in the feminist movement. In addition to this work, she also wrote 'A Man and Two Women' (1963), 'In Pursuit of the English' (1965), 'Briefing for a Descent into Hell' (1971), 'The Diary of a Good Neighbour' (1983), 'If the Old could' (1984) and others. She has also published in other genres, besides the novel, including an autobiography, published in two volumes, 'Under my Skin' (1994), and 'Walking in the Shade' (1997).

Doris Lessing belongs to the group of journalists, novelists and playwrights from the England of the sixties whose rebellion brought about one of England's most productive periods of literature. Committed to the cause of the underdog, writing always from her own experience, she has been awarded the Somerset Maugham Prize and the Austrian State prize, along with many other honours. She is also a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the National Institute of Arts and Letters of the United States.

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