Welcome to the website for the Doris Lessing Society! Here you can find resources for studying and enjoying the writings of one of the 20th century's great authors, including a bibliography of recent literary criticism, information about past conferences and panel presentations, and reading guides on selected works for book clubs and independent readers. Also listed here are current Society members and their scholarly interests. If you would like to join, or if you have a question, don't hesitate to click "Contact," above. -- Cornelius Collins, President, Doris Lessing Society


new site resource: short Lessing biography

There’s a new page on the site, under the Resources tab: a short but substantial biography of Doris Lessing, written by Society member Linda E. Chown. This biographical essay focuses on the phases of the author’s life from her birth in 1919 to the early 1980s. Chown’s text is not just factual, but also richly sourced with extensive quotations from published Lessing interviews, some of them now rare. Therefore it should be a valuable resource to students and scholars as a serious introductory biography. For insight into the later years, we are all now awaiting the publication of the authorized biography, now being written!

Jenny Diski’s memoirs of life with Doris Lessing

The current issue of the New York Review of Books features a lengthy review, by Hermione Lee, of Jenny Diski’s memoir, In Gratitude, which was published earlier in 2016. Diski died of cancer this spring, just days after the book saw publication in the UK.

96548932-xlarge_transqvzuuqpflyliwib6ntmjwfsvwez_ven7c6bhu2jjnt8Much of the memoir focuses on Diski’s complex relationship with Doris Lessing. After breaking with her parents, Diski lived several years in Lessing’s care, in the author’s London home during the 1960s. Diski went on to a successful writing career from the 1980s forward. On receiving her cancer diagnosis in 2014, Diski began in the London Review of Books a series of essays that in large part explored her memories of Lessing. Published as In Gratitude, the collection is the most substantial literary reflection on Doris Lessing to appear since her death in 2013.


For those interested in the reception of Diski’s book — particularly its perspective on Lessing — below are links to a range of notices and reviews, in reverse chronological order. Feel free to submit reviews you think should be listed here by contacting us.

Hermione Lee, “The Triumph of Jenny Diski,” New York Review of Books

Andrea DenHoed, “Jenny Diski’s Way of Seeing Beyond the Story,” New Yorker

Heidi Julavitis, “Jenny Diski’s In Gratitude,” New York Times

Martin Rubin, “Book Review: In Gratitude,” Washington Times

Anne Enright, “Writing against the clock,” Irish Times

Hester Abrams, “Review: In Gratitude,” Jewish Chronicle Online

Marion McLeod, “Book of the Week,” The Spinoff (New Zealand)

Jane Shilling, “Life with Doris: the lesser of two evils,” Daily Mail

Tim Adams, “On death … and Doris,” The Guardian

Writer Jenny Diski dies aged 68, BBC News

Jenny Diski interview by Lynn Barber, The Sunday Times (subscription required)

the Doris Lessing collection at the Harare City Library

post today on the London Review of Books blog discusses the Doris Lessing Special Collection at the Harare City Library in Harare, Zimbabwe. Lessing donated over 3,000 books from her personal collection to the library on her death in 2013. The collection opened to the public 3 months ago, as reported here.

Lessing reflected on her early education and spoke about the importance of access to literature, especially in postcolonial societies, in her 2007 Nobel lecture.

call for papers: Doris Lessing Studies, 2016

The editors of Doris Lessing Studies have issued their annual call for papers! This year’s edition will be a special, themed issue. Theme description and contact info below:

“Looking Backward, Looking Forward: Comparative Readings of Doris Lessing’s Historical and Speculative Fiction”

Building upon the Doris Lessing Society’s panel at MLA 2016, this special issue of Doris Lessing Studies seeks article submissions comparing Lessing’s historical-realist-autobiographical fiction to her speculative novels or stories. These two periods in Lessing’s career are often considered by critics as separate areas or phases, but we are interested in exploring ways to bridge that divide. We are interested in attempts to find continuities in Lessing’s career, to theorize the transition from one period to the other, or to articulate non-linear models for understanding her aesthetic trajectory in its long duration.

Submissions should be 12-18 double-spaced (12 point type) pages long, following MLA style. Endnotes must be indicated by superscript numbers manually added within the text and typed in at the end of the article. Submissions should be sent to co-editors Robin Visel and Mark Pedretti (email both rvisel@gmail.com and mark.pedretti@gmail.com with subject “DLS2016 Article Submission”) by May 15, 2016.

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