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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Let's remember now Doris Lessing who has died at the age of 94. The British writer was one of the world's most famous authors, though she spoke with disdain about fame. She even dismissed news that she'd won the Nobel Prize.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: So have you heard the news?

DORIS LESSING: No.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: You've won the Nobel Prize for literature.

LESSING: Oh, Christ.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

She says she didn't care since people had been talking about a Nobel for so long. At other times, Lessing submitted manuscripts to her publisher under a pseudonym just to show they'd be rejected without her famous name. Her road to fame began in what's now Iran, where she was born. She grew up in what's now Zimbabwe. She dropped out of school, married and had children as she told WHYY's FRESH AIR in 1988.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

LESSING: I got married for the reasons many women get married. You imagine you're marrying into independence, and then I didn't like the life, so I left.

MONTAGNE: She divorced, joined a Communist group, remarried, and divorced again.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

LESSING: You knew - you don't make a decision I am going to be an independent woman. Your character determines what's going to happen to you.

INSKEEP: Eventually Lessing's writing career took off. She wrote about society, Southern Africa, race, colonialism, and women trying to figure out life. Her most famous work, "The Golden Notebook," was published in 1962. The main character documents each part of her splintered life in a separate colored notebook.

MONTAGNE: Many readers hailed it as an instant classic of feminism, praise that Lessing herself characteristically waived off.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

LESSING: That's just stupid. I mean there's nothing feminist about "The Golden Notebook."

INSKEEP: Doris Lessing said she'd just written down things that women had been saying in private for decades. She said the only amazing thing was how amazed people were by seeing women's thoughts written down. She was 94. It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News.

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