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British female writer Doris Lessing wins Nobel Prize in literature
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British female writer Doris Lessing has won the 2007 Nobel Prize in literature for five decades of epic novels covering the fields of feminism, politics as well her youth in Africa, the Swedish Academy announced Thursday.

Doris Lessing, a file photo

The academy cited Lessing as "that epicist of the female experience who with skepticism, fire and visionary power has subjected a divided civilization to scrutiny."

Lessing was born in 1919 to British parents in Persia, now Iran. The family moved to Southern Rhodesia, which is now Zimbabwe, in 1925, where they lived on a farm.

After leaving the convent school at 14, Lessing went on to work as a nanny, a telephonist, an office worker, a stenographer and a journalist. She divorced twice and has two children.

The Grass Is Singing
, which was published in 1950.

Lessing went to Britain at the age of 30 with the manuscript of her first novel, The Grass Is Singing, in which she examines the relationship between a white farmer's wife and her black servant.

It is "both a tragedy based on love-hatred and a study of unbridgeable racial conflicts," the academy said.

The Golden Notebook
, which was published in 1962.

Race and empire are themes frequently explored by Lessing. Her 1962 novel The Golden Notebook was widely considered her breakthrough work, a book that became a favourite for the feminist movement for examining the male-female sexual relationship from a woman's standpoint.

"The burgeoning feminist movement saw it as a pioneering work and it belongs to the handful of books that informed the 20th century view of the male-female relationship," the academy said.

The autobiographical Under My Skin (1994) and Walking in the Shade (1997) are widely regarded as marking the high-point of Lessing's career. They were praised for capturing the last days of the British Empire.

As a strident critic of apartheid in South Africa and racism in Southern Rhodesia, Lessing was banned for many years from visiting either country. In Britain she became active in the Communist Party for a few years in the 1950s and campaigned against nuclear weapons.

Her other important works include the semi-autobiographical Children Of Violence series, The Summer Before Dark in 1973 and The Fifth Child in 1988.

The Fifth Child
, which was published in 1988

Lessing, 87, is the oldest person to win the Nobel Literature Prize. She is the second British writer to win the prize in three years, the 34th woman to win a Nobel and the 11th to take the literature award.

Last year, the Nobel Literature Prize went to Turkish author Orhan Pamuk.

This was the fourth of the prestigious Nobel Prizes handed out this year, with awards in chemistry, physics and medicine made in the past three days.

The winners of the Peace Prize will be announced Friday in Oslo, Norway, to be followed by those for Economics next Monday.

Nobel Prizes have been awarded annually since 1901 to those who " conferred the greatest benefit on mankind during the preceding year."

The prizes are usually announced in October and are handed out on Dec. 10, the anniversary of the 1896 death of Alfred Nobel, a Swedish industrialist and the inventor of dynamite.

Each prize consists of a medal, a personal diploma and a cash award of 10 million Swedish kronor (US$1.53 million).

(Xinhua News Agency October 12, 2007)

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