Lessing is best known for her 1962 novel "The Golden Notebook," considered an essential feminist work of fiction. Moreover, it was stylistically bold, using constructed artifacts such as diaries and newspaper clippings to tell a fractured story.
The daughter of British expatriates, Lessing was born in 1919 in Iran (then Persia) and raised on a family farm in Zimbabwe (it was then Rhodesia). After two marriages and divorces, Lessing moved to England in 1949. A sometime communist and outspoken opponent of South Africa's apartheid regime, she was forbidden to travel to the country for decades.
Lessing's writing moved between realism, often with books set in Africa, and science fiction, with a penchant for dystopias. Her significant works include "The Grass Is Singing," "The Good Terrorist," and the series "The Children of Violence" and "Canopus in Argos."
When Lessing was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature in 2007, she was 88, the eldest literature laureate ever. "Oh Christ," she famously said upon learning the news.