The video for this story is not available, but you can still read the transcript below.
No image

British Author Lessing Wins Nobel Prize for Literature

British author Doris Lessing was named winner of the Nobel Prize for literature on Thursday. A George Washington University literature professor discusses Lessing's contributions to her craft.

Read the Full Transcript

  • RAY SUAREZ:

    And finally tonight, the Nobel Prize for Literature goes to British author Doris Lessing. We begin with a report from John Sparks of Independent Television News.

  • JOHN SPARKS, ITV News Correspondent:

    Five o'clock this afternoon, at Doris Lessing's home in London, wine to celebrate, but she was in a contemplative mood.

  • NOBEL PRIZE COMMITTEE ANNOUNCER:

    The Nobel Prize in Literature for 2007 is awarded to the English writer Doris Lessing.

  • JOHN SPARKS:

    Eight hours earlier in Stockholm and the big announcement. Ms. Lessing had been on the short list for the world's biggest literature prize for years, yet the duty of informing the prolific author fell to a journalist outside her home.

  • JOURNALIST:

    We're photographing you. Have you heard the news?

  • DORIS LESSING, Nobel Prize, Literature:

    No.

  • JOURNALIST:

    You've won the Nobel Prize for Literature.

  • DORIS LESSING:

    Oh, Christ.

  • JOHN SPARKS:

    Ms. Lessing's first novel was published in 1950. Dozens of works of fiction followed, along with plays and non-fiction and autobiography. She was a child of the British Empire, born in Persia and raised on a farm in Rhodesia. There was little formal learning, but her parents loved books.

  • DORIS LESSING:

    Well, they also read and told stories, and my mother ordered books. Now, we're in the middle of Africa, you understand, ordering books from England. So I had the most wonderful list of books as a child.

  • JOHN SPARKS:

    Doris Lessing inspired a generation of feminists with her breakthrough novel "The Golden Notebook." Women were depicted as they really were and as they can be: angry, bored, aggressive. For many, it was a revelation.

  • DORIS LESSING:

    When I wrote "The Golden Notebook," and I wrote these things that women were saying, apparently it was absolutely astounding to everyone. "My god, what an extraordinary revelation!" But I was writing down what women were saying.

    What surprises me is that everyone reading that book would have heard women saying these things, but they weren't listening to what they were saying.

  • JOHN SPARKS:

    She's attracted her fair share of critics, labeled at various times the black writer, the communist writer, the mystical writer. The series of science fiction books written in the 1980s were judged harshly by some.

  • DORIS LESSING:

    This is what one has to expect from the literary establishment, I'm afraid. Well, they didn't like my so-called science fiction. Why should they? It was absolutely outside what they were used to. But in my view, my personal view, it's some of the best writing I've ever done. And when they get around to noticing it…

  • JOHN SPARKS:

    Still, Ms. Lessing, who's 88 this month, has won most of the big literary prizes. Now she says she's got the royal flush.

  • DORIS LESSING:

    Well, I feel a bit like the icing on the cake. That's what it is. I mean, no one — I mean, it's such a glamorous prize, and so many good people have won it, so you can't say you don't care about it.