Doris Lessing, the Nobel prize-winning author of The Golden Notebook and The Grass is Singing, among more than 50 other novels ranging from political to science fiction, has died aged 94.
Twitter reacted quickly to the news, a shock to many despite her great age. The author and critic Lisa Jardine described it as "a huge loss"; the agent Carole Blake described her as an "amazing writer and woman"; and the writer Lisa Appignanesi wrote: "One of our very greatest writers has left us this past night, RIP."
The writer Bidisha tweeted: "Doris Lessing: prolific multi-genre genius dies in sleep after writing world-changing novels and winning Nobel. Not bad at all."
Born in Iran, brought up in the African bush in Zimbabwe – where her 1950 first novel, The Grass Is Singing, was set – Lessing had been a London resident for more than half a century. In 2007 she arrived back to West Hampstead, north London, by taxi, carrying heavy bags of shopping, to find the doorstep besieged by reporters and camera crews. "Oh Christ," she said, on learning that their excitement was because at 88 she had just become the oldest author to win the Nobel prize in literature. Only the 11th woman to win the honour, she had beaten that year's favourite, the American author Philip Roth.
Pausing rather crossly on her front path, she said "one can get more excited", and went on to observe that since she had already won all the other prizes in Europe, this was "a royal flush".
Interview with Doris Lessing here.