Search

Doris Lessing memorial service: Literary world pays tribute to West Hampstead’s Nobel Prize winning author

PUBLISHED: 19:16 07 April 2014 | UPDATED: 19:16 07 April 2014

The literary world today remembered Nobel Prize-winning author and West Hampstead resident Doris Lessing. Picture: Nigel Sutton

The literary world today remembered Nobel Prize-winning author and West Hampstead resident Doris Lessing. Picture: Nigel Sutton

© Nigel Sutton 17 Redington Rd,London,NW37QX. Phone 020 7794 3008. email pictures@nigelsuttonphotography.com

Friends, family and figures from across the literary world gathered to pay tribute to West Hampstead resident and Nobel Prize-winning author Doris Lessing today.

Doris Lessing at a book reading at West End Lane Books. Picture: Nigel Sutton Doris Lessing at a book reading at West End Lane Books. Picture: Nigel Sutton

The much-lauded novelist, who died peacefully at her home in Gondar Gardens in November, aged 94, was considered one of the most prominent, outspoken and controversial writers of the 20th century.

Penning more than 50 novels ranging from psychological thrillers to science fiction, she gained notoriety for her first novel The Grass is Singing (1950) and later The Golden Notebook (1962).

She also became the oldest person to be awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature at the age of 88.

It was a sign of her work’s impact that so many high-profile literary figures attended a memorial service for her in St Martin-in-the-Fields Church in Trafalgar Square today.

Prominent guests included BBC creative director Alan Yentob, novelist Rose Tremain and biographer Sir Michael Holroyd.

Choir singers performed Lessing’s favourite pieces by Philip Glass, who she had collaborated with on an opera, and Italian composer Claudio Monteverdi, while close friends revealed the woman behind the novels.

Some of her actor friends also performed readings of her work.

Academic and novelist Christopher Bigsby spoke of Lessing’s love of books while growing up in Rhodesia – now Zimbabwe - and her “fierce loyalty to individuals and ideas”.

“Books opened her life and fired her imagination,” he said.

“She wanted above all to put books in the hands of children, in this country and in Africa.

“She wanted to open their lives in the same way.”

Politics – both local and international – were also remembered as key to understanding her “skills at provocation”.

Taking place in a church that took on a pivotal role in the anti-apartheid movement in the UK, Lessing’s struggle against prejudice, colonialism and “tyranny” were a consistent theme during the service.

Latest Hampstead & Highgate News Stories

Holocaust survivor Anita Lasker-Wallfisch who played in the women’s orchestra at Auschwitz will join other survivors at an event to commemorate this year’s Holocaust Memorial Day at JW3, the London Jewish Cultural Centre,in Hampstead.

Yesterday, 10:16

Students from Portland Place School have demonstrated their support for anti-bullying by winning first place in the ‘odd socks day challenge’.

On Monday January 15, the BBC featured the enforcement of council tax in its Inside Out London programme.

January is well underway but it’s not too late to wish everyone a Happy New Year!

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Letters, contributions and comments sent in from Gazette readers this week.

Friday, January 19, 2018

The Board of Deputies of British Jews has called for the dismissal of Inner North London’s senior coroner Mary Hassell after a “deeply disappointing” meeting with community leaders to discuss her refusal to respect Jewish burial requirements.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Andrew Dismore AM, Labour London Assembly Member for Barnet and Camden, has added his voice to the calls for the resignation of Inner North London coroner Mary Hassell.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Dinny Hall has designed women’s jewellery for more than 30 years. Described as a ‘little British Tiffany’, she lives in West Hampstead.

PROMOTED CONTENT

For people who suffer with feet problems, it is often difficult to find footwear that is both comfortable and stylish. There is a shop in the West End dedicated to changing that.

Toni Krok, who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2007, has set up a charity to help people living with the condition and their families adjust to the challenges it brings.

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Most read Hampstead & Highgate news

Show Job Lists

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Hampstead & Highgate Express
e-edition today

Subscribe

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now