Widely regarded as Doris Lessing’s masterpiece and one of the greatest novels of the twentieth century
Anna Wulf is a young novelist with writer’s block. Divorced, with a young child, and disillusioned by unsatisfactory relationships, she feels her life is falling apart. Fearing the onset of madness, she records her experiences in four coloured notebooks. The black notebook addresses her problems as a writer; the red her political life; the yellow her relationships and emotions; and the blue becomes a diary of everyday events. But it is the fifth notebook – the Golden Notebook – which is the key to her recovery and renaissance.
Bold and illuminating, fusing sex, politics, madness and motherhood, The Golden Notebook is at once a wry and perceptive portrait of the intellectual and moral climate of the 1950s – a society on the brink of feminism – and a powerful and revealing account of a woman searching for her own personal and political identity.
‘Doris Lessing is a pioneer of feminist self-consciousness in its raw state…The truths contained in “The Golden Notebook” are indeed harsh. It can also be said that these particular truths have not been examined in so rigorous and exemplary a fashion since the first appearance of this extraordinary book. A seminal work.’ Anita Brookner, LRB
‘“The Golden Notebook” is the diary of a writer in shock, a young woman determined to forge a life as a “free woman”, as an “intellectual”. Doris Lessing is a writer of considerable power, someone who can close her eyes and “give” a situation by the sheer force of her emotional energy.’ Joan Didion, New York Times
‘This ambitious novel has no equal.’ Guardian
Doris Lessing was one of the most important writers of the second half of the 20th-century and was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature 2007. In awarding the prize, the Swedish Academy described her as "that epicist of the female experience, who with scepticism, fire and visionary power has subjected a divided civilisation to scrutiny”. She wrote provocative, inventive and influential works, ranging from novels, short stories and science fiction to autobiography, drama, poetry, essays and operas.
Her first novel, The Grass is Singing, was published in 1950, and her international reputation has flourished since then. Among her other celebrated novels are The Golden Notebook, The Summer Before the Dark and Memoirs of a Survivor. She also published two volumes of autobiography, Under my Skin (which received the James Tait Black Prize) and Walking in the Shade.
Her collection of short novels, Five, earned her the Somerset Maugham Award in 1954. The French translation of The Golden Notebook (1962) won the Prix Medici in 1976. In 1982 she received the Austrian State Prize for Literature and the Shakespeare Prize, Hamburg. Doris Lessing has been shortlisted for the Booker Prize three times: Briefing for a Descent into Hell (1971), The Sirian Experiments (1981) and The Good Terrorist (1985) and won the WH Smith Award in 1985. In August 1991, she received an honorary title of Distinguished Fellow in Literature in the School of English and American Studies conferred by University of East Anglia. In 2001 she was awarded the Spanish Prince of Asturias Prize in Literature, the David Cohen British Literature Prize and received a Companion of Honour from the Royal Society for Literature. She was recently short-listed for the Man Booker International Prize and received S. T. Dupont Golden PEN Award for a Lifetime’s Distinguished Service to Literature.
She died in 2013.