Imagine… Doris Lessing

Doris LessingLast night, BBC 1 broadcast a tribute programme about Doris Lessing, winner of the 2007 Nobel Prize for Literature. Presented by Alan Yentob, Imagine… Doris Lessing: The Hostess and the Alien, tells the story of Lessing’s personal life and literary career: her early years in uncultivated Rhodesia, her perpetually difficult relationship with her mother, her fervent political and spiritual beliefs.

Jane Davis, Director of The Reader Organisation, was a contributor to this programme, leading a training reading group with colleagues and undergraduate students at the University of Liverpool.

Reading Lessing’s novel Shikasta, “had an astonishing affect on me”, says Jane. It was this book that set off an electrical current that powered the development of The Reader Organisation. Jane’s aspirations for a Reading Revolution have been inspired by Lessing’s ardent beliefs: “We own a legacy of languages, poems, histories, and it is not one that will ever be exhausted” (Nobel lecture 2007); great books help us to be human.

The Reader Organisation believes that reading is a force for social good that can build community and enhance lives. It is our aim to ensure that quality literature is accessible to all: to engage people of all ages and backgrounds in sharing this resource. Lessing’s plea to Jane to “Read. Read more” has affected not only her life but the lives of many people who otherwise wouldn’t have had the opportunity, or inclination, to pick up a book.

If you missed the programme last night, it is available to watch on BBC iplayer for the next seven days (until Tuesday June 3, 2008). You can also read an interview with Doris Lessing, first published in The Reader magazine, issue 17, Spring 2005.

Posted by Jen Tomkins

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