Doris Lessing was born Doris May Tayler in Kermnshh, Persia (now Bkhtarn, Iran), on October 22, 1919, the first child of Alfred Cook Tayler and Emily Maude McVeagh Tayler, who had emigrated from England to Persia shortly after World War I. A brother, Harry, was born two years later, and in 1925 the family moved to a farm in Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). Her parents were never financially successful. Her father was a dreamer who became a cynic after he failed at maize farming; her mother was domineering but ineffective. Despite Lessing’s love of the African landscape and the isolated veld, she was eager to leave her family behind. She attended a Catholic convent school in Salisbury (now Harare) but left when she was fourteen, saying that she had eye problems, though she continued her voracious reading.
Lessing left home when she was fifteen to become a nursemaid and moved to Salisbury to work in various jobs, mostly clerical, and began writing fiction. She married Frank Charles Wisdom, a minor civil servant, in 1939, and had a son, John, and a daughter, Jean. Divorced in 1943, she was remarried two years later to a German Jewish refugee, Gottfried Lessing. They had a son, Peter, in 1947. She divorced Gottfried Lessing in 1949 and that same year moved to England, settling in London. In 1950 she published her first novel. She continued to live in London and to make her living as a professional writer, writing reviews, media scripts, and nonfiction in addition to her novels, short stories, drama, and poetry.
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