Activity: OtherPublic engagement, outreach and knowledge exchange - Participation in radio programme


Contributor to 60 minute Radio 4 documentary on Doris Lessing and The Golden Notebook

Doris Lessing: Free Woman
Archive on 4

On awarding the writer Doris Lessing the Nobel Prize in literature in 2007, the academy described her as ‘that epicist of the female experience’. Lessing herself greeted the news of the award, ambushed by journalists and photographers outside her London home, with the words: "Oh Christ!". She was 88 years old, she’d written over 50 books and she refused to be grateful.

Born in Iran in 1919, brought up in Southern Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe, and a settler in post-war London, Doris Lessing was the eternal outsider. She became one of the major fiction writers of the 20th century and in 1962, The Golden Notebook brought her international attention. The protagonist of The Golden Notebook, Anna Wulf writes in four different coloured notebooks, in different voices: ‘a black notebook, which is to do with Anna Wulf the writer; a red notebook, concerned with politics; a yellow notebook, in which I make stories out of my experience; and a blue notebook which tries to be a diary.’

The writer Lara Feigel’s life was changed when she read The Golden Notebook in her mid-30s. Now on the 10th anniversary of Lessing’s death in November 2013, Lara is looking back at her extraordinary life through the prism of The Golden Notebook, fragmenting her life into coloured notebooks as Anna fragments her own life in the novel.

Using the BBC’s archive and new interviews with her friends and readers across the generations, Lara is attempting to reanimate the complexity of Doris Lessing’s life and the long-lasting impact of her ground-breaking novel.

Contributors in order of appearance:
Dr Tinashe Mushakavanhu, Junior Research Fellow in African and Comparative Literature, St Anne’s College, Oxford
Professor Anthony Chennells, Arrupe College, Zimbabwe
Maggie Gee, writer
Deborah Levy, writer
Melissa Benn, writer
Cherie Blair CBE, KC
Nikita Lalwani, writer
Stephen Bush, journalist
Rebecca Liu, editor
Lisa Appignanesi, writer
Dr Nonia Williams, Lecturer, University of East Anglia
King’s College London MA Students: Doriana Dyakova; Anwesh Banerjee; Raashiqah Nagoor, Inka Unwin
Lauren Oyler, writer
Dr Susie Orbach, psychoanalyst and writer
Nicholas Pearson, publisher

Presenter: Lara Feigel, academic, writer and author of 'Free Woman, Life, Liberation and Doris Lessing'

Reader: Zannah Hodson

Producers: Melissa FitzGerald and Sarah O’Reilly

A Zinc Audio production for BBC Radio 4
Period11 Nov 2023
Held atBBC Radio 4
Degree of RecognitionInternational