Art Mimicking Life
British Author Doris Lessing's life was molded by her hard childhood, and idealistic friends. In return, her life was reflected in her works. Her characters followed Doris' journey of self-actualization and discovery. Her unique experiences shaped her way of thinking and her way of thinking shaped the women in her books. While her female protagonists experience very different existences, they all share a common thread: their inner turmoil, dilemmas, and resolutions are those of the author's own existence.
Born in Persia on October 22, 1919 and named Doris May Tayler, Doris lived a childhood much like that of the protagonist in The Grass is Singing. According to her autobiographical Under My Skin, her parents were both British. Her father had become a clerk at a bank after being crippled in World War 1 but that position did not afford him the type of lifestyle he wanted. He moved his family to Rhodesia in Africa to work the supposedly rich land. (Skin, vii)
In Africa Doris' mother tried to maintain their "proper lifestyle." She became neurotic and obsessed that her daughter grow up to be a lady despite being surrounded by "savages." She enforced strict etiquette and hygiene rules on Doris, and her son Harry. Whenever they could, the siblings would escape their mother's watchful eye and go exploring. Doris recalls experiences like these with her bother to be the most enjoyable parts of her otherwise miserable childhood. (British) Doris was sent to convent school, and then to an all-girls high school. She did not enjoy the rigid rules or the social pressures, however, and dropped out at age thirteen.
At age nineteen Doris married Frank Wisdom and they had two children during the years that followed. However, shortly after the birth of their youngest, Doris felt the restraint, confinement and tradition of marriage and family to be too overbearing, and she left. For the next few years she associated herself with other...