Nobel Prize for Literature winner Doris Lessing, who died last year, left instructions that she was donating her entire personal collection of over 3 000 books to Harare City Library.
Lessing, the author of “The Golden Notebook” and “The Grass is Singing”, among more than 50 other novels, died last year at the age of 94 at her home in London.
She was the only Nobel Prize winner with Zimbabwean connections and her left-wing and anti-settler sentiments saw her being banned from the then Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) and South Africa.
Harare mayor Mr Bernard Manyenyeni said it was a magnificent gesture that Lessing took her love for Zimbabwe that far.
“It is most heartening to hear that Doris Lessing, with this magnificent gesture, has taken her love for this country beyond her death,” he said. “We have every reason to feel special to have earned this much in her wishes — we are delighted and grateful as any city would be.”
Reports from London indicate that Lessing’s estate executors have asked Book Aid International to help bring the collection of books to Zimbabwe.
Lessing lived in the then Southern Rhodesia for 25 years from 1924 to 1949.
Her parents Alfred and Emily Tayler started farming near Banket and Lessing’s entire formal education was at Avondale after having attended Dominican Convent briefly. Her marriages to Frank Wisdom and then Gottfried Lessing were in Harare and all three of her children were born in Zimbabwe.
At the age of 30, Lessing left with her youngest child for London and lived there until she died, but when she returned in 1956, she was declared a prohibited migrant for speaking out against the Rhodesian regime.
When the country gained independence in 1980, Lessing came back in 1982; and after 1988 and during her visit she fostered two initiatives by the Africa Book Development Organisation and the Africa Community Publishing and Development Trust to provide opportunities for studying and learning through libraries.
Themes of Lessing writings were universal and international, ranging from the problems of post-colonial Africa to the politics of nuclear power and the emergence of a new woman’s voice, among others. In 2007, she became the oldest author to win the Nobel Prize in literature and the 11th woman to clinch such an honour.