Doris Lessing was born of British parents in Persia in 1919 and taken to South Africa at the age of five. She spent the rest of her childhood on a large farm in Southern Rhodesia. At the age of eighteen, she became a telephone operator in Salisbury where she had, she says, 'the kind of compulsive good time described in Martha Quest'. In 1949 she came to London bringing with her the manuscript of her first novel, The Grass is Singing. Published the following year, the book was an outstanding success in Britain, in America and in ten European countires. Her subsequent novels have inlcuded the five-volume Children of Violence series (1952-69) and The Golden Notebook (1962). Reviewing this last book, the Sunday Times called Doris Lessing 'not only the best woman novelist we have but one of the most serious, intelligent and honest writers of the whole post-war generation'. She is also the author of such short story collections as The Habit of Loving (1957) and of non-fiction books ranging from Going Home (1957) to Particularly Cats (1967). The Observer wrote of her: 'There can't, I suppose, be anyone left who reads modern fiction at all and isn't aware of the importance of Doris Lessing's work, with its strenth, its sobriety, its fine integrity.'