NOBEL Prize-winning British author, Doris Lessing, bequeathed her entire personal collection of over 3,000 books to the Harare City Library in Zimbabwe.
Lessing, described as “one of the major fiction writers of the second half of the 20th century and one of the most vividly representative literary figures of our times” died at her London home in November last year aged 94.
Her executors confirmed the donation and have asked Book Aid International to help. During her life, Lessing was a strong supporter of Book Aid International.
Lessing lived in Zimbabwe (then Southern Rhodesia) for 25 years, from 1924 to 1949. She returned to the country in 1956, but was declared a prohibited migrant after speaking out about the Rhodesian regime.
She was allowed back to into the country in 1982; and after 1988 she visited Zimbabwe and nurtured two initiatives by the Africa Book Development Organisation and the Africa Community Publishing and Development Trust to provide opportunities for reading and learning through libraries.
A Book Aid International said they were fascinated by the variety and breadth of Lessing’s library, describing it as “A collection to aspire to!”
“We found books not just in every room of Lessing’s home, but on shelves in every space where shelves could be fitted, in hallways, under stairs – there were books everywhere,” said an official.
“Lessing’s collection consists of a wonderful variety of reference books, non-fiction and fiction, poetry, biographies and history books.
“These books will be deeply appreciated by the people of Zimbabwe, for whom books are a precious but rare resource.
Book Aid International sends over 50,000 books to Zimbabwe every year.
Libraries in the country often have no budget for new books so in many libraries Book Aid International books comprise up to 80 per cent of their collection.
Lessing’s collection will be celebrated at a literacy festival in November 2014, with her family, friends and Zimbabwean writers.