September 2014 | Nate Pedersen

Doris Lessing's Book Collection Donated to Zimbabwe Public Library

The estate of Doris Lessing, the British novelist who died last year at 94 years old, donated 3,000 books from her personal collection to a public library in Harare, Zimbabwe. The donation was made in her name by various beneficiaries listed under her will.

In August, staff from Lessing's publisher Harper Collins, in conjunction with the nonprofit Book Aid International, packed up books in the author's former London home for shipment to Africa. The volunteers found books in packed into every nook and corner of the house. Biographies, histories, reference books, poetry, and fiction were among the selected books.

The donated was warmly welcomed by the public library in Harare, under duress from many years of underfunding. Zimbabwe public libraries sometimes lack any funding at all for the purchase of new books. Despite this lack of financial support for libraries, Lessing found Zimbabwe readers "the most passionate readers anywhere in the world."

Lessing was born in Persia (modern day Iran), but grew up Rhodesia (modern day Zimbabwe) and was strongly associated with the country throughout her life and writing, which included "The Grass is Singing" (1950), and "The Golden Notebook" (1962).  Lessing won the Novel Prize for Literature in 2007.