‘As far as I can see, everything is cracking up.’ That is what The Golden Notebook is about!”

Today is the birthday of British novelist and feminist icon Doris Lessing (books by this author), born Doris May Tayler in Kermanshah (now Persia), Iran (1919). Lessing is best known for her novel The Golden Notebook  (1962), which became a kind of handbook for the feminist movement of the 1960s and ’70s.

Lessing wrote most often about women’s struggles with motherhood, sex and sexuality, depression, and conflict. She published The Golden Notebook in 1962. The story of a would-be writer named Anna Wulf who tries to live as freely as a man, the book became an international best-seller. Vogue called it “dismal, drab, embarrassing, sodden with a particularly useless form of self-pity …” but it caught on and became a bible for the feminist movement, which frustrated Lessing, who thought the book was more about mental disintegration. She said: “It’s stupid. I mean, there’s nothing feminist about  The Golden Notebook. The second line is ‘As far as I can see, everything is cracking up.’ That is what The Golden Notebook is about!”

Writer’s Almanac.