8 of 16 portraits of Doris Lessing
by Ida Kar
2 1/4 inch square film negative, late 1950s
Artistback to top
- Ida Kar (1908-1974), Photographer. Artist associated with 1564 portraits, Sitter in 137 portraits.
Linked publicationsback to top
- Freestone, Clare (appreciation) Wright, Karen (appreciation), Ida Kar Bohemian Photographer, 2011 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 10 March to 19 June 2011), p. 105 Read entry
Lessing was born in Iran and brought up in Zimbabwe. She left school aged fourteen and began to write. On her arrival in Britain in 1937, Lessing worked as a telephonist in Salisbury and married Frank Wisdom, with whom she had two children, but, feeling trapped, Lessing left her family in 1943. She married Gottfried Lessing after meeting him at the Left Book Club, moved to London with her young son in 1949, and published her debut novel The Grass is Singing in 1950. This photograph resulted from Kar's second portrait session with the author in her Earls Court flat, at the time in which Lessing was writing the novel quintet Children of Violence (1952-69). The stories, about a character called Martha Quest, are strongly influenced by Lessing's own rejection of a domestic role and her involvement with communism. Lessing's novel The Golden Notebook (1962) was heraIded as an example of the new wave of feminism. With her novels in the 1970s she continued to write about the pressures of social conformity, before turning her attention to science fiction. Lessing was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2007.
Events of 1957back to top
Current affairsHarold Macmillan takes over as Conservative prime minister, manoeuvring Eden out of power after his poor handling of the Suez Crisis the previous year.
The Wolfenden Report recommends that homosexuality should no longer be a criminal offence. It still took ten years, however, before any changes were made to the law on homosexuality with the Sexual Offences Act in 1967.
Art and scienceThe Today Programme is first broadcast on Radio 4. This early morning current affairs programme is known for breaking major stories early, and for its hard-hitting approach and touch interviewing style. Presenters have included: Robert Robinson, Brian Redhead, Libby Purves, Jenni Murray, Sue MacGregor, John Humphrys, Anna Ford and James Naughtie.
InternationalThe Treaty of Rome leads to the formation of the European Economic Community. Officially beginning on 1st January 1958, the EEC established a European Common Market, where goods, services, labour and capital could move freely within the European member countries, and shared policies were agreed for labour, social welfare, agriculture, transport, and foreign trade. The EEC preceded the European Community, and the European Union.
- Mad, Bad and Dangerous: The Cult of Lord Byron
- Mirror Mirror: Self-portraits by women artists
- Private View
- Benjamin's Britain
- Centenaries and Centenarians
- Artists in Close-Up
- Photographic holdings - print and negative collections
- Learn more
- Ida Kar: Bohemian Photographer, 1908-1974
- Surreal and Solarised Photographs
- Ida Kar in Cuba
- Blow Up: Sixties Photography Exposed
- Photographs 1965-2006
- Seizing an Instant: Photographs by Roger Mayne
- 2019 Anniversaries
Tell us more
Framed & unframed prints