Author Doris Lessing Was Followed By MI5 For 20 Years

Doris Lessing, reluctant feminist icon (she hated that designation), author of The Golden Notebook, and Nobel laureate, was followed by MI5 for twenty years, according to newly declassified documents.

Lessing was an ardent communist for a number of years before leaving the communist party and her sympathizing husband in 1949. The intelligence agency’s suspicions stuck, though, because Lessing was sympathetic to the causes of black Africans living in poverty, and because she opened her home to refugees. Lessing was born in what is now western Iran and was raised in Rhodesia, eventually coming to run the Salisbury Left Club in the country.

The declassified documents state about Lessing that “colonial exploitation is her pet theme and she has now nearly become… irresponsible in her statements… saying that everything black is wonderful and that all men and all things white are vicious.” And later, when she moved to Britain: “Her flat is frequently visited by persons of various nationality, including Americans, Indians, Chinese and Negroes. Some of the visitors seem to stay at the flat for days at a time and some of the visits are made by apparently unmarried couples. It is possible that the flat is being used for immoral practices.”

Basically, then, Doris Lessing was trailed by MI5 because she was open-hearted and generous, and because she did her best to help people who were in poverty and in danger. It gives “intelligence work” a whole new meaning, doesn’t it?



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