Alison Flood writing in guardian.co.uk,
Wednesday October 22 2008
Doris Lessing described winning the Nobel prize as a "bloody disaster", so perhaps it's unsurprising that she turned down a Damehood. Offered the honour in 1992 by Alex Allan, then principal private secretary to the prime minister, Lessing declined on the grounds that the British Empire no longer exists.
"Thank you for offering me this honour: I am very pleased. But for some time now I have been wondering, 'But where is this British Empire?', Lessing wrote to Allan. "Surely, there isn't one. And now I see that I am not the only one saying the same. There is something ruritannical about honours given in the name of a non-existent Empire."
Lessing, now 89, said that when she was young, she did her best "to undo that bit of the British Empire I found myself in: that is, old Southern Rhodesia", saying that "surely there is something unlikeable about a person, when old, accepting honours from a institution she attacked when young?".
Read the full interesting piece here.
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