118. Doris Lessing, 94, October 22, 1919 - November 17, 2013:
Writer; British novelist, poet, and short story writer; natural causes
Some writers you are force-fed in grade school. Others you stumble upon, quite by accident. Lessing is the latter, probably because The Powers That Be weren't about to allow into the classroom a woman who had an early flirtation with communism and who openly and vehemently condemned nuclear arms and apartheid. In short, she was a rebel. And, as a general rule, one doesn't learn about rebels in school.
I credit discovering this writer to a feminist professor in college, who simply adored Lessing. She pressed a copy into my hands saying "You must read this!" That was back in the mid-80s. After many attempts on her masterpiece, "The Golden Notebook", I ultimately gave up. Of course, she later won the 2007 Nobel Prize in Literature. As I've gotten older, I seem to bump into more and more people who hold her (and particularly this novel) in high regard. Maybe I'll have to make another attempt.