Belfast Telegraph

Friday 19 December 2014

Author Doris Lessing who said 9/11 'wasn't that terrible' compared to IRA's campaign dies aged 94

Doris Lessing with her Nobel Prize for Literature
Doris Lessing with her Nobel Prize for Literature

Nobel Prize winner, Doris Lessing, who once said that the 9/11 attack "wasn't that terrible" when set alongside the IRA terror campaign has died aged 94.

Ms Lessing, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature and author of The Golden Notebook, died peacefully at her London home in the early hours of yesterday, a spokesman said.

Born in Persia (modern day Iran) in 1919, the British author grew up in Southern Rhodesia before emigrating to London after the Second World War with the manuscript of her first novel, The Grass Is Singing, in her suitcase.

It was published in 1950 and across the course of her life she produced 54 further works, including poetry, two operas, short stories, plays and non-fiction.

In 2007, she became the oldest recipient of the Nobel Prize, aged 88, and only the 11th woman to win the award.

In an interview with the Spanish newspaper El Pais that year, Ms Lessing caused controversy when she suggested that al-Qaida's 2001 attacks on the US were "neither as extraordinary nor as terrible" as Americans thought.

"September 11 was terrible, but if one goes back over the history of the IRA, what happened to the Americans wasn't that terrible," she said.

"Some Americans will think I'm crazy. Many people died, two prominent buildings fell, but it was neither as terrible nor as extraordinary as they think."

She described Americans as "a very naive people, or they pretend to be".

"Do you know what people forget? That the IRA attacked with bombs against our government.

"It killed several people while a Conservative congress was being held and in which the prime minister, Margaret Thatcher, was (attending). People forget," she said.

In the same interview, she also revealed her contempt for one of the chief architects of Northern Ireland's peace process.

"I always hated Tony Blair, from the beginning. Many of us hated Tony Blair – I think he has been a disaster for Britain.

"I said it when he was elected: 'This man is a little showman who is going to cause us problems,' and he did."

Jonathan Clowes, Ms Lessing's long-time friend and agent, said that he was saddened by the news. He said: "She was a wonderful writer with a fascinating and original mind; it was a privilege to work for her and we shall miss her immensely."

BACKGROUND

Almost 3,000 people died in the September 11 attacks in America in 2001. Around 3,700 people died in the Troubles. It is estimated that the IRA was responsible for almost half of all deaths – about 1,700. Five people were killed in the IRA's Brighton bomb attack on the Conservative party conference of October 1984.

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