Doris Lessing died last week.
I came face to face with her once, back in 1991, when she did a reading to promote her book of short stories, London Observed. The reading was at Waterstones in Camden, in what turned out to be a very informal arrangement, just a hundred or so chairs set out in rows on the basement floor, between the bookshelves. My friend and I got there early and sat in the front row. I was literally two or three feet away from Doris while she read, this woman whose life I knew intimately from her writing, as though she was a friend. When the reading was over, I queued up for her to sign the copy of the book I had bought, and this dearly loved, intimate friend looked through me unseeingly as she took the book, signed it, and handed it back.
Doris Lessing was, is, always will be one of my idols, not just for her books but for her unconventional, inspirational life, and for being a feminist before feminism was invented.