literature & poetry
spoken word & live literature

Doris Lessing: The Golden Notebook

Hear readings from Nobel Prize winner Doris Lessing’s masterpiece The Golden Notebook, performed by artists and authors.

Widely regarded as one of the greatest novels of the twentieth century, this radical and innovative exploration of female liberation in the 1950s speaks directly to present-day debates about women, freedom and equality.

Readers include Laura Bates, Eimear McBride, Lara Feigel, Adjoa Andoh and Bernardine Evaristo.

The Golden Notebook broke new ground in depicting a fragmentary self and has profoundly influenced each new wave of writers, artists and readers.


Eimear McBride – multi-award-winning writer and author of A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing and The Lesser Bohemians

Lara Feigel – literary critic and author of Free Woman, part memoir and part biography of Doris Lessing

Bernardine Evaristo – award-winning author of seven books and other published works, and Professor of Creative Writing at Brunel University

Laura Bates – feminist campaigner, writer and founder of the Everyday Sexism Project

Adjoa Andoh – film, stage and radio actress; as well as a familiar face on British television, with roles in Doctor Who, Casualty and Eastenders

Xiaolu Guo – Chinese-British writer and filmmaker, named as Granta’s Best Young British Novelist and her book A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers was shortlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction

Lydia Wilson – stage and screen actor who trained at RADA, her most recent appearance is in the lead role of BBC/Netflix’s Requiem and she can soon be seen as the lead in the upcoming feature Moon Shine Still

Rachel Long – poet and leader of Octavia – Poetry Collective for Women of Colour, which is housed at Southbank Centre. She is also Assistant Tutor to Jacob Sam-La Rose on the Barbican Young Poets programme

Penny Pepper – poet, performer and writer of the taboo-breaking book Desires Reborn in 2012. Penny she won a Creative Futures Literary Award in 2013 and her memoir First in the World Somewhere was published in 2017

Patrick French – historian and writer, his book The World Is What It Is: The Authorised Biography of V. S. Naipaul, won the Hawthornden Prize and The National Book Critics Circle Award and he is now the official biographer of Doris Lessing

The Golden Notebook has been specially abridged by journalist and writer Claire Allfree. With thanks to the estate of Doris Lessing for their support.

This reading is part of the essential novels of the last 60 years staged to mark the reopening of the much-loved Queen Elizabeth Hall, Southbank Centre.

Dates & times

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Queen Elizabeth Hall


Booking fee: £3.50 (Members £0.00)


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need to know

Age recommendation
For ages 16+.

Event information
The performance is made up of three 90-minute acts, with two 30-minute intervals.

Grab a drink and enjoy our interval interludes, plus a post-show performance:

3.30pm: Claire Allfree, writer and abridger of The Golden Notebook, Lara Feigel, author of Free Woman: Life, Liberation and Doris Lessing, discuss the process of working with Lessing’s writing and its influence on their own lives.

5pm: Gaggle Productions perform the first of two devised musical interludes, inspired by the frenetic, fractured characters from The Golden Notebook. The interludes feature a drummer, vocalist and producer creating a micro choir of divergent sounds. Gaggle Productions is an innovative studio/agency hybrid that produces creative work for and about women, across arts and culture, the media and with brands.

7pm: Gaggle Productions perform a final musical interlude after the readings have ended.

Access information
This event is Speech-to-Text transcribed (STT). To join our free Access Scheme and book tickets for these services, call our Ticket Office on 020 3879 9555 or email
Find out more about our Access Scheme