British author Doris Lessing has won this year's Nobel Prize for Literature.

The annual award is presented to the writer considered to "have produced in the field of literature the most outstanding work of an idealistic tendency".

Lessing will be awarded ten million kronor (£763,000) as well as receiving a gold medal and an invitation to deliver a lecture at the Stockholm headquarters of the Swedish Academy.

She was cited as "that epicist of the female experience, who with scepticism, fire and visionary power has subjected a divided civilisation to scrutiny".

Born in PerSia in 1919, Lessing wrote frequently about life in British Africa, having grown up in Zimbabwe (formerly Rhodesia).

Her fiction is typically divided into three distinct phases, Communist, psychological and Sufi, with the science fiction style of the latter thought to have knocked her out of the running for this year's Nobel Prize.

US author Philip Roth and Japanese writer Haruki Murakami were widely thought to be the favourite's for this year's prize, the awarding of which has more recently been based on an author's literary merit, as opposed to the stricter constraints of Alfred Nobel's original "idealistic" criterion.

Lessing becomes the tenth British author to win the Nobel Prize, joining Rudyard Kipling, John Galsworthy, TS Eliot, Bertrand Russell, Winston Churchill, Elias Canetti, William Golding, VS Naipaul and Harold Pinter, who won in 2005.

11/10/2007 12:42:25