Doris Lessing was a prolific short story writer. Many of her stories are set either in Africa, where she grew up, or London, where she lived later. She was awarded the 2007 Nobel Prize in Literature.
Here is a collection of Lessing’s short stories listed in alphabetical order of the first word of the title, excluding “A”, “An” and “The”.
Each story has a summary and an approximate word count where possible.
The Black Madonna | 5,700 words
Michele, an Italian prisoner of war, is freed when Italy becomes an ally. As a painter and bricklayer, Michele is put into service under the supervision of Captain Stocker to build an artificial model city. It will then be bombed as part of a military performance.
Debbie and Julie
Julie is a pregnant teen living with Debbie, a prostitute, in her London apartment. Debbie has been very helpful but she’s extended a trip with a man and is out of town when Julie’s water breaks. Julie follows the plan of going to an unlocked shed where she can give birth.
Flight | 1,900 words
An old man is outside with a homing pigeon. As it tries to fly away, he holds it back. He sees his granddaughter waiting for her fiance. He gets angry at the thought that she’s going away.
Homage for Isaac Babel | 1,200 words
The narrator takes Catherine, a thirteen-year old, to visit his fifteen-year-old friend, Philip, at his school. Catherine is eager to go and wants to borrow a collection of Isaac Babel stories to read because Philip reads them. Philip attends an expensive school and has acquired cultivated tastes.
How I Finally Lost My Heart
The narrator tells how she lost her heart. First, she had lunch and tea with two men she used to be in long-term relationships with. These were her two serious loves, and were difficult to get over. She is preparing to meet someone new with the hope this could be serious as well.
A Mild Attack of Locusts | 3,150 words
Warning of a swarm of locusts from the north reaches a farm. It’s been seven years since the last swarm, so they expect their maize crop to be destroyed.
No Witchcraft for Sale | 3,150 words
The Farquars have a son, Teddy. He’s loved by Gideon, a servant of the family. When Teddy is six, he makes a disparaging comment about Gideon’s son, causing Gideon to distance himself from Teddy. One day, a snake spits venom in Teddy’s eyes; Gideon springs into action, attempting to save the boy’s sight.
The natives and the white men are in conflict. One of the natives, The Long One, works for a white man. He complains about one of his wives. The boss puts up with it because The Long One is a good worker. When it becomes excessive, he loses his patience.
Our Friend Judith | 7,250 words
Judith is a single, childless, English woman who lives alone. Judith’s friends narrate the story, speaking about her disposition and life, making judgments on her behavior and interpreting her actions.
The narrator moves into a room previously occupied by several people who moved away without a forwarding address or being missed. She can hear her neighbors sometimes, but has little interaction with others.
A Sunrise on the Veld | 3,500 words
A fifteen-year-old boy wakes up at 4:30 AM to go hunting. He’s excited and energetic, loving life and feeling he is in control of everything.
Through the Tunnel | 4,000 words
An eleven-year-old boy, Jerry, is vacationing with his mother at the beach. Jerry joins a group of older boys who are swimming, but because he is young and foreign they ignore him. They are swimming through a rocky tunnel and Jerry is also determined to do it.
To Room Nineteen
The Rawlings seem to have everything a married couple could want. They have a stable family life, a comfortable home and healthy children. At one point, Matthew Rawlings cheats on his wife, ruining the perfect balance they had.
Wine | 1,900 words
A man and woman go into a Paris cafe. They have little energy or desire for anything in the cafe. There is some hostility between them.
A Woman on a Roof | 3,800 words
During a heat wave, a young woman suns herself on the top of a building. On a nearby roof top, three men are working. They all have different reactions to her.
I will continue to add more Doris Lessing short stories to this page as I come across them.