The Nobel Prize-winning novelist Doris Lessing, one of the most important English-language writers of the late 20th century, has died aged 94, her publisher said on Sunday (November 17).

Lessing tackled race, ideology, gender politics and the workings of the psyche in a prolific and often iconoclastic career, and won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2007, only the 11th woman to do so.

She died peacefully at her London home in the early hours of the morning, publisher HarperCollins said in a statement.

"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," her agent Jonathan Clowes said.

Born to British parents in what was then Persia, now Iran, on October 22, 1919, Lessing was raised in Southern Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe.

In some 55 novels and collections of short stories and essays, she focused on the role of the family and the individual in society and even ventured into science fiction.

On announcing her Nobel Prize win in 2007, the Swedish Academy's Horace Engdahl described Lessing as "that epicist of the female experience, who with scepticism, fire and visionary power has subjected a divided civilisation to scrutiny."

For health reasons, the then 88-year old Lessing was unable to travel to the official ceremony in Stockholm to receive her prize, so was presented with the prize insignia by Swedish Ambassador Staffan Carlsson at a ceremony in London.

She conceded the award had changed her life.

"My son Peter said, it's very strange, he said, here you are writing away and writing away and suddenly people notice you. This is the thing in a nutshell," she said, before describing in her acceptance speech that receiving the award was "astonishing and amazing".

"But I would like to say that there isn't anywhere to go from here is there unless, like some exemplars, recent ones, I could get a pat on the head from the pope," she said, to laughs from the audience.

Presented by Adam Justice