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Rubenhold was born in Los Angeles to a British father and American mother  and undertook a BA in History at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She then gained an MA in British History and History of Art and an MPhil in History from the University of Leeds, on subject of marriage and child-rearing in the eighteenth century. Rubenhold has also worked in the commercial art world for Philip Mould and as an assistant curator for the National Portrait Gallery.
In 2005, she wrote an accessible history of Harris's List of Covent Garden Ladies and its author in her book The Covent Garden Ladies: Pimp General Jack and the Extraordinary Story of Harris' List, and in 2008 published The Harlot's Handbook: Harris's List, a selection of the directories' "funniest, rudest and most surreal entries".
The BBC later adapted the material for a documentary, presented by Rubenhold herself. The Harlots Handbook was shown on Thursday 29 June 2006, between 9.30pm and 10pm. Rubenhold's work also served as the inspiration for the Channel 4 drama series City of Vice. She also appeared on BBC 2's Balderdash and Piffle, discussing the origins of merkins with burlesque star Immodesty Blaize and on BBC 4's Age of Excess. In 2010 she contributed to the BBC series The Beauty of Maps and to History Cold Case and to Channel 4's Titanic: The Mission. She has appeared on the literary discussion podcast Litbits, discussing literature and truth.
Her book, Lady Worsley's Whim, published in November 2008, is an account of one of the eighteenth century's most sensational sex scandals, the criminal conversation case of Sir Richard Worsley against Maurice George Bisset for having committed adultery with Seymour Dorothy Fleming. It featured as BBC Radio 4's Book of the Week from 3 November 2008 and was adapted into a 90-minute drama for BBC 2 entitled The Scandalous Lady W, broadcast on 17 August 2015, and starring Natalie Dormer.
Rubenhold's most recent work, The French Lesson is set during the Terror in Revolutionary Paris. It follows on from her first novel, Mistress of My Fate, the first book in the Confessions of Henrietta Lightfoot series.
Rubenhold is married to barrister Francis McGrath.
- (2005:a) The Covent Garden Ladies: Pimp General Jack and the extraordinary story of "Harris' List" . Stroud: Tempus ISBN 0-7524-2850-0
- (ed.) (2005:b) "Harris's List of Covent-Garden Ladies": sex in the city in Georgian Britain. Stroud: Tempus
- (2008:a) Lady Worsley’s Whim; An Eighteenth Century Tale of Sex, Scandal and Divorce. Chatto & Windus. US title: The Lady in Red
- (2007:b) The Harlot's Handbook: Harris's List. Tempus
- (2011) Mistress of My Fate; The Confessions of Henrietta Lightfoot Transworld
- (2015) The French Lesson Transworld
- (2019) The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper Doubleday ISBN 978-0-85752-4485
- The Historian vol. 55 no. 4, Blackwell Publishing, 1993, pg 832
- "OCLC Classify -- an Experimental Classification Service". classify.oclc.org. Retrieved 19 September 2018.
- Zeringue, Marshal (8 September 2009). "The Page 99 Test: Hallie Rubenhold's "The Lady in Red"". Retrieved 19 September 2018.
- "Hallie Rubenhold – Author – Broadcaster – Historical Consultant". www.hallierubenhold.com. Retrieved 19 September 2018.
- "BBC – BBC Four Documentaries – The Harlots Handbook". Retrieved 19 September 2018.
- Gallagher, Victoria (11 November 2009). "Transworld secures Hallie Rubenhold series". The Bookseller. Retrieved 29 May 2012.
- "'Untold story' of Ripper victims to Doubleday – The Bookseller". www.thebookseller.com. Retrieved 19 September 2018.