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Dame Hermione Lee, DBE, FBA, FRSL (born 29 February 1948)[1] was President of Wolfson College, Oxford, and a former Goldsmiths' Professor of English Literature in the University of Oxford and professorial fellow of New College. She is a fellow of the British Academy and of the Royal Society of Literature.[2]

Early life and educationEdit

Born in Winchester, Hampshire, Lee grew up in London, where her father was a GP. She was educated at the Lycée Français Charles de Gaulle, City of London School for Girls, and Queen's College, London. She took a first-class degree in English Literature at St Hilda's College, Oxford, in 1968 and an MPhil at St Cross College, Oxford, in 1970.[3]

Academic careerEdit

She has taught at the College of William and Mary in Virginia, at the University of Liverpool (where she was given an Honorary DLitt in 2002) and at the University of York, from 1977 to 1998, where she had a personal chair in the Department of English and Related Literature, and where she received an Honorary DLitt in 2007. Since 1998, she has been the Goldsmiths' Professor of English Literature and the first woman professorial fellow of New College, Oxford.[4] She succeeded Sir Gareth Roberts as the sixth president of Wolfson College, Oxford, in 2008, serving until the end of academic year 2016–17. She is a lifetime honorary fellow of the Rothermere American Institute at the University of Oxford.[5]


She is a fellow of the British Academy, a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, a fellow of the Rothermere American Institute, University of Oxford, an honorary fellow of St Hilda's and St Cross College, Oxford;[3] and a member of the Athenaeum Club.

Lee was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 2003 for services to literature and was appointed Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in the 2013 Birthday Honours for services to literary scholarship.[6]

In the US, she has been a visiting teaching fellow at the Beinecke Library at Yale University, a Whitney J. Oates Fellow at the Council for the Humanities at Princeton, an Everett Helm visiting fellow at the Lilly Library at the Indiana University at Bloomington, and the Mel and Lois Tukman Fellow of the New York Public Library's Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers in 2004–05. In 2003, she became a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.


Hermione Lee has written widely on women writers, American literature, life-writing, and modern fiction. Her books include The Novels of Virginia Woolf (1977); a study of the Anglo-Irish novelist Elizabeth Bowen (1981, revised 1999); a short critical book, the first published in Britain, on Philip Roth (1982); a critical biography of the American novelist Willa Cather, Willa Cather: A Life Saved Up (1989, reissued in a revised edition by Virago in 2008); and a major biography of Virginia Woolf (1996), which won the British Academy Rose Mary Crawshay Prize,[7] and was named as one of the New York Times Book Review′s best books of 1997.

Lee has also published a collection of essays on biography and autobiography, Body Parts: Essays on Life-Writing (2005), and a biography of Edith Wharton, published to mixed reviews in 2007 by Chatto & Windus and Knopf. Lee has edited and introduced numerous editions and anthologies of Kipling, Trollope, Virginia Woolf, Stevie Smith, Elizabeth Bowen, Willa Cather, Eudora Welty, and Penelope Fitzgerald. She was one of the co-editors of the Oxford Poets Anthologies from 1999 to 2002.

Hermione Lee is also known for her reviews, most recently in The Guardian,[8] The New York Review of Books,[9] and her work in the media. From 1982 to 1986, she presented Channel Four's first books programme, Book Four, and she contributes regularly to Front Row and other radio arts programmes.[4] She was chair of the Judges for the Man Booker Prize for Fiction in 2006, and has judged many other literary prizes. She has served on the literature advisory panels of the Arts Council and the British Council.

Personal lifeEdit

She is married to Professor John Barnard, professor emeritus of the University of Leeds.[10]

Awards and honoursEdit

Partial bibliographyEdit

  • The Novels of Virginia Woolf (1977)
  • Elizabeth Bowen: An Estimation (1981)
  • Philip Roth (1982)
  • Willa Cather: Double Lives (1989)
  • Virginia Woolf (1996)
  • Body Parts (2002)
  • Virginia Woolf's Nose: Essays on Biography(2005)
  • Edith Wharton (2007)
  • Biography: A Very Short Introduction (2009)
  • Penelope Fitzgerald: A Life (2013)


  1. ^ Date of birth from "Hermione Lee" in Contemporary Authors Online, Gale, entry update 17 July 2003
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 18 January 2014. Retrieved 16 January 2014.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  3. ^ a b "Author Biography", Hermione Lee website.
  4. ^ a b "Hermione Lee", Lannan.
  5. ^ "Distinguished Fellows", Rothermere American Institute.
  6. ^ "No. 60534". The London Gazette (Supplement). 15 June 2013. p. 7.
  7. ^ "Hermione Lee", Literature, British Council.
  8. ^ "Hermione Lee". The Guardian. Retrieved 16 January 2014.
  9. ^ "Hermione Lee", The New York Review of Books.
  10. ^ "President-elect", Wolfson College.
  11. ^ "Authors join book prize's hall of fame". University of Edinburgh. Retrieved 23 August 2014.
  12. ^ "2015 Plutarch Award Presented to Hermione Lee's Penelope Fitzgerald".

External linksEdit

Academic offices
Preceded by
Jon Stallworthy
President of Wolfson College, Oxford
Succeeded by
Philomen Probert
Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Kate Flint
Ruth Smith
Rose Mary Crawshay Prize
Succeeded by
Moyra Haslett
Katie Trumpener