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Laurie Penny (born 28 September 1986) is an English columnist and author. She has contributed articles to publications such as The Guardian and the New Statesman, and has written two books on feminism.

Laurie Penny
Penny in 2016
Penny in 2016
BornLaura Barnett
(1986-09-28) 28 September 1986 (age 32)
Westminster, London, England, United Kingdom
OccupationColumnist, blogger, author
Alma materWadham College, Oxford


Early life and educationEdit

Penny was born in London, the daughter of the late lawyer Ray Barnett.[1] She is of Irish, Jewish, and Maltese descent[2][3][4] and, in personal comment on her website, described herself as an "atheist child of a lapsed Jew and a lapsed Catholic".[5] She grew up in Brighton[6][7] and Lewes.[8] Penny attended the independent school Brighton College, with a 'large scholarship'.[6][9] She's written about her hospitalisation at age 17 for anorexia and subsequent recovery.[10]

Penny studied English at Wadham College, Oxford, graduating in 2008 with a 2:1.[11] Whilst a student, she joined and performed in a burlesque troupe, and appeared in amateur dramatic productions with the Oxford University Light Entertainment Society, of which she was a committee member.[12][13] She then completed her NCTJ journalism training certificate in London.[14]


Penny's blog, "Penny Red", was launched in 2007[15] and was shortlisted for the Orwell Prize in 2010.[16] She began her career as a staff writer at One in Four magazine and then worked as a reporter and sub-editor for the socialist newspaper Morning Star. She has written columns and features for several publications,[17] and is a columnist for the New Statesman[18] and regular contributor to The Guardian.[19]

In April 2011, Penny presented the Channel 4 Dispatches programme "Cashing In on Degrees", and appeared on the same channel's satirical current affairs programme 10 O'Clock Live[20] and BBC Two's Newsnight.

On 26 March 2012, Penny announced via her Twitter account that she was leaving the New Statesman to take up a full-time post at The Independent newspaper as a reporter and columnist.[21] In October 2012, it was announced that she was leaving The Independent to rejoin the New Statesman (in November) as a columnist and contributing editor.[22]

Penny is the author of Meat Market: Female Flesh Under Capitalism (Zero Books, 2011) and Penny Red: Notes from a New Age of Dissent (Pluto Press, 2011).[7] In Meat Market she mounts an attack on liberal feminism, which she characterises as embracing the consumer choice offered by capitalism as the path to female emancipation.[23] Penny Red was shortlisted for the inaugural Bread and Roses Award for Radical Publishing in 2012. Unspeakable Things: Sex, Lies and Revolution was published in July 2014. Shortly afterwards, Penny stated she had been subjected to "a stream of vile sexist and anti-Semitic abuse" following the book's publication.[24]

Penny was selected by Truthdig as "Truthdigger of the Week" for the week of 25 November 2011.[25] In 2012, Tatler magazine described her as one of top 100 'people who matter'.[26] In October 2012, The Daily Telegraph ranked Penny as the 55th most influential left-winger in Britain, reporting that she is "without doubt the loudest and most controversial female voice on the radical left."[27] In April 2014, Penny was announced as an International Nieman Fellow at Harvard.[28]

In August 2015, Penny endorsed Jeremy Corbyn's campaign in the Labour Party leadership election.[29] She wrote in the New Statesman: "Corbyn, however, has been re-elected by the people of Islington North consistently since 1983 and, like Bernie Sanders in the US, seems as surprised as anyone suddenly to be reaping the rewards of a lifetime of sticking to his principles..."[30]

In January 2018, Penny commented on the controversy surrounding fired Google engineer James Damore, calling his famous memo "eye-poppingly sexist" and defended his dismissal as an act of "basic decency." She stated: "I discriminate against people who are rightwing and conservative. I’m entirely happy to say so."[31]

On March 2018, Penny published an article called "Who Does She Think She Is" on The article is about detailing her experience with misogyny and hatred of women on the internet.[32]

Personal lifeEdit

Penny identifies as pansexual[33] and genderqueer.[34]




  1. ^ "Laurie Penny on the politics of the personal (From Herald Scotland)". Retrieved 2015-11-05.
  2. ^ Penny, Laurie (12 September 2010). "Zionism, chauvinism and the nature of rape". New Statesman. Retrieved 16 May 2013.
  3. ^ Penny, Laurie (13 February 2011). "Julie Burchill's imperialist froth over Israel". New Statesman. Retrieved 16 May 2013.
  4. ^ Penny, Laurie (19 June 2013). "Twitter".
  5. ^ "DON'T BE A DICK: ON ATHEISM, CRUELTY AND KINDNESS". Retrieved 30 June 2016.
  6. ^ a b "Shut up, little girl, don't you know grown-ups are talking?". Laurie Penny – via Penny Red blogspot. 16 November 2009. Retrieved 13 April 2011.
  7. ^ a b "Laurie Penny author profile at Zero Books". Zero books. Retrieved 13 April 2011.
  8. ^ "So they burned Alex Salmond in my hometown". New Statesman. London. 6 November 2014. Retrieved 5 January 2015.
  9. ^ "Laurie Penny: Yes, Mr Gove, I enjoyed an expensive education, but I'm still not on your team". The Independent. 11 May 2012. Retrieved 8 January 2015.
  10. ^ "Life tastes better than skinny feels". London Evening Standard – Laurie Penny. 24 February 2010. Archived from the original on 3 March 2011. Retrieved 13 April 2011.
  11. ^ Conn, David (30 April 2010). "The jobless are no shirking scroungers – you try living on £65.45 a week". The Guardian. Retrieved 4 July 2013.
  12. ^ "Burlesque laid bare". London: Laurie Penny – via The Guardian. 15 May 2009. Retrieved 16 April 2011.
  13. ^ "Previous committees – 2006 social secretary (Wadham)". Oxford Light entertainment society. Retrieved 16 April 2011.
  14. ^ "Penny for your privilege?". Laurie Penny – via Penny Red blogspot. 21 February 2010. Retrieved 24 May 2014.
  15. ^ "We have achieved preambulation. Bring me a sweetie-bag of amphetamines and the head of Margaret Thatcher". Laurie Penny – via Penny Red blogspot. 23 September 2007. Retrieved 13 April 2011.
  16. ^ "Laurie Penny – Student Media Awards judge". The Guardian. London. 11 March 2011. Retrieved 13 April 2011.
  17. ^ "Home page on "Penny Red"". Laurie Penny – via Penny Red blogspot. Retrieved 13 April 2011.
  18. ^ "Pop culture and radical politics with a feminist twist". Laurie Penny blog at the New Statesman online. Retrieved 13 April 2011.
  19. ^ "Laurie Penny profile at The Guardian online". The Guardian. London. 7 August 2009. Retrieved 13 April 2011.
  20. ^ "10 O'Clock Live Episode 11 guest listing at Channel 4 online". Channel 4. 31 March 2011. Retrieved 13 April 2011.
  21. ^ Penny, Laurie "Laurie Penny (@PennyRed)", twitlonger, 26 March 2012.
  22. ^ "Laurie Penny rejoins the New Statesman", New Statesman (The Staggers blog), 10 October 2012.
  23. ^ "Chocolate, Snuggles, and Straight Hair, review of Meat Market". Oxonian Review. Retrieved 4 June 2011.
  24. ^ Unspeakable Things: Feminist author Laurie Penny subjected to 'vile sexist and anti-Semitic abuse' over her book The Independent, 21 July 2014.Retrieved 21 July 2014.
  25. ^ Truthdigger of the Week: Laurie Penny – Truthdigger of the Week – Truthdig
  26. ^ "Laurie Penny". Tatler. Retrieved 2015-11-05.
  27. ^ "Top 100 most influential figures from the Left 2012". The Daily Telegraph. 3 October 2012. Retrieved 9 October 2012.
  28. ^ Nieman Foundation announces the 77th class of Nieman Fellows Harvard, 30 April 2014. Retrieved 22 August 2014.
  29. ^ "Jeremy Corbyn: can he take Labour forward?". Channel 4 News. 18 August 2015. Retrieved 15 July 2017.
  30. ^ Laurie, Penny (23 August 2017). "What the Corbyn moment means for the left". New Statesman. Retrieved 17 July 2017.
  31. ^ Penny, Laurie; James Damore is wrong. It’s fine to discriminate against bigots and bullies; The Guardian; January 11, 2018;
  32. ^ "Who Does She Think She Is?". Longreads. 2018-03-28. Retrieved 2018-04-27.
  33. ^
  34. ^
  35. ^ Flood, Alison (6 March 2012). "New prize for radical writing announces shortlist". Retrieved 2 May 2012.

External linksEdit