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Hermione Lee

Author of Virginia Woolf

27+ Works 2,660 Members 37 Reviews 2 Favorited

About the Author

Hermione Lee is the first woman Goldsmiths' Professor of English Literature at Oxford University.
Image credit: University of Oxford


Works by Hermione Lee

Virginia Woolf (1997) 946 copies
Edith Wharton (2007) 536 copies
Penelope Fitzgerald: A Life (2013) 245 copies
Tom Stoppard: A Life (2020) 94 copies
The Secret Self: Short Stories by Women (1985) — Editor — 85 copies
The Mulberry Tree: Writings of Elizabeth Bowen (1999) — Editor — 71 copies
Philip Roth at 80: A Celebration (2014) — Contributor — 58 copies
The Secret Self 2: Short Stories by Women (1987) — Editor — 53 copies
Lives of Houses (2020) — Editor — 39 copies
The Hogarth Letters (1985) 38 copies

Associated Works

To the Lighthouse (1927) — Introduction, some editions — 17,423 copies
The Bookshop (1977) — Introduction, some editions — 2,775 copies
The Collected Stories of Eudora Welty (1980) — Introduction, some editions — 2,426 copies
Everything That Rises Must Converge: Stories (1965) — Introduction, some editions — 2,358 copies
Offshore (1979) — Preface, some editions — 1,311 copies
One of Ours (1922) — Introduction, some editions — 1,210 copies
The Beginning of Spring (1988) — Preface, some editions — 820 copies
Sapphira and the Slave Girl (1940) — Introduction, some editions — 671 copies
Human Voices (1980) — Preface, some editions — 517 copies
Alexander's Bridge (1912) — Introduction, some editions — 456 copies
At Freddie's (1982) — Preface, some editions — 378 copies
On Being Ill (1926) — Introduction, some editions — 241 copies
Personal impressions (1980) — Foreword, some editions — 212 copies
The Pleasure of Reading (1992) — Contributor — 188 copies
Traffics and Discoveries (1904) — Editor, some editions — 174 copies
Good Fiction Guide (2001) — Editor — 152 copies
A House of Air: Selected Writings (2003) — Introduction, some editions — 141 copies
Strangers (1954) — Introduction, some editions — 140 copies
The Love Child (1927) — Introduction, some editions — 136 copies
Hyde Park Gate News: The Stephen Family Newspaper (2005) — Foreword, some editions — 95 copies
The State of the Language [1990] (1979) — Contributor — 88 copies
A Room of One's Own and Other Essays (1994) — some editions — 53 copies
Selected Letters (Virginia Woolf) (2008) — Introduction — 41 copies
The Short Stories of Willa Cather (1989) — Introduction, some editions — 27 copies
LRB Selections: Penelope Fitzgerald (2021) — Introduction — 3 copies
Oxford Poets 2000: An Anthology (2000) — Editor — 2 copies
Oxford Poets 2001: An Anthology (2001) — Editor — 2 copies
Oxford Poets 2002: An Anthology (2002) — Editor — 1 copy


1001 (91) 1001 books (94) 20th century (674) American (179) American literature (255) biography (681) Bloomsbury (163) books (106) books about books (151) British (419) British fiction (104) British literature (374) classic (398) classics (488) ebook (131) England (301) English (207) English literature (410) essays (158) family (121) feminism (117) fiction (4,175) historical fiction (92) Kindle (142) literary criticism (91) literary fiction (113) literature (771) modernism (335) non-fiction (300) novel (832) own (155) read (342) short stories (715) stream of consciousness (187) to-read (1,862) unread (241) Virginia Woolf (258) women (147) Woolf (126) WWI (132)

Common Knowledge

Canonical name
Lee, Hermione
Country (for map)
England, UK
Winchester, Hampshire, England, UK
Places of residence
London, England, UK
Yorkshire, England, UK
Oxford University (St Hilda's College)
Lycée Français Charles de Gaulle, London
Queen's College, London
Oxford University (St Cross)
City of London School for Girls
Emeritus Professor of English Literature
Barnard, John (husband)
Lee, Benjamin (father)
Awards and honors
Honorary Doctorate (University of York | 2007)
British Academy (Fellow)
Royal Society of Literature (Fellow)
Order of the British Empire (Commander, 2003)
Charles Walker (United Agents)
Short biography
Hermione Lee was born in Winchester, England, and grew up in London. She was educated at the Lycée Français Charles de Gaulle, City of London School for Girls, and Queen's College, London, before earning a First in English literature at Oxford University and then an MPhil degree. She began her academic career at The College of William and Mary in Virginia, USA, and went on to teach at Liverpool University, the University of York (1977-1998), and New College, Oxford, where she was the Goldsmiths' Chair of English Literature and the first female fellow. In 2008, she was elected President of Wolfson College at Oxford. She has written widely on women writers, American literature, and modern fiction. Prof. Lee's books include The Novels of Virginia Woolf (1977), Elizabeth Bowen: An Estimation (1981); Philip Roth (1982), Willa Cather: A Life Saved Up (1989), the biography Virginia Woolf (1996), and Penelope Fitzgerald: A Life (2013), winner of the James Tait Black Prize. She has also 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.

She is also well known for her book reviews in The Guardian, The New York Review of Books, and other media. She served as jury chair for the Man Booker Prize for Fiction in 2006, and has judged many other literary prizes.
She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, and a Fellow of the British Academy and of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.



Another great Christmas gift from my parents.

Just finished a few days ago. Lots of incredible detail (too much in fact) but surprisingly absent is much discussion about how Wharton actually became a professional writer. To me that's one of the most interesting questions. Still, as a Henry James fanatic, it's nice to get a richer sense of this very important person in his life.
lschiff | 11 other reviews | Sep 24, 2023 |
I’m embarrassed to admit that I had never heard of Penelope Fitzgerald before researching my most recent book, Library Lin’s Biographies, Autobiographies, and Memoirs. A few years ago, I watched the movie, The Bookshop, and loved it. But I was unaware the film was based on a book or who had written it.

Hermione Lee has a reputation as an excellent biographer. Penelope Fitzgerald: A Life is the first of her biographies I have read. If this book indicates her skill, I will go out of my way to read others.

Once you got past the lengthy section on Fitzgerald’s illustrious family, what was so compelling about the book was the sense you get of knowing the subject. Even though Lee sometimes expresses frustration with Fitzgerald’s secretiveness, she makes you feel like you know her intimately. After all, we can live with people for years and know little about what goes on in their minds.

Fitzgerald lived an unusual life, encompassing privilege, education, poverty, and hard work. Her father’s role as editor at Punch and her esteemed uncles’ involvements with Oxford and the Enigma project during World War II opened some doors for her. As did her education at Oxford. But her husband’s difficulty dealing with the aftermath as a World War II soldier led to his heavy drinking, which drove his family to near-destitution. Penelope was forced to work hard to keep the family afloat.

The family’s poverty led to unforgettable experiences, such as living in an old barge on the river Thames, which was fodder for Fitzgerald’s future novels. The barge, for example, led to her novel, Offshore. Lee did such a masterful job explaining what may have influenced Fitzgerald and the brilliance of her works (which included biographies and novels) that I am determined to read them all at some point in my life. And that is the highest compliment I can give a biographer. Lee has inspired me to read more on her subject.
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Library_Lin | 6 other reviews | Mar 21, 2023 |
Big book about a substantial body of work. This Wunderkind of the 60s was, is, in the 2000s, still engaged, producing plentiful plays and more. You may have missed some of these remarkable works; you may, like me, have assumed dazzle and wit were Stoppard’s keynotes, unaware of the depth and interest, scholarliness really, in his writing’s themes.
He’s an intellectual of course, but his approach is practical: a “brazen pragmatist” is his self-description. We see this in his continued labouring at his plays and texts, working alongside new casts and directors, even decades on. We see it too in his wariness of ideologues, as in the crucial Herzen speech in “Utopia,” valuing the here and now, as set against the fanciful aims of the destroyers, the nihilists with their unattainable (i.e. utopian) certainties. A humane and moral outlook, but not neat or predictable conclusions, is Stoppard’s way.
Biographer Hermione Lee presents all this thoroughly and wisely. The touching and sad Czech family history from which Stoppard emerged, already in focus from “Leopoldstadt” and his discoveries that underlay that play, is well described.
This book, the subject’s productive life really, is very long, but is never a slog. Lee’s exposition of Stoppard’s works is of value in itself. And her treatment of his character is coloured with affection and respect, not judgement. The reader comes to share that admiration, and is likely to come away with a stocked reading (or viewing) list from the wealth of references traversed.
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eglinton | Jul 30, 2022 |
Edith Wharton is one of my favorite authors, so when I came across this biography in a used bookshop, I snapped it up. And then it sat on my shelves for over a decade. So much for my fan-girl enthusiasm. I decided 2022 was the year to right this wrong. With more than 700 pages of text I knew I would need to pace myself, and spread my reading out over the first three months of the year.

Hermione Lee has built a reputation for solid, well-researched biographies of literary figures, and this book is no exception. Wharton’s life story is divided into three parts: from her birth in 1861 to World War I, the war years, and the post-war period until her death in 1937. Wharton came of age in New York society, and is known for novels set in that milieu. But her early career was focused on the decorative arts, bringing European style to America before making her name in fiction with The House of Mirth, published in 1905. Wharton made a disastrous marriage, which she escaped by moving to Paris and becoming part of a learned and literary set (divorce came years later, and only after her husband exhibited serious mental health issues). Wharton threw herself into the war effort by founding and operating a number of charities. Post-war she remained in Europe, ultimately owning two homes in France.

Lee delves deep both into Wharton’s literary career, and her personal life and relationships. She comes across as simultaneously sympathetic and complicated and difficult, a product of her time and class. There is no debate about her literary genius, but even there Lee shows how her reputation grew and then, around the time of her death, began to decline. In the late 20th century, Wharton’s work experienced a resurgence thanks to the 1990s film adaptation of The Age of Innocence and feminist publishers like Virago Press.

I have just two quibbles about this book. First, its length, requiring a genuine interest in Wharton to even attempt it. And second, Lee assumes readers have a basic command of French. Not surprisingly, much of Wharton’s correspondence was in French. Sometimes these passages are translated, but far too often they are not. This makes additional work for the non-fluent reader, and I found the inconsistency annoying. That said, I really enjoyed this deep dive into a favorite author’s life and would recommend it highly to any Edith Wharton fan.
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lauralkeet | 11 other reviews | Mar 27, 2022 |



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