Professor Dame Hermione Lee grew up in London
and was educated at Oxford. She began her academic career as a
lecturer in Williamsburg, Virginia (Instructor, 1970-1971) and
at Liverpool University (Lecturer, 1971-1977). She taught at the
University of York from 1977, where over twenty years she was
Lecturer, Senior Lecturer, Reader, and Professor of English Literature.
From 1998-2008 she was the Goldsmiths' Chair of English Literature
and Fellow of New College at the University of Oxford. In 2008
Lee was elected President of Wolfson College, University of Oxford.
Lee is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature,
a Fellow of the British Academy and of the American Academy of
Arts and Sciences, and an Honorary Fellow of St Hilda's and St
Cross Colleges, Oxford. She has Honorary Doctorates from Liverpool
and York Universities.
Her numerous works are
available online via Vintage,
& Windus, Alfred
A. Knopf, Random
House Canada, Amazon.co.uk,
or from a variety of quality independent booksellers through
or Book Sense.
Hermione Lee on Alice Munro
"Alice Munro's Magic." New York Review of Books, 5 February 2015. [Reviews Munro's Family Furnishings: Selected Stories, 1995–2014].
From the Essay:
"The stories selected in Family Furnishings, a fine and timely follow-up to Alice Munro’s winning of the 2013 Nobel Prize, date (it says on the cover) from 1995 to 2014, thus making a sequel to the Selected Stories of 1996, which drew on the previous thirty years of Munro’s writing. But there is one exception to this dating in the new selection, the magnificent story “Home.” “Home” was first published in a collection of Canadian stories in 1974, so it was written when Munro was in her early forties. She then went on working on it for thirty years, revising, correcting, and changing its shape, and it was republished in much-altered form in 2006: so it appears here as a “late” story. That process of revisiting is fundamental to Munro’s methods. She constantly revises her work; she reuses her subject matter with the utmost concentration and attention; and her characters, like her (and often they are like her), compulsively return to their pasts."
Fitzgerald: A Life
Winner of the the James Tait Black Prize
A "Top Ten" Book of 2014 -- New York Times
Available in Paperback from Vintage
(UK) & Hardback from Knopf.
Penelope Fitzgerald (19162000) was a
great English writer, who would never have described herself
in such grand terms. Her novels were short, spare masterpieces,
self-concealing, oblique and subtle. She won the Booker Prize
for her novel Offshore in 1979, and her last work, The Blue
Flower, was acclaimed as a work of genius. The early novels
drew on her own experiences a boat on the Thames in the
1960s; the BBC in war time; a failing bookshop in Suffolk; an
eccentric stage-school. The later ones opened out to encompass
historical worlds which, magically, she seemed to possess entirely:
Russia before the Revolution; post-war Italy; Germany in the
time of the Romantic writer Novalis.
Fitzgeralds life is as various and as
cryptic as her fiction. It spans most of the twentieth century,
and moves from a Bishops Palace to a sinking barge, from
a demanding intellectual family to hardship and poverty, from
a life of teaching and obscurity to a blaze of renown. She was
first published at sixty and became famous at eighty. This is
a story of lateness, patience and persistence: a private form
Loved and admired, and increasingly recognised
as one of the outstanding novelists of her time, she remains,
also, mysterious and intriguing. She liked to mislead people
with a good imitation of an absent-minded old lady, but under
that scatty front were a steel-sharp brain and an imagination
of wonderful reach. This brilliant account by a biographer
whom Fitzgerald herself admired pursues her life, her
writing, and her secret self, with fascinated interest.
Hermione Lee on Penelope Fitzgerald:
Fitzgerald: Staying Afloat." The Guardian, 25
October 2013. [Hermione Lee looks back at Fitzgerald's free
yet fraught way of life on the Thames in the 60s that would
inform her Booker prize-winning novel, Offshore.]
Hensher, Philip. The
Guardian, 1 November 2013. From the Review: "Hermione
Lee has done a superb job, capturing the novelist's elusive
personality and telling a complex, sometimes harrowing story."
Wullschlager, Jackie. "Penelope Fitzgerald
by Hermione Lee." Financial Times, 1 November
2013. From the Review: "Lee elucidates the depth
of [Fitzgerald's] achievement, and ties it enthrallingly to
a life and personality more complex and difficult than anyone
imagined. Julian Barnes once pinpointed Fitzgeralds
courteous, elusive self-presentation as a jam-making
grandmother who scarcely knew her way in the world.
In a perfect literary biography, Lee plumbs the creative mind
beneath that persona, tracing the metamorphosis of messy experience
into crystalline art."
a singularly English novelist." The Economist,
2 November 2013.
Townshend, Emma. The
Independent, 3 November 2013. From the Review:
"This book will hold insights and treats for any
admirer of her fiction, and recruit converts to this reticent,
witty, ferocious champion of the utterly downtrodden."
Shakespeare, Nicholas. The Telegraph,
5 November 2013. From the Review: "[Lee] is excellent
on the tensions of living at close quarters with an ineffectual
partner, and on the bread and butter of a writers existence,
at the mercy of publishers who underpay and undervalue."
Roberts, Michèle. The
Independent, 8 November 2013. From the Review:
"Penelope protected herself by pretending to be a
gentle, old-fashioned, absent-minded eccentric. From underneath
this woolly disguise she could shoot razor-sharp barbs when
necessary. She also wrote penetrating literary criticism,
deploying quiet scholarship, wry humour, wisdom and generosity.
Lee mirrors her lovingly, and does her lucid justice."
McCrum, Robert. The
Guardian, 16 November 2013. From the Review: "Thanks
to this sympathetic biography, her afterlife shows signs of
becoming finally blessed with understanding, admiration and
for the U.S. edition of Hermione Lee's Penelope Fitzgerald:
Brownigg, Sylvia. "Hermione
Lee: A Profile." NARRATIVE, Fall 2014. (Login
Chee, Alexander. "The
Lady Vanished." Slate Book Review, November
2014. ["[A] sumptuous biography."]
Hopley, Claire. "Life
of a Subtle English Novelist." Washington Times,
14 November 2014. ["Ms. Lee ... has been able to draw on
a rich supply of memories and anecdotes, which give her book
a freshness usually lacking in biographies of people who
have been long dead. Perhaps more significantly as a biographer
whose previous subjects include Virginia Woolf, Willa Cather
and Edith Wharton, she has an educated sensitivity to the
minutiae of the lives of female writers."]
[Interview]. Lee, Hermione. "Penelope
Fitzgerald Began Her Esteemed Writing Career at Sixty."
The Leonard Lopate Show, 17 November 2014. [Audio available
to stream or download.]
Garner, Dwight. "The
Editors Daughter, Tempered by Homelessness, Picks Up Her
Pen." New York Times, 18 November 2014. ["[Fitzgerald]
was nobodys ditsy aunt. She was a steely woman who lived
a strange and altogether remarkable life, one that Hermione
Lee unpicks with sympathy and wit in Penelope Fitzgerald:
A Life, her excellent new biography."]
Schiff, Stacy. "Penelope
Fitzgerald: A Life,
by Hermione Lee." New York Times (Sunday Book
Review), 21 November 2014. ["Lees delicate portrait
is entirely in keeping with the spirit of a woman who sneaks
the line Writers families, in small houses, suffer
greatly into an account of her fathers early career,
otherwise known as her childhood."]
War, Then Marriage." Wall Street Journal, 21
November 2014. ["In Penelope Fitzgerald, Ms.
Lee is as direct as she can be about the episodes and phases
of life that Fitzgerald preferred to pass over in silence. Her
research is meticulous. She has combed the drafts of unfinished
work, publishers internal memos, private letters, reviews
Wood, James. "Late
Bloom." The New Yorker, 24 November 2014. ["The
private story is much stranger and sadder and more haphazard,
as Hermione Lees remarkable biography Penelope
Fitzgerald: A Life (Knopf) reveals. The story that Lees
book tells (or tries to tell, because much evidence has been
obscured or lost) is not about patience on a monument but about
talent buried under a heavy plinth, and discovered only just
in timethe late achievement less a measured distillation
than a lifesaving decoction."]Hollinghurst, Alan. "The
Victory of Penelope Fitzgerald." New York Review
of Books, 4 December 2014. ["Lee's book is a championing
critical biography giving richly illuminating consideration
to each of Fitzgeralds undefinable books, and it can be
forgiven for its refusal to find any fault with them."]