Hermione Lee was born in Winchester, England in 1948,
grew up in London, was educated at Oxford, (M.A. First Class, St Hildas
College, 1968; MPhil in Nineteenth and Twentieth Century English Literature,
St Cross College, 1970), 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. She was appointed in 1998 to
the Goldsmiths Chair of English Literature and Fellow of New
College at the University of Oxford. She 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
Hildas and St Cross Colleges, Oxford. She has Honorary Doctorates
from Liverpool and York Universities. In 2003 she was made a Commander
of the British Empire for Services to Literature.
Lee is well known as a writer,
reviewer and broadcaster. She has reviewed widely, for the Times
Literary Supplement, Essays in Criticism, Review of
English Studies, The London Review of Books, The Observer,
The Guardian, The Independent on Sunday, The New
York Review of Books, and the New Yorker, among others.
From 1982 to 1986 she presented a book programme, Book Four,
on British Televisions Channel Four. Her publications include
a study of the novels of Virginia Woolf,
a critical appreciation of the work of Elizabeth
Bowen (extensively revised for Bowens 1999 centenary), a
book on Philip Roth, a literary biography of Willa
Cather, and many editions and introductions,
of Bowen, Stevie Smith, Welty, Kipling, Wharton, Trollope, Woolf,
Penelope Fitzgerald and others.
Her biography of Virginia Woolf
was published in Britain in 1996 and in the USA in 1997, by Knopf,
to great acclaim. It won the British Academy Rose Mary Crawshay prize,
was chosen as a New York Times Book Review Best Book of the
Year and short-listed for the National Book Critics Circle Award for
Biography. Her new biography of Edith Wharton
was published in January 2007 by Chatto & Windus and in April
2007 by Knopf in the USA. It received wide and enthusiastic coverage
and has been long-listed for the Samuel Johnson Non-Fiction Prize
in the UK and for the Quill Award in the USA.
Lee held the Mel and Lois
Tukman Fellowship at the Dorothy and Lewis B Cullman Center for Scholars
and Writers at the New York Public Library for 2004-5. That year she
gave the J Edward Farnum public lectures
at Princeton, on biography, published by Princeton University
Press early in 2005 as Virginia Woolfs
Nose, paperbacked in 2007. Also in 2005, Chatto & Windus
published a collection of eighteen essays, including those lectures,
in Body Parts: Essays on Life-Writing,
paperbacked in 2007. She has held the Donald Gallup Visiting Fellowship
at the Beinecke Library in Yale, Visiting Fellowships at the Council
for the Humanities at Princeton and at the Lilly Library in Indiana,
and a teaching Fellowship at the Beinecke, where she taught a master-class
on biography. She gave the annual Trilling lecture at Columbia University
in April 2007.
Lee is married to the scholar and Emeritus Professor
of Literature John Barnard and has three step-children and five step-grandchildren.
She divides her time between Oxford and Yorkshire.