The Governing Body is delighted to announce that the next President of the College is to be Professor Hermione Lee, FBA, FRSL, CBE, currently the Goldsmiths' Chair of English Literature at Oxford and Fellow of New College.
Hermione Lee grew up in London (her father was a GP in central London) where she went to school at the French Lycée, the City of London School for Girls, and Queen's College. She took a first-class degree in English Literature from St Hilda's College Oxford in 1968 and an MPhil from St Cross College in 1970. 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. She is the literature Delegate to Oxford University Press and serves on the University's Recognition of Distinction Committee.
She is a Fellow of the British Academy, where she is a member of the Publications Committee, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, an Honorary Fellow of St Hilda's and St Cross College, Oxford, and a member of the Athenaeum Club. In 2003 she was made a CBE for services to literature and became a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In the USA, 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 University of Indiana at Bloomington, and the Mel and Lois Tukman Fellow of the New York Public Library's Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers in 2004-5.
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 and was named as one of the New York Times Book Review's best books of 1997. She 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 considerable acclaim in 2007 by Chatto & Windus and Knopf. She 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 well-known for her reviewing, most recently in the Guardian, 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. She was Chair of the Judges for the ManBooker 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.
She is married to John Barnard, Professor Emeritus of English Literature at the University of Leeds.
Hermione Lee says: 'I am delighted and honoured to have been elected to the Presidency of Wolfson College, an institution which since its foundation by Sir Isaiah Berlin in the 1960s has represented some of the best and most forward-looking aspects of Oxford education. It is a non-hierarchical, friendly, international and lively graduate college, a striking modern building in a beautiful riverside setting. Though I shall be sad to stand down from the Goldsmiths Chair, a post in which I have had ten rewarding and fruitful years, and though I hope to maintain my links with the Oxford English Faculty and to keep up my activities as a writer and critic, I look forward to taking on the new challenge of leading, representing, and working for the College.'
She will take up office on 1 October 2008.
More information can be found on Hermione Lee's website.
February 11, 2008
[Photo: Jane Bown]