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Dame Hermione Lee

Wolfson College President 2008-2017


Hermione Lee is a literary biographer and Professor Emeritus of English Literature. She was President of Wolfson College Oxford from 2008 to 2017, where she founded the Oxford Centre for Life-Writing [OLCW] in 2011, which she currently advises. Her publications include biographies of Virginia Woolf, Edith Wharton and Penelope Fitzgerald (which won the James Tait Black Prize and was one of the New York Times’s 10 best books of 2014), books on Willa Cather, Elizabeth Bowen and Philip Roth, and books on life-writing: Biography: A Very Short Introduction (OUP); Body Parts: Essays on Life-Writing (Chatto & Windus), and (co-edited with Dr Kate Kennedy, Associate Director of OCLW) Lives of Houses (Princeton). She was awarded the 2020 Bio Award for her contribution to advancing the art of biography. Her biography of Tom Stoppard was published by Faber in 2020 and by Knopf in the USA in 2021. She is a Fellow of the British Academy, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature (where she serves on the Council), a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a Trustee of the Wolfson Foundation.

In 2023 New Year Honours she was appointed Dame Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire (GBE) for services to English Literature. She was previously made a CBE in 2003 and a Dame in 2013.

Photo credit: Tom Pilston