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One of the leading literary biographers in the English Speaking World: Professor Dame Hermione Lee


Hermione Lee is Emeritus Professor of English Literature in the English Faculty at Oxford University. She is a biographer and critic whose work includes biographies of Virginia Woolf (1996), Edith Wharton (2006) and Penelope Fitzgerald (2013, winner of the 2014 James Tait Black Prize for Biography and one of the New York Times best 10 books of 2014). She has also written books on Elizabeth Bowen, Philip Roth and Willa Cather, an OUP Very Short Introduction to Biography, and a collection of essays on life-writing, Body Parts. From 1998 to 2008 she was the Goldsmiths’ Professor of English Literature at Oxford.


She is a Fellow of the British Academy and on the Council of the Royal Society of Literature, as well as a Trustee of the Wolfson Foundation and a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2003 she was made a CBE and in 2013 she was made a Dame for services to literary scholarship.


Hermione is well known for her reviews and work in the media and from 1982 to 1986 she presented Channel Four TV’s first books programme, “Book Four”. She has reviewed regularly for The Guardian and for The New York Review of Books. She was Chair of the Judges for the Man Booker Prize for Fiction in 2006, and in 2020 was named the Chair of the David Cohen Prize for Literature.


Tom Stoppard: A Life


The key book for all time on Tom Stoppard: the biography of our greatest living playwright, by one of the leading literary biographers in the English-speaking world, a star in her own right, Hermione Lee.


With unprecedented access to private papers, diaries, letters, and countless interviews with figures ranging from Felicity Kendal to John Boorman and Trevor Nunn to Steven Spielberg, Hermione Lee builds a metiucously researched portrait of one of our greatest playwrights.

Drawing on several years of long, exploratory conversations with Stoppard himself, it tracks his Czech origins and childhood in India to every school and home he’s ever lived in, every piece of writing he’s ever done, and every play and film he’s ever worked on; but in the end this is the story of a complex, elusive and private man, which tells you an enormous amount about him but leaves you, also, with the fascinating mystery of his ultimate unknowability.


Stoppard is the latest in a long line of writers to undergo Lee’s forensic, critical, but lively and compassionate brand of literary biography....Lee’s book is comprehensive and scholarly, but it’s very affectionate too." -- Anna Leszkiewicz, “Hermione Lee on How to Write a Life,” New Statesman, 23-29 October 2020


"Hermione Lee has been allowed to go backstage, enabling her to tell the story in unmatchable detail...It seems unfair that a man of such outrageous gifts should also have been allowed to magic up the perfect biographer to write his life...Her astute accounts of Stoppard’s complex creations are among the great strengths of this exceptional biography...It is one of Lee’s several triumphs to identify the emotions that drive so much of his work." -- Stefan Collini, "An Exceptional Biography", The Guardian, October 3 2020


"Hermione Lee’s Tom Stoppard is a prodigious achievement...Stoppard’s life will not need writing again." -- John Carey, Sunday Times, October 4 2020


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