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Archive of Hermione Lee


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Working correspondence and papers of academic, biographer and reviewer Hermione Lee, including papers relating to university teaching and administration, literary papers and book drafts, cuttings of newspaper reviews, photographs, and printed ephemera.


  • Creation: 1889-2017, n.d.


41.0 Linear metres (271 boxes)

Language of Materials

  • English

Conditions Governing Access

Some material is closed.

Preferred Citation

Oxford, Bodleian Libraries [followed by shelfmark and folio or page reference, e.g. MS. 12565/22].

Please see our help page for further guidance on citing archives and manuscripts.

Full range of shelfmarks:

MSS. 12565/1-269, MSS. 12565 Photogr. 1-2

Collection ID (for staff)

CMD ID 12565, 12592


Working correspondence and papers of British academic and biographer Hermione Lee.

Biographical / Historical

Hermione Lee (b. 29 Feb 1948) grew up in London and studied English Literature as an undergraduate at St Hilda’s College, Oxford (graduating in 1968), and then took an M.Phil from St Cross College, Oxford in 1970. Her academic career started at the College of William and Mary in Virginia, and then she moved to the University of Liverpool. Lee subsequently worked from 1977-1998 at the University of York, where she was promoted to a personal chair in the Department of English and Related Literature, before moving to the University of Oxford. From 1998 to 2008 Lee was the Goldsmiths’ Professor of English Literature and the first female professorial fellow of New College, Oxford. She married Professor John Barnard (now Professor Emeritus of the University of Leeds).

Between 2008-2017 Lee served as the President of Wolfson College, Oxford, and retired as an Emeritus Professor of English Literature in the English Faculty of Oxford University. In 2012 she founded the Oxford Centre for Life-Writing at Wolfson College (OCLW). She was given Honorary Fellowships at New, St Hilda’s, St Cross and Wolfson College, Oxford, and Honorary Doctorates from the Universities of Liverpool and York and from Kings College London. She became a Fellow of the British Academy and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, where she served on the Council from 2014-2022, as well as a Trustee of the Wolfson Foundation and a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In the USA, she was 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 from 2004-2005. In 2003 Lee accepted a CBE and in 2013 she was made a Dame for services to literary scholarship.

Lee's published work includes biographies of Virginia Woolf (1996), Edith Wharton (2006, longlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize and for the American Quill Awards, and winner of the English Speaking Union Ambassador Prize), Penelope Fitzgerald (2013, which won the 2014 James Tait Black Prize for Biography and the US Plutarch Prize for the best biography of the year) and Tom Stoppard (2020). She also wrote books on Elizabeth Bowen, Philip Roth and Willa Cather, an Oxford University Press Very Short Introduction to Biography, a collection of essays on life-writing, Body Parts and, co-edited with Kate Kennedy, a collection called Lives of Houses (2020).

Lee edited and introduced many editions and anthologies, including 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. In 2020, she received The BIO Award from the Biographers International Organization "for contributions to advancing the art and craft of biography". Lee presented Channel Four TV’s first books programme, Book Four from 1982 to 1986 and participated in numerous TV and radio programmes for broadcasters including the BBC, as well as reviewing regularly for newspapers and journals including The Observer and The New York Review of Books. She also served on literary judging panels, including acting as chair of the judges for the Man Booker Prize for Fiction in 2006 and chairing The David Cohen Prize for a life-time’s literary achievement, from 2020.

(Adapted from

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated to the Bodleian Libraries by Hermione Lee in 2017 and 2020.

Archive of Hermione Lee
Finding aid prepared by Charlotte McKillop-Mash
Language of description
Script of description
Cataloguing was funded by the Wolfson Foundation

Repository Details

Part of the Bodleian Libraries Repository

Weston Library
Broad Street
Oxford OX1 3BG United Kingdom