The Ph.D. Program in History

at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York

GC Events

September 28 9th Annual Leon Levy Biography Lecture: Hermione Lee, “Yet Biographers Pretend They Know People”



6:30 pm

Proshansky Auditorium
Each year, the Leon Levy Center for Biography selects a biographer of undoubted stature to deliver a lecture on the process of researching and writing biography. The Leon Levy Biography Lecture has been delivered by Robert A. Caro, Ron Chernow, Richard Holmes, David Levering Lewis, Robert K. Massie, Stacy Schiff, Hilary Spurling, and Brenda Wineapple.

Hermione Lee is the author of the definitive life of Virginia Woolf, a signal achievement in literary biography, as well as biographies and critical studies of Edith Wharton, Willa Cather, Philip Roth, Elizabeth Bowen, and most recently, the brilliant late-developer Penelope Fitzgerald, who published her first book (a biography) at age 58; Lee won the 2013 James Tait Black Prize for Penelope Fitzgerald: A Life. She has written extensively on the art and craft of ‘life-writing,’ in Virginia Woolf’s Nose: Essays on Biography and Biography: A Very Short Introduction, and participated memorably in the Leon Levy Center’s 2013 Biography Conference. Educated at Oxford, she has taught at the College of William & Mary, the University of Liverpool, and the University of York. In 1998 she was the first woman to be named Goldsmiths’ Professor of English Literature at Oxford University, and in 2008 she was elected the President of Wolfson College, Oxford, where she directs the Oxford Centre for Life-Writing. Lee is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, a Fellow of the British Academy and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2013, she was named Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE).

Free and open to the public. Reservations required online at