Professor Dame Hermione Lee Awarded GBE

Professor Dame Hermione Lee, a St Cross alumna (MPhil English, 1968) and Honorary Fellow, has been awarded a Dame Grand Cross (GBE), the highest Order of the British Empire honour, for services to English Literature. 

hermione lee

Professor Lee, a biographer and literary critic, has written notable works such as biographies of Virginia Woolf, Edith Wharton, Penelope Fitzgerald, and Tom Stoppard, as well as books on Elizabeth Bowen, Philip Roth, and Willa Cather. She has also written Biography: A Very Short Introduction (for OUP) and a collection of essays on life-writing titled Body Parts. 

She is an Emeritus Professor at the University of Oxford, having served as the Goldsmiths’ Professor of English Literature from 1998 to 2008 and the President of Wolfson College from 2008 until 2017. 

Professor Lee was made a CBE in 2003 and a DBE in 2013 before receiving her new title in the 2023 New Year Honours List. She is currently working on a biography of novelist and art historian Anita Brookner.

"I am delighted and amazed to receive this Honour, and especially glad that it is given in part for my work in founding The Oxford Centre for Life-Writing at Wolfson College, which is described in the citation as 'having a national and international reputation both as a significant interdisciplinary cultural presence, and as a unique hub of activities related to all kinds of life-writing, reaching out to people and communities beyond the University,'" Professor Lee said.

"I'm also very happy that the citation for the Honour noted that I was the first woman President of Wolfson College. My interest in Graduate Colleges dates back to the proud moment in 1968 when I was awarded a graduate scholarship at St Cross; it was that experience of being at St Cross which, 40 years on, in part led me to taking on the presidency of Wolfson.

"I'm thrilled to be on a list that includes, from the 1920s, the opera singer Nellie Melba, the actress Ellen Terry and the feminist and suffragist Millicent Fawcett, as well as a number of distinguished women scientists and lawyers. As far as I can see, no academic working in the Humanities has received this Honour before, which is a source of great pride and excitement for me."