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Tom Stoppard: A Life

Hermione Lee

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.

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Shot through with Stoppard’s voice, and illuminating all his plays, Lee’s gripping narrative draws on unprecedented access to archive material, interviews and long conversations with Stoppard himself. She traces the dramatic story of his family’s flight from Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia, his sudden leap to fame, his personal life and his dazzling successes. A riveting account of a very public and very private man.

Critic Reviews

Hermione Lee’s Tom Stoppard is a prodigious achievement... Stoppard’s life will not need writing again.

John Carey, Sunday Times
Critic Reviews


Roy Foster, TLS, Books of the Year
Critic Reviews

What a life! What a narrator! Insightful, thoughtful and witty: just like the plays.

Sue Prideaux, New Statesman, Books of the Year
Critic Reviews

Lee’s book has the scope of a novel; it is superbly researched and written with a rare empathy and understanding of human nature...This is a hugely impressive work... He is a great playwright, and this is a great biography.

Anthony Roche, Irish Times
Critic Reviews

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, Guardian
Critic Reviews

Tom Stoppard has always made the most of his fate... All those marvellous plays and now this prodigious biography - how lucky can you get?

John Stokes, Times Literary Supplement

Hermione Lee was the President of Wolfson College Oxford from 2008 to 2017 and is a retired professor of English Literature. She has taught at the Universities of Liverpool, York and Oxford, where she held the Goldsmiths’ Chair in English from 1998 to 2008. Her work includes acclaimed biographies, all published by Chatto & Windus, of Virginia Woolf (1996), Edith…

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