Hermione Lee on Tom Stoppard


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.



Tom Stoppard: A Life. Faber & Faber, 2020. ISBN: 9780571314430

Tom Stoppard: A Life. Alfred A. Knopf, 2021. ISBN: 9780451493224

Tom Stoppard A Life by Hermione Lee


1 Oct 2020 -- Stefan Collini, “An Exceptional Biography,” The Guardian. [“An astute study of the dazzlingly clever playwright”]

1 Oct 2020 -- Kate Maltby, “The Real Thing,” Financial Times. [“Yet her research is encyclopedic, her hero charismatic, her scope expansive. She captures the essential morality of Stoppard, a man who puts his faith not in heartless theory, but in his belief that 'all political acts have a moral basis to them and are meaningless without it.' Hers is an essential contribution to theatre history.”]

1 October 2020 -- Nick Curtis, “Fame, Plays and Plaudits,” Evening Standard. [“Lee’s biography captures Stoppard’s humour and kindness, his voracity for knowledge and his sociability. It throws light on his early life in London and his taste.”]

October 2020 -- Craig Raine, “Ladies’ Man: Tom Stoppard’s Love Life Revealed,” The Spectator. [“Here, then, is the life, as well told as it’s ever likely to be.”]


Events & Promotion

28 September 2020 -- Sir Anthony Seldon in conversation with Hermione Lee: My new biography of Tom Stoppard (a virtual, online event). More information on the University of Buckingham website.

30 September 2020 -- Tom Stoppard in conversation with Hermione Lee (a virtual, online event; tickets required). More information on the Guardian event website.

1 October 2020 -- Publication Day for the  Faber & Faber edition. More information on the Faber & Faber website

5-9 October 2020 -- BBC Radio 4 - "Book of the Week". Tom Stoppard: A Life will be featured as the "Book of the Week".


Tom Stoppard & Hermione Lee in Conversation

Hermione Lee interviewed Stoppard for the London Library on 6 May 2016, and in conjunction with the Weidenfeld-Hoffmann Trust and TORCH: The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities on 19 May 2016 (see video).

In 2018, Lee interviewed Stoppard at an event held at the 92nd St Y during which they discussed Stoppard's new play, The Hard Problem, which was set to open at Lincoln Center (see video).