Lyndall Gordon, Biographer

Lyndall Gordon

Lyndall Gordon grew up in Cape Town where she studied history and English, then nineteenth-century American literature at Columbia in New York. In 1973 she came to England through the Rhodes Trust. For many years she was a tutor and lecturer in English at Oxford where she is now Senior Research Fellow at St Hilda’s College.

Virago has published her six biographies and two memoirs. Lyndall is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and member of PEN. She is married to Professor of Cellular Pathology, Siamon Gordon; they live in Oxford and have two grown-up daughters.

"Literary history has a tendency to focus on the great deeds of renowned men. Women’s lives often end up sinking like dresses in a lagoon, pushed down by the rudders of ignorance and neglect. Lyndall Gordon’s writing inflates them with life-saving breath which allows them to float and sparkle in the sunlight of recognition."

Review by Karina Szczurek, author of Invisible Others.

Complete review: LitNet

To come: celebrating Eliot on the fiftieth anniversary of his death

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Monday, 22 December at 4.30. BBC Radio 4: ‘Beyond Belief’. A discussion about Eliot’s life and work.

‘How Eliot Looked at Lives’. The Hudson Review, New York (winter 2015)

Saturday, 3 January 2015: ‘Eliot’s Reputation’, including the latest volume of Letters. Guardian Review.

A commemorative talk at Keats House on 8 January 2015. ‘Footfalls Echo in the Memory’: Eliot’s Expatriation.

Eliot’s Memories at Burnt Norton. Inaugural talk for the Chipping Campden Festival on 5 May 2015.


Divided Lives: Dreams of a Mother and Daughter (Virago hardback 2014; paperback: spring 2015). A daughter, in childhood, is called on to be the secret sharer of her mother’s illness and creativity. Here are kin who are alike as readers and dreamers, whose dreams will take them different ways: the mother, Rhoda Press, as visionary; the daughter exploring the question of how to be a woman.

ISBN: 978-1844088898

'Literature is where their relationship blossomed and where it is now preserved'
Claire Harman, The Guardian

'A biographer with soul, she reaches into the hearts of those she brings alive for us. She makes the meaning of their lives sing and sweat as she invites us into their experiences, their longings, their struggles and their disappointments. [A] fascinating mix between memoir and biography'
Susie Orbach, The Observer

'Prose both lyrical and meticulous... beautiful',
Juliet Nicolson, Evening Standard

Excerpt in The Hudson Review