Alison Light is a full-time writer. She is the author of five books of non-fiction to date and numerous other publications; she is a regular contributor to the London Review of Books and has written for the Guardian, the New Statesman, and the Times Literary Supplement among others.  She writes and broadcasts chiefly on issues to do with British cultural life, literature and history. She is a Fellow of the British Academy, of the Royal Society of Literature and of the Royal Historical Society.

She is currently Honorary Professor in the Department of English, University College, London and Honorary Professorial Fellow in the Department of English Literature at Edinburgh University. She is also an Honorary Fellow of Pembroke College, Oxford.

She was born in Portsmouth, UK and took a degree in English at Churchill College, Cambridge University. She then worked as a school teacher, as a studio manager at the BBC, and taught part-time in adult education. She gained a doctorate from Sussex University and has lectured, often part-time, in English at a number of institutions including Brighton Polytechnic, Royal Holloway College, and Newcastle University.

All her books have been enthusiastically reviewed in the national and international press. Mrs Woolf and the Servants (2007) was also runner-up for the Longmans History Prize and longlisted for the Samuel Johnson (now the Baillie Gifford) prize in non-fiction.  Common People (2014) was shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson prize.

As the widow of the socialist historian, Raphael Samuel, who died in 1996, she spent several years helping to establish the Raphael Samuel History Centre and Archive: both are now flourishing in London. Her latest book, A Radical Romance, is a memoir of their marriage. 




Alison Light
(Photo: John O’Halloran)




Alison is co-editor of The Feminist Library, a new series for Edinburgh University Press, of essays in recent literary and cultural criticism. Her own volume, Inside History, came out in December 2021 and is available from www.edinburghuniversitypress.com

A Radical Romance  wins the PEN Ackerley 2020 prizeA Radical Romance book cover
The PEN Ackerley Prize is the only prize in the UK for memoir and autobiography.
Find out more
Listen to Alison reading from the book

A Radical Romance will be published in New York by Heliotrope in 2022.

A piece in Spitalfields Life on Alison's time living there: Alison Light’s Spitalfields

Recent podcasts

Listen to Alison talk about Agatha Christie in the US series of podcasts, All About Agatha.

Recent articles

Alison's review in The Guardian of Madeleine Bunting’s book, Labours of Love: The Crisis of Care, about care, paid and unpaid, in today's society:
Labours of Love by Madeleine Bunting review – a humbling book about care

Alison reviews Paula Byrne's The Adventures of Miss Barbara Pym: A Biography
Some Sad Turtle: Spinsters and Clerics in the London Review of Books, July 2021

Alison writes about Charles Booth's survey of the London poor:
The general tone is purple in the London Review of Books, July 2020 

See all Alison's reviews in the London Review of Books

Light gives our thoughts space to breathe alongside her own.
Intelligent Life Magazine, Economist

Her instincts continue to be those of the dissenter.
London Review of Books

Inside History book cover


© Alison Light 2022