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Dr Alexander Lee

Academic Background


Alexander Lee is a specialist in the cultural and political history of the Renaissance in Italy. After completing his first two degrees at Trinity College, University of Cambridge – where he was a senior scholar and winner of the Earl of Derby Prize for Outstanding Performance in the Tripos Examinations, the James Webb Prize for the History of Ideas, and the Bowen Prize for History – he undertook his doctoral research at the University of Edinburgh. He has previously held posts at the University of Oxford, the Université du Luxembourg, and the Università degli studi di Bergamo, and has also taught at the universities of Edinburgh, Aberdeen, and Lyon 2. He is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society (FRHistS).

He is the author of Machiavelli: His Life and TimesLink opens in a new window (London: Picador, 2020) - which chosen as a "Book of the Year 2020" by both the New Statesman and the Financial Times -, Humanism and Empire: the Imperial Ideal in Fourteenth-Century Italy (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018), The Ugly Renaissance (London: Hutchinson, 2013) – a Times Literary Supplement "Book of the Year 2013" – and Petrarch and St. Augustine: Classical Scholarship, Christian Theology and the Origins of the Renaissance in Italy (Leiden: Brill, 2012). He has also edited The Culture and Politics of Regime Change in Italy, c.1494-c.1559 (Abingdon: Routledge, 2022), Renaissance? Perceptions of Continuity and Discontinuity, c.1300-c.1550 (Leiden: Brill, 2010) and Libertés et citoyenneté urbaines du moyen âge à nos jours (Trier and Luxembourg: CLUDEM, 2015), and is the co-author of The End of Politics: Triangulation, Realignment and the Battle for the Centre Ground (London: Politico’s, 2006). He is currently working on a new history of the Venetian ghettoLink opens in a new window, which will be published by Picador and a volume entitled Why Machiavelli Matters (with Stephen Bowd) for Bloomsbury.

He writes a regular column for History Today ('Missing Pieces', ‘Portrait of the Author as a Historian', 'The Music of Time', 'The Historian's Cookbook', and 'Natural Histories'), and has contributed pieces on a wide range of historical and cultural subjects to the Sunday Telegraph, the Wall Street Journal, the Atlantic, the Guardian, the New Statesman, the Times Literary Supplement, the Catholic Herald, and Dissent.

He is represented by Georgina Capel Associates.

Now in paperback: Machiavelli: His Life and Times (London: Picador, 2020)Link opens in a new window. Selected reviews:

**A New Statesman "Book of the Year 2020Link opens in a new window"

**A Financial Times "Book of the Year 2020Link opens in a new window"

"[T]he definitive book on Machiavelli" - Christopher Hart, Sunday Times

"A wonderfully assured and utterly riveting biography...A monumental achievement." - Jessie Childs, author of God's Traitors

"[A]n utterly absorbing month-by-month, often day-by-day account of Machiavelli's life and career, contextualised through a near-epic history of Florence's involvement in the Italian Wars" - John Guy, Literary Review

"[A] magnificently detailed biography" - Tim Parks, New York Review of Books

"Alexander Lee's exhaustive, immensely readable life of Machiavelli sets a wholly new standard for English-language biographies of the Florentine thinker" - Tony Barber, Financial Times

"A superb work of scholarship, securely grounded in the turbulent Italy of Machiavelli's day, and unflinchingly truthful." - Ferdinand Mount, Prospect

"[A] weighty and impressively detailed biography" - Michael Prodger, The Times

"[A] life of Machiavelli that must surely be definitive in its faithfulness to the man and his experience of his time." - John Gray, New Statesman

"Masterly" - Dan Snow, History Hit

"[I]n this rich new biography from Renaissance historian Alexander Lee, [Machiavelli's] life and times are presented in their complex, contradictory fullness" - Joanne Paul, BBC History Magazine

"Writing an account based on impressive research, Lee tells his story with verve..." - Lauro Martines, Times Literary Supplement

"A fine new biography" - Simon Heffer, Daily Telegraph

 New Book: ed. with B. Maxson, The Culture and Politics of Regime Change in Italy, c.1494-c.1559Link opens in a new window (Abingdon: Routledge, 2022).