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 the author of Humanism and Empire: the Imperial Ideal in Fourteenth-Century Italy (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018), The Ugly Renaissance (London: Hutchinson, 2013) – which was named "Book of the Year 2013" in the Times Literary Supplement by Felipe Fernandez-Armesto – and Petrarch and St. Augustine: Classical Scholarship, Christian Theology and the Origins of the Renaissance in Italy (Leiden: Brill, 2012). He has also edited 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). His latest book is Machiavelli: His Life and Times (London: Picador, 2020).
He writes a regular column for History Today (‘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.
Selected reviews of Machiavelli: His Life and Times:
"[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
"Alexander Lee's Machiavelli: His Life and Times 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
"A fine new biography" - Simon Heffer, Daily Telegraph
"[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