Lorna Sage (13 January 1943 – 11 January 2001) was an English academic, as well as an award-winning literary critic and author, known widely for her contribution to the consideration of women's writing.
The eldest child of Valma and Eric Stockton, she was named after Lorna Doone. Sage was born at Whitchurch, Shropshire, England, and educated at the nearby Hanmer village school in Flintshire, Wales, then at the Girls' High School in Whitchurch. Her childhood in the late 1940s and early 1950s is recalled in her last book Bad Blood. Sage became pregnant when she was 15 but was able to continue her education and won a scholarship to read English at Durham University, only after the university changed its admission rules to allow married couples to study there. Sage went on to receive an MA from Birmingham University for a thesis on seventeenth century poetry.
All of her academic career was spent at the University of East Anglia, where she was Professor of English Literature from 1994. She edited The Cambridge Guide to Women's Writing in English (1999) which has become a standard work. In the Preface she wrote: "In concentrating on women's writing...you stress the extent and pace of change, for the scale of women's access to literary life has reflected and accelerated democratic, diasporic pressures in the modern world". At her death, she left behind the draft of the first part of a work on Plato and Platonism in literature.
Sage's book reviews appeared in the London Review of Books, The Times Literary Supplement, the New York Times Book Review and The Observer, mentioning the works of Angela Carter, as well as covering studies of works of numerous authors, including Christina Stead, Doris Lessing, Thomas Love Peacock, John Milton and Thomas Hardy.
Her autobiographical memoir Bad Blood was a tragic story of childhood disappointment in a family where warped behaviour is passed down the family from generation to generation. The book won the Whitbread Biography Award on 3 January 2001 a week before Sage died in London, having suffered from emphysema for most of her life. The book missed out on receiving the accolade of Whitbread Book of the Year at the award ceremony on 23 January 2001.
Sage married Victor Sage while still in her teens and their daughter, Sharon, was born in 1959 just before they went up to Durham University. The couple later divorced and Sage married Rupert Hodson in 1979.
- Peacock: The Satiral Novels (1976)
- Doris Lessing (1983)
- Last Edwardians: An Illustrated History of Violet Trefusis & Alice Keppel (1985)
- Angela Carter (1990)
- Women in the House of Fiction (1992)
- Flesh and the Mirror; Essays on the Art of Angela Carter (1994)
- The Cambridge Guide to Women's Writing in English (1999)
- Bad Blood (2000)
- Moments of Truth: Twelve Twentieth century Women Writers (2001): a collection of her literary essays
- Good as her word: Selected Journalism (2004)
- ODNB entry by Maureen Duffy. Retrieved 22 January 2013. Pay-walled.
- ODNB entry.
- "Double first for novel newcomer Zadie Smith" by John Ezard, The Guardian, 4 January 2001.
- Bio at West Midlands Literary Heritage
- List of Reviews available at London Review of Books
- Her last ever article
- BBC report of her death
- Lorna Sage Archive, University of East Anglia