Helen Lewis (journalist)

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Helen Lewis
Helen Lewis Open Rights Group November 2017.jpg
Lewis in 2017
Born (1983-09-30) 30 September 1983 (age 38)
Other namesHelen Lewis-Hasteley
EducationSt Mary's School, Worcester
Alma mater
OccupationJournalist, editor

Helen Lewis (born 30 September 1983)[1] is a British journalist and a staff writer at The Atlantic.[2][3] She is a former deputy editor of the New Statesman,[4] and has also written for The Guardian and The Sunday Times.[5]


After graduating, she gained a post-graduate diploma in newspaper journalism from London's City University. Subsequently, she was accepted on the Daily Mail's programme for trainee sub-editors, working in the job for a few years, and later joining the team responsible for commissioning features for the newspaper. At the New Statesman she recruited new bloggers, including Sarah Ditum, Glosswitch and Juliet Jacques, and edited its website.[6] She was appointed the Women in the Humanities Honorary Writing Fellow at Oxford University for 2018/2019, and is now[when?] on the steering committee for the Reuters Institute for Journalism at Oxford University, where she delivered a lecture on "The Failures of Political Journalism,"[7] subsequently adapted as a New Statesman cover story.[8]

For five years from August 2006,[9][10] Lewis ran a networking event, open to all young journalists, called Schmooze and Booze, for which she organised events held in a central London pub every other month.[9] Lewis commented in 2007 that older colleagues, who had worked with each other for quite a long time, all seemed to know each other, while her contemporaries did not.[11]

Lewis was appointed as deputy editor of the New Statesman in May 2012,[12] after becoming assistant editor in 2010.[13] She has written about the harassment of women online and trolling.[14][15] Since July 2019, she has been a staff writer at The Atlantic,[16] where she has written about the Royal Family,[17][18] "social Munchausens",[19] internet culture[20][21] and British politics.[22][23]

In November 2019, April 2020, October 2020 and April 2021 Lewis was a panellist on BBC's Have I Got News for You.[24][25]

Difficult Women[edit]

Lewis's first book Difficult Women: A History of Feminism in 11 Fights, a history of the battles for women's rights, was published by Jonathan Cape on 27 February 2020. In the book Lewis argues that feminism succeeded because of complicated women who clashed with each other while fighting for equal rights, but that too many of these pioneers have been whitewashed or forgotten in a modern search for inspirational heroines. Difficult Women was featured in the New Statesman under "Books to Read in 2020", and in the Observer list of "Non-fiction Books to Look Out for in 2020".[26]


In December 2019, Lewis launched her Radio 4 series, The Spark, a longform interview series with each episode dedicated to a single guest (or, in one case, two co-authors).[27][28] Its fifth series featured Henry Marsh on assisted dying and Karen Stenner on authoritarianism. The Guardian noted that: "As always in this series, Lewis achieved that rare thing for an interviewer: pre-empting precisely the question that you might otherwise have been shouting at the radio".[29] The first four series have been collected by Penguin as an audiobook.[30]

In September 2021, the BBC aired her comedy documentary series Great Wives,[31] described by The Telegraph as "a welcome, even-handed look at the women behind notable geniuses, but also an examination of what makes a marriage work".[32]


In 2012, Lewis coined what she herself referred to as "Lewis's Law": "the comments on any article about feminism justify feminism".[33] In January 2013, Lewis edited a week of articles dedicated to transgender issues at the New Statesman, featuring articles by transgender and non-binary writers including Juliet Jacques, Jane Fae and Sky Yarlett.[34] In the introduction, she wrote: "For anyone interested in equality, it should be obvious that trans people are subject to harassment simply for the way they express their gender identity." While supportive of transgender people's right to freedom from harassment and abuse,[35] in July 2017, Lewis wrote about her concerns that gender self-identification would make rape shelters unsafe for women and would lead to an increase in sexual assaults in women's changing rooms, writing: "In this climate, who would challenge someone with a beard exposing their penis in a women's changing room?"[36][37]

She has defended herself, saying "I've had two tedious years of being abused online as a transphobe and a 'TERF' or 'trans-exclusionary radical feminist'—despite my belief that trans women are women, and trans men are men—because I have expressed concerns about self-ID and its impact on single-sex spaces".[38]

In November 2020, game developer Ubisoft removed two in-game podcasts from Watch Dogs: Legion that featured Lewis.[39][40]

In September 2018, Lewis interviewed Jordan Peterson for GQ,[41][42] in a video which has been viewed more than 40 million times.[43] Lewis later described it, in a review of Peterson's second book, as "easily the most viral moment I’ve ever had".[44]

Personal life[edit]

Lewis was educated at the independent St Mary's School, Worcester[45] and then read English at St Peter's College, Oxford.

Lewis married Guardian journalist Jonathan Haynes in 2015. She was previously married in 2010 and divorced her first husband in 2013.[46]


  1. ^ Lewis, Helen (8 April 2020). "What Happens When a Joke Is Followed by Silence". The Atlantic. Retrieved 28 April 2020. And in November, I got my first stab at its BBC Television equivalent, Have I Got News for You (a relative youngster, having broadcast its first program two days before my seventh birthday).
  2. ^ Mayhew, Freddy (11 February 2020). "Helen Lewis leaving New Statesman for staff writer role at Atlantic". Press Gazette. Retrieved 21 September 2021.
  3. ^ Reid, Melanie (29 March 2019). "Difficult Women by Helen Lewis review — the awkward squad v the patriarchy". Press Gazette. Retrieved 16 July 2020.
  4. ^ "Contact Us" Archived 4 April 2013 at the Wayback Machine, New Statesman website
  5. ^ Helen Lewis Archived 15 February 2017 at the Wayback Machine, contributor page, guardian.co.uk
  6. ^ "By embracing feminism, the New Statesman beat its old rival"
  7. ^ "The Failures of Political Journalism"
  8. ^ "Why Political Journalism Keeps Getting It Wrong"
  9. ^ a b Helen Lewis-Hasteley "The secret of networking? Talking" Archived 20 October 2016 at the Wayback Machine, The Guardian, 10 January 2012
  10. ^ "Schmooze and Booze celebrates first birthday" Archived 3 December 2013 at the Wayback Machine, Press Gazette, 28 August 2007
  11. ^ "Plenty of schmoozing and plenty of boozing" Archived 2 December 2013 at the Wayback Machine, Press Gazette, 13 June 2007
  12. ^ 'Media Monkey' "Media Monkey: Warren Buffett, a BSkyB buffet, and Danny Cohen" Archived 27 September 2016 at the Wayback Machine, guardian.co.uk, 27 May 2013
  13. ^ "New appointments and web expansion" Archived 5 June 2013 at the Wayback Machine, newstatesman.com, 16 May 2012
  14. ^ "John Nimmo and Isabella Sorley: A tale of two "trolls"". www.newstatesman.com. Retrieved 7 May 2019.
  15. ^ "The Joke's On Us"
  16. ^ Mayhew, Freddy (29 March 2019). "Helen Lewis leaving New Statesman for staff writer role at Atlantic". Press Gazette. Retrieved 16 July 2020.
  17. ^ "Meghan and Harry Go To War
  18. ^ "The Majestic Untruths of The Crown"
  19. ^ "The Identity Hoaxers"
  20. ^ "The Mythology of Karen"
  21. ^ "How Capitalism Drives Cancel Culture"
  22. ^ "The Party Whose Success is A Problem"
  23. ^ "Healing The Rift With Britain's Jews"
  24. ^ Have I Got News For You [@haveigotnews] (8 November 2019). "Catch all-new #HIGNFY, hosted by @adilray, with panellists @IvoGraham and @helenlewis. Tonight at 9pm – Only on BBC One" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  25. ^ "Have I Got News for You". entertainment.ie. 8 November 2019.
  26. ^ Cowdrey, Katherine. "Cape to publish 'battle cry for difficult women'". The Bookseller. Retrieved 12 January 2019.
  27. ^ "The Spark"
  28. ^ "The Spark"
  29. ^ "The Week in Audio"
  30. ^ "The Spark: 11 Ideas to Change the World"
  31. ^ "Five Great Wives From History You Need To Know"
  32. ^ "What It's Really Like to Be Married to A Genius"
  33. ^ Lewis, Helen (9 August 2012). "@helenlewis". Twitter. Archived from the original on 3 December 2013. Retrieved 29 March 2013. As I've just told @alicetiara, the comments on any article about feminism justify feminism. That is Lewis's Law.
  34. ^ Lewis, Helen (14 January 2013). "Introducing Trans Issues Week". New Statesman. Retrieved 21 September 2021.
  35. ^ Lewis, Helen. "From immigration to gender, the left is avoiding the hard work of persuasion". New Statesman. Retrieved 21 September 2021.
  36. ^ Jackman, Josh (25 July 2017). "Left-wing magazine boss says gender reforms will lead to bearded men exposing their penises to women". PinkNews. Retrieved 7 May 2019.
  37. ^ Duffy, Nick (26 July 2017). "What will actually happen if the UK adopts a 'self-declaration' gender recognition law?". PinkNews. Retrieved 7 May 2019.
  38. ^ Lewis, Helen (3 January 2019). "Maria Miller Called Me A Fake Feminist". Jezebel. Retrieved 9 October 2019.
  39. ^ Morton, Lauren (2 November 2020). "Watch Dogs Legion used real political podcasters to deliver in-game talk radio". Rock, Paper, Shotgun. Retrieved 7 November 2020.
  40. ^ Chalk, Andy (6 November 2020). "Ubisoft is removing a 'controversial' UK journalist from Watch Dogs: Legion". PC Gamer. Retrieved 7 November 2020.
  41. ^ Lewis, Helen. "'There was plenty of motivation to take me out'". GQ. Retrieved 21 September 2021.
  42. ^ Young, Toby. "At last, a Jordan Peterson vs. feminist debate that isn't an absolute bloodbath'". The Spectator. Retrieved 21 September 2021.
  43. ^ "There plenty of motivation to take me out". youtube.com. 30 October 2018.
  44. ^ Lewis, Helen. "'What Happened to Jordan Peterson?'". The Atlantic. Retrieved 21 September 2021.
  45. ^ "St Marys Worcester – Home". stmarys.org.uk.
  46. ^ Lewis, Helen. "Things You Only Know If You're Divorced Before 30".

External links[edit]