Laurie Penny

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Laurie Penny
Laurie Penny 2013 (8735769116).jpg
Penny in 2013.
Born Laura Barnett
(1986-09-28) 28 September 1986 (age 29)
Westminster, London, England, United Kingdom
Occupation Columnist, blogger, author
Nationality British

Laurie Penny (born 28 September 1986) is an English columnist, author and feminist. She has contributed articles to publications such as The Guardian and the New Statesman, and has written two books on the subject of feminism.

Early life and education[edit]

Penny was born in London,, the daughter of the late lawyer Ray Barnett.[1] She grew up in Brighton[2][3] and Lewes.[4] She is of Irish, Jewish, and Maltese descent.[5][6][7] Penny attended the independent school Brighton College on a scholarship.[2][8] She has written about her hospitalisation at age 17 for anorexia and subsequent recovery.[9]

Penny studied English at Wadham College, Oxford, graduating in 2008 with a 2:1.[10] Whilst a student, she joined and performed in a burlesque troupe, and appeared in amateur dramatic productions with the Oxford University Light Entertainment Society, of which she was a committee member.[11][12] She then completed her NCTJ journalism training certificate in London.[13]


Penny's blog, "Penny Red", was launched in 2007[14] and was shortlisted for the Orwell Prize in 2010.[15] She began her career as a staff writer at One in Four magazine and then worked as a reporter and sub-editor for the socialist newspaper Morning Star. She has written columns and features for several publications,[16] and is a columnist for the New Statesman[17] and regular contributor to The Guardian.[18]

In April 2011, Penny presented the Channel 4 Dispatches programme "Cashing In on Degrees", and appeared on the same channel's satirical current affairs programme 10 O'Clock Live[19] and BBC Two's Newsnight.

On 26 March 2012, Penny announced via her Twitter account that she was leaving the Statesman to take up a full-time post at The Independent newspaper as a reporter and columnist.[20] In October 2012, it was announced that she was leaving The Independent to rejoin the New Statesman (in November) as a columnist and contributing editor.[21]

In June 2012, she clashed with historian David Starkey at the Sunday Times Festival of Education which took place at Wellington College, accusing him of being a racist "playing xenophobia for laughs" in his statements about the Rochdale sex abuse case.[22] Later at the same event she asked Starkey whether he owned a house in America and where he was based for tax purposes; David Starkey, after saying he was domiciled in the UK and paid his taxes in full, then responded by accusing Penny of wanting excessive fees for an event arranged by The Thomas Paine Society which led to it not taking place. Penny, after initially denying that she asked for a large fee, eventually stated that she had asked for the fee as a way to back out of the event, and avoid having to debate with Starkey.[22]

Penny tweeted "I don't have a problem with this", regarding graffiti on the Monument to the Women of World War II in London on VE Day after the Conservatives won the 2015 general election,[23] and that the real vandals of the memory of the women of WWII and what they fought for were currently in 10 Downing Street.[24][25]

Penny is the author of Meat Market: Female Flesh Under Capitalism (Zero Books, 2011) and Penny Red: Notes from a New Age of Dissent (Pluto Press, 2011).[3] In Meat Market she mounts an attack on liberal feminism, which she characterises as embracing the consumer choice offered by capitalism as the path to female emancipation.[26] Penny Red was shortlisted for the inaugural Bread and Roses Award for Radical Publishing in 2012. Unspeakable Things: Sex, Lies and Revolution was published in July 2014. In the book, Penny reveals she has had sexual relationships with both men and women in the past.[27] Shortly afterwards, Penny stated she was subject to "a stream of vile sexist and anti-Semitic abuse" following the book's publication.[28]

Penny was selected by Truthdig as "Truthdigger of the Week" for the week of 25 November 2011.[29] In 2012, Tatler magazine described her as one of top 100 'people who matter'.[30] In October 2012, The Daily Telegraph ranked Penny as the 55th most influential left-winger in Britain, reporting that she is "without doubt the loudest and most controversial female voice on the radical left."[31] In April 2014, Penny was announced as an International Nieman Fellow at Harvard.[32]




  1. ^ "Laurie Penny on the politics of the personal (From Herald Scotland)". Retrieved 2015-11-05. 
  2. ^ a b "Shut up, little girl, don't you know grown-ups are talking?". Laurie Penny – via Penny Red blogspot. 16 November 2009. Retrieved 13 April 2011. 
  3. ^ a b "Laurie Penny author profile at Zero Books". Zero books. Retrieved 13 April 2011. 
  4. ^ "So they burned Alex Salmond in my hometown". New Statesman (London). 6 November 2014. Retrieved 5 January 2015. 
  5. ^ Penny, Laurie (12 September 2010). "Zionism, chauvinism and the nature of rape". New Statesman. Retrieved 16 May 2013. 
  6. ^ Penny, Laurie (13 February 2011). "Julie Burchill’s imperialist froth over Israel". New Statesman. Retrieved 16 May 2013. 
  7. ^ Penny, Laurie (19 June 2013). "Twitter". 
  8. ^ "Laurie Penny: Yes, Mr Gove, I enjoyed an expensive education, but I'm still not on your team". The Independent. 11 May 2012. Retrieved 8 January 2015. 
  9. ^ "Life tastes better than skinny feels". London Evening Standard – Laurie Penny. 24 February 2010. Retrieved 13 April 2011. 
  10. ^ Conn, David (30 April 2010). "The jobless are no shirking scroungers - you try living on £65.45 a week". The Guardian. Retrieved 4 July 2013. 
  11. ^ "Burlesque laid bare". London: Laurie Penny – via The Guardian. 15 May 2009. Retrieved 16 April 2011. 
  12. ^ "Previous committees – 2006 social secretary (Wadham)". Oxford Light entertainment society. Retrieved 16 April 2011. 
  13. ^ "Penny for your privilege?". Laurie Penny – via Penny Red blogspot. 21 February 2010. Retrieved 24 May 2014. 
  14. ^ "We have achieved preambulation. Bring me a sweetie-bag of amphetamines and the head of Margaret Thatcher.". Laurie Penny – via Penny Red blogspot. 23 September 2007. Retrieved 13 April 2011. 
  15. ^ "Laurie Penny – Student Media Awards judge". The Guardian (London). 11 March 2011. Retrieved 13 April 2011. 
  16. ^ "Home page on "Penny Red"". Laurie Penny – via Penny Red blogspot. Retrieved 13 April 2011. 
  17. ^ "Pop culture and radical politics with a feminist twist". Laurie Penny blog at the New Statesman online. Retrieved 13 April 2011. 
  18. ^ "Laurie Penny profile at The Guardian online". The Guardian (London). 7 August 2009. Retrieved 13 April 2011. 
  19. ^ "10 O'Clock Live Episode 11 guest listing at Channel 4 online". Channel 4. 31 March 2011. Retrieved 13 April 2011. 
  20. ^ Penny, Laurie "Laurie Penny (@PennyRed)", twitlonger, 26 March 2012.
  21. ^ "Laurie Penny rejoins the New Statesman", New Statesman (The Staggers blog), 10 October 2012.
  22. ^ a b "Videos show Laurie Penny and 'dinosaur' Starkey in full rant", The Week, 25 June 2012
  23. ^ Battersby, Matilda (10 May 2015). "Katie Hopkins trounces Laurie Penny in battle of offensiveness over anti-Tory graffiti, suggests she should be ‘made a woman of Isis’". The Independent. Retrieved 10 May 2015. 
  24. ^ "Comments on anti-Conservative vandalism of WWII monument.". Laurie Penny on Twitter. 9 May 2015. Retrieved 10 May 2015. 
  25. ^ "Comments on anti-Conservative vandalism of WWII monument.". Laurie Penny on Twitter. 9 May 2015. Retrieved 10 May 2015. 
  26. ^ "Chocolate, Snuggles, and Straight Hair, review of Meat Market". Oxonian Review. Retrieved 4 June 2011. 
  27. ^ Daisy Wyatt (2014-06-26). "Unspeakable Things: Sex, Lies and Revolution by Laurie Penny, book review | Reviews | Culture". The Independent. Retrieved 2015-11-05. 
  28. ^ Unspeakable Things: Feminist author Laurie Penny subjected to 'vile sexist and anti-Semitic abuse' over her book The Independent, 21 July 2014.Retrieved 21 July 2014.
  29. ^ Truthdigger of the Week: Laurie Penny – Truthdigger of the Week – Truthdig
  30. ^ "Laurie Penny". Tatler. Retrieved 2015-11-05. 
  31. ^ "Top 100 most influential figures from the Left 2012". The Daily Telegraph. 3 October 2012. Retrieved 9 October 2012. 
  32. ^ Nieman Foundation announces the 77th class of Nieman Fellows Harvard, 30 April 2014. Retrieved 22 August 2014.
  33. ^ Flood, Alison (6 March 2012). "New prize for radical writing announces shortlist". Retrieved 2 May 2012. 

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