Helen Elaine Lee

Photos by Allegra Boverman, MIT-SHASS Communications

Quick Links

Biography

Helen Elaine Lee’s first novel, The Serpent's Gift, was published by Atheneum and her second novel, Water Marked, was published by Scribner. She recently finished "The Unlocked Room," a novel about the lives of a group of people incarcerated in two neighboring U.S. prisons, and "The Hard Loss," a novel about a DNA exoneree’s first week of freedom after 24 years of incarceration for a crime he did not commit. Stories from "The Unlocked Room" have appeared in Prairie Schooner, Callaloo, Hanging Loose, Best African American Fiction 2009 (Bantam Books), and www.solsticelitmag.com.

She was educated at Harvard College and Harvard Law School. She is Director of the Program in Women's & Gender Studies and Professor of Fiction Writing in Comparative Media Studies/​Writing at MIT. Associate Chair of the Board of Directors of PEN New England, she serves on its Freedom to Write Committee and teaches in its Prison Creative Writing Program, which she helped to establish.

Selected Works

Novel
"To read The Serpent's Gift is to experience rebirth."
--Walter Mosley
"An ambitious saga, written with the skill of someone born to the art of storytelling."
--Paule Marshall
"A novel of great ambition and achievement. . . about the power and the pain of memory, about the stumbling, staccato rhythms of family, about finding a way to go home again."
--Valerie Boyd, The Washington Post
Short Story
This story (quick link on the left) is part of the novel, "Life Without," about the lives of 10 characters who are incarcerated in two neighboring prisons, serving various sentences for a range of offenses.