Laurie Penny

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Laurie Penny
Penny in 2016
Penny in 2016
BornLaura Barnett
(1986-09-28) 28 September 1986 (age 33)
London, England
OccupationColumnist, blogger, author
Alma materWadham College, Oxford

Laurie Penny (born 28 September 1986) is an English journalist, columnist and author. She has contributed articles to publications including The Guardian, Time Magazine, Buzzfeed, The New York Times, Vice, Salon, The Nation, The New Inquiry, Wired, and Medium, is a contributing editor at the New Statesman, and has written a number of books on feminism.

Early life and education[edit]

Penny was born in London, the daughter of Ray Barnett, a lawyer.[1] She is of Irish, Jewish, and Maltese descent,[2][3][4] and has described herself as an "atheist child of a lapsed Jew and a lapsed Catholic".[5] She grew up in Brighton[6][7] and Lewes,[8] attending the independent school Brighton College with a scholarship.[6][9] As a teenager she suffered from anorexia and was hospitalised at age 17, subsequently making a recovery.[10]

Following secondary school she studied English at Wadham College, Oxford, graduating in 2008 with a 2:1.[11] Whilst a student, she performed amateur drama in the Oxford University Light Entertainment Society, of which she was a committee member, and she was a burlesque.[12][13] She then completed her NCTJ journalism training certificate in London.[14]



Penny's blog "Penny Red" was launched in 2007[15] and was shortlisted for the Orwell Prize for blogging in 2010.[16] 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,[17] and is a columnist and contributing editor for the New Statesman[18] and regular contributor to The Guardian.[19]

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[20] and BBC Two's Newsnight.

On 26 March 2012, Penny announced via her Twitter account that she was leaving the New Statesman to take up a full-time post at The Independent newspaper as a reporter and columnist.[21] 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.[22]

In 2012, Tatler magazine described her as one of top 100 'people who matter'.[23] 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",[24] and the knowledge networking company Editorial Intelligence gave her its "Twitter Public Personality" award.[25] In April 2014, she was announced as an International Nieman Fellow at Harvard University in the United States.[26]

In January 2014, Penny wrote an article for the New Statesman arguing that short hair on women was a "political statement" which "the patriarchy fears".[27] Her comments led to her being attacked by on social media for "dismissing" women with long hair, which resulted in Penny suffering from a panic attack.[27]

In May 2015, Penny courted controversy by claiming that she did not "have a problem" with a war memorial being vandalised with graffiti stating: "Fuck Tory scum".[28] In the face of criticism, she responded: "No, what's disgusting is that some people are more worried about a war memorial than the destruction of the welfare state".[28]

In June 2015, she was banned from social media site Facebook for using a pseudonymous alias.[29] In August 2015, she endorsed Jeremy Corbyn's campaign in the Labour Party leadership election.[30]


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).[7] In Meat Market she criticises liberal feminism as embracing the consumer choice offered by capitalism as the path to female emancipation.[31] Penny Red was shortlisted for the first Bread and Roses Award for Radical Publishing in 2012 after the publication of Discordia: Six Nights in Crisis Athens (Random House, 2012).

Her 2013 work Cybersexism: Sex, Gender and Power on the Internet (Bloomsbury, 2013) contemplates online harassment and its motivations.[32] Unspeakable Things: Sex, Lies and Revolution was published in July 2014. Shortly afterwards, Penny stated she had been subjected to "a stream of vile sexist and anti-Semitic abuse" following the book's publication.[33] Everything Belongs to the Future (St. Martins Press-3PL, 2016) followed in 2016.

Her seventh book, Bitch Doctrine: Essays for Dissenting Adults, (Bloomsbury Publishing, 2017) was longlisted for the 2018 Orwell Prize.[34]




  1. ^ "Laurie Penny on the politics of the personal (From Herald Scotland)". Retrieved 5 November 2015.
  2. ^ Penny, Laurie (12 September 2010). "Zionism, chauvinism and the nature of rape". New Statesman. Retrieved 16 May 2013.
  3. ^ Penny, Laurie (13 February 2011). "Julie Burchill's imperialist froth over Israel". New Statesman. Retrieved 16 May 2013.
  4. ^ Penny, Laurie (19 June 2013). "Twitter".
  5. ^ "DON'T BE A DICK: ON ATHEISM, CRUELTY AND KINDNESS". Retrieved 30 June 2016.
  6. ^ 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.
  7. ^ a b "Laurie Penny author profile at Zero Books". Zero books. Retrieved 13 April 2011.
  8. ^ "So they burned Alex Salmond in my hometown". New Statesman. London. 6 November 2014. Retrieved 5 January 2015.
  9. ^ "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.
  10. ^ "Life tastes better than skinny feels". London Evening Standard – Laurie Penny. 24 February 2010. Archived from the original on 3 March 2011. Retrieved 13 April 2011.
  11. ^ 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.
  12. ^ "Burlesque laid bare". London: Laurie Penny – via The Guardian. 15 May 2009. Retrieved 16 April 2011.
  13. ^ "Previous committees – 2006 social secretary (Wadham)". Oxford Light entertainment society. Retrieved 16 April 2011.
  14. ^ "Penny for your privilege?". Laurie Penny – via Penny Red blogspot. 21 February 2010. Retrieved 24 May 2014.
  15. ^ "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.
  16. ^ "Laurie Penny – Student Media Awards judge". The Guardian. London. 11 March 2011. Retrieved 13 April 2011.
  17. ^ "Home page on "Penny Red"". Laurie Penny – via Penny Red blogspot. Retrieved 13 April 2011.
  18. ^ "Pop culture and radical politics with a feminist twist". Laurie Penny blog at the New Statesman online. Retrieved 13 April 2011.
  19. ^ "Laurie Penny profile at The Guardian online". The Guardian. London. 7 August 2009. Retrieved 13 April 2011.
  20. ^ "10 O'Clock Live Episode 11 guest listing at Channel 4 online". Channel 4. 31 March 2011. Retrieved 13 April 2011.
  21. ^ Penny, Laurie "Laurie Penny (@PennyRed)", twitlonger, 26 March 2012.
  22. ^ "Laurie Penny rejoins the New Statesman", New Statesman (The Staggers blog), 10 October 2012.
  23. ^ "Laurie Penny". Tatler. Retrieved 5 November 2015.
  24. ^ "Top 100 most influential figures from the Left 2012". The Daily Telegraph. 3 October 2012. Retrieved 9 October 2012.
  25. ^ Penny, Laurie (19 October 2012). "Laurie Penny wins Editorial Intelligence "Twitter Public Personality" award". New Statesman. Retrieved 23 June 2019.
  26. ^ Nieman Foundation announces the 77th class of Nieman Fellows, Harvard University, 30 April 2014. Retrieved 22 August 2014.
  27. ^ a b "Sorry Laurie Penny, but the patriarchy likes short hair | Coffee House". Retrieved 12 January 2020.
  28. ^ a b "Laurie Penny defends war memorial vandalism at anti-Tory march | Coffee House". 9 May 2015. Retrieved 12 January 2020.
  29. ^ Nadia Khomami (24 June 2015). "Journalist Laurie Penny banned from Facebook for using pseudonym | Technology". The Guardian. Retrieved 12 January 2020.
  30. ^ "Jeremy Corbyn: can he take Labour forward?". Channel 4 News. 18 August 2015. Retrieved 15 July 2017 – via YouTube.
  31. ^ "Chocolate, Snuggles, and Straight Hair, review of Meat Market". Oxonian Review. Retrieved 4 June 2011.
  32. ^ "Online Harassment, What Drives it and How it Lowers Visions". The Conference / Media Evolution. 21 August 2013. Retrieved 21 April 2019.
  33. ^ 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.
  34. ^ Onwuemezi, Natasha (10 April 2018). "The Bookseller". The Bookseller.
  35. ^ "Laurie Penny". The Orwell Prize. Retrieved 30 April 2019.
  36. ^ Flood, Alison (6 March 2012). "New prize for radical writing announces shortlist". Retrieved 2 May 2012.
  37. ^ "Laurie Penny shortlisted for the Red Women of the Year awards 2014". Blake Friedmann. Retrieved 30 April 2019.
  38. ^ "Nieman announces named fellowships for the class of 2015". Nieman Reports. Retrieved 13 June 2019.
  39. ^ "Berkman Center Announces 2015-2016 Community". Berkman Klein Center. 19 October 2015. Retrieved 13 June 2019.
  40. ^ "2017 Hugo Awards". The Hugo Awards. 31 December 2016. Retrieved 30 April 2019.
  41. ^ "Winners and Finalists Database". American Society of Magazine Editors. 2018. Retrieved 23 June 2019.

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