The following biography is based in part upon her obituary at Yale University (13 July 2015).
Linda H. Peterson, the Niel Gray Jr. Professor of English, died on June 25, 2015 after a long battle with cancer. She was 66 years old. Peterson earned a B.A. in literature at Wheaton College, a M.A. in English at the University of Rhode Island, and a Ph.D. in English at Brown University, where she worked with George P. Landow. She joined the Yale faculty in 1977 and rose through the ranks, becoming the Niel Gray Jr. Professor in 2002. She served on several department and university committees, and continued to do so through this last year.
She received Morse and Mellon fellowships from Yale, and a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities. She is a life fellow of Clare Hall at Cambridge University. Quinnipiac University awarded her an honorary degree in 2004. A past president of the National Council of Writing Program Administrators, she was also a member of the Modern Language Association and the National Council of Teachers of English.
A member of the Yale faculty for 38 years, Peterson was a scholar of Victorian prose and an authority on life-writing — women's writing in particular. Her books include Victorian Autobiography: The Tradition of Self-Interpretation (Yale University Press, 1986; complete text on the Victorian Web), Traditions of Victorian Women’s Autobiography: The Poetics and Politics of Life Writing (University of Virginia Press, 1999) and Becoming a Woman of Letters: Myths of Authorship, Facts of the Victorian Market. (Princeton University Press, 2009). Despite her illness, she recently completed her work as editor of the Cambridge Companion to Victorian Women’s Writing. She also edited The Life of Charlotte Brontë by Elizabeth Gaskell (2006), Harriet Martineau’s Autobiography (2007), and The Autobiography and Letters of Margaret Oliphant (2012).
A former chair of the English department, Peterson was a mentor to many young faculty and played a key role in strengthening the Ph.D. program. With her husband, Fred Strebeigh, senior lecturer in the English department and at the School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, Peterson guided the development of the curriculum in creative writing and journalism. She was co-director of the Bass Writing Program in Yale College 1979–1989 and 1990–2004.
Her interest in non-fiction led to her work as general editor of “The Norton Reader,” a staple text for instructors of writing in the United States and beyond. She oversaw five editions of The Norton Reader from 1996 through the current edition.
Last modified 16 May 2016