Hadley Freeman has been a columnist and features writer at The Guardian since 2000. Her perennial column, Ask Hadley imparts advice on all things style and fashion to readers’ questions. In 2008, she published her first book The Meaning of Sunglasses: A Guide to (Almost) All Things Fashionable followed by Be Awesome: Modern Life for Modern Ladies in 2013, described as a ‘series of witty polemic’s on women’s place in society’ by The Observer. She was on the judging panel for the Idler Academy’s Bad Grammar Awards 2014 along with Rowley Leigh and Jeremy Paxman. She has also made guest appearances on Woman’s Hour on Radio 4.
Hadley read English Literature at St Anne’s College, Oxford and the Q&A below gives us a glimpse into her student days. From what she did to unwind at University to the books that have stayed with her, learn more about the defining years of a familiar voice at The Guardian.
What was your best memory at university? Probably finishing Finals and realising I’d never have to revise for an exam ever again. I celebrated by spending the next three years of my life reading nothing but Jilly Cooper.
Which book that you read during university had a lasting impact on you and why? Probably Mrs Dalloway and The Waves by Virginia Woolf. I still think about those books at least once a week and read them half a lifetime ago by now.
What did you do to get through the stress of any rough patches? Go to the cinema. I feel like I spent most of my time at university going to the little arts cinema in north Oxford. I went so much they eventually made me the film reviewer for the student paper, which then, unfortunately, added an element of stress to my method of de-stressing as I then had to write reviews of the damn films.
You’ve said in an interview, you tried to ‘obsessively’ memorise Sir Gawain while at university, why?
Because I had to in order to pass my Finals! I wish I could give you a deeper, more soulful answer than that, but that’s it.
Finally, what lesson did you learn at university that you still carry with you today?
Never be ashamed of using York Notes.