Helen Elaine Lee was educated at Harvard College and Harvard Law School. Her first novel, The Serpent's Gift, was published by Atheneum in 1994 and her second novel, Water Marked, was published by Scribner in 1999. She finished Life Without, a novel about the lives of ten people who are incarcerated in two neighboring U.S. prisons, and The Hard Loss, a novel about a DNA exoneree's first week of freedom after twenty four years of incarceration for a crime he did not commit. Stories from Life Without have appeared in Callaloo, Prairie Schooner, Hanging Loose, Best African American Fiction 2009 (Bantam Books), and solsticelitmag.org.
Helen is a member of the Board of Directors of PEN New England, and she serves on its Freedom to Write Committee and volunteers with its Prison Creative Writing Program. She has written about the experience of teaching creative writing in prison in a New York Times Book Review essay, “Visible Men”.