Hilary Anne Hallett

Interests and Research

Hilary Hallett is a historian of modern American cultural and social history.  Her areas of specialization include women and gender history; histories of popular and mass culture in transatlantic perspective; and histories of American culture industries, particularly theater, music, film, and Hollywood's history. She is interested in mass media’s relationship to social change, and to the big stories they tell about America and Americans over time.  She has worked as an historical consultant for both documentaries and narrative features and television, including most recently a forthcoming mini-series about actress, Hedy Lamarr. 

Go West, Young Women: The Rise of Early Hollywood (2013)  https://www.ucpress.edu/book/9780520274099/go-west-young-women explores how early Hollywood became a symbol of the new professional opportunities and sexual freedoms seized by some young women in the early decades of the twentieth century.

Her second book, Inventing the It Girl: Life & Times of Elinor Glyn is due out with Liveright-Norton (June 2022). This unconventional biography explores the influence of the British socialite, founder of the modern 'sex novel' (and author of more than 30 books), and early Hollywood's resident philosopher of love on mass culture. 


Ph.D. — CUNY Graduate Center, 2005
B.F.A. — Tisch School of the Arts, NYU


  • Fellow, Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers, New York Public Library, 2016-17 
  • Jensen-Miller Prize, for “Based on a True Story,” Western History Association, 2012 
  • Historical Society of Southern California/ Haynes Foundation Fellowship, 2007 
  • Fellow, Center for the Analysis of Culture, Rutgers University, 2004-2005
  • E. P. Thompson Dissertation Fellowship, CUNY Graduate Center, 2002-2003


  • Organization of American Historians
  • Society of Cinema and Media Studies
  • Women & the Silent Screen



Go West, Young Women! The Rise of Early Hollywood  (University of California Press, 2013).

Inventing the It Girl: Life & Times of Elinor Glyn (Liveright-Norton, June 2022).


“A Mother to the Modern Girl: Elinor Glyn and Three Weeks,” Journal of Women’s History (Aug. 2018).

“Based on a True Story: New Western Women and the Birth of Hollywood,” Pacific Historical Review (May 2012): 177 – 210.

“Women’s Migration, Early Hollywood, and the Making of Los Angeles,” in Actes de  l’histoire de l’immigration, Image et representations du genre en migration, Numero special, vol. 7 (2007): 91 – 104.