After graduating in English Language and Literature from London University in 1964, Leslie Webster joined the British Museum as an Assistant Keeper in the then Department of British and Medieval Antiquities, curating the Anglo-Saxon, Viking and Celtic and Continental early medieval collections. She became a Deputy Keeper in 1984, and Keeper (Head of Department) in 2002. Since 2002, she has also been an Honorary Visiting Professor at the Institute of Archaeology, UCL.
During her career, Leslie has co-curated four major exhibitions on early medieval themes at the British Museum, and was also invited to commission and co-ordinate a series of five thematically linked exhibitions in five major European museums as part of the European Science Foundation’s Transformation of the Roman World AD 400-900 Project, during 1994-1998. The book of the series, co-edited with Michelle Brown, was published by the British Museum in 1997. Since retirement in 2007, she has curated a further exhibition at the National Trust Exhibition and Visitor Centre at Sutton Hoo, Suffolk. She has published and lectured extensively on Anglo-Saxon art and archaeology, on which she is an internationally acknowledged authority. Her latest book, published in 2012, is Anglo-Saxon Art: a new History.
Leslie has served as a Trustee and in an advisory capacity on many academic and specialist bodies, including the Society of Antiquaries of London, of which she is currently a Trustee, and the Society for Medieval Archaeology, where she was President from 2007-10. Other advisory work has included serving on the Bede’s World Museological and Academic Advisory Committee, the English Heritage Museums and Archives Advisory Panel, and the Portable Antiquities Advisory Group; she is currently the Chair of the Staffordshire Hoard Research Advisory Panel, which has been set up to oversee the research and publication of this major Anglo-Saxon find.