Leo Damrosch

Ernest Bernbaum Professor of Literature, Emeritus, Harvard University.

Leo Damrosch is a professor of literature emeritus at Harvard University.

Damrosch received his undergraduate degree from Yale, his PhD from Princeton, and was a Marshall Scholar at Trinity College at the University of Cambridge. Before coming to Harvard, he taught in the English departments of the University of Virginia and the University of Maryland at College Park. He has been at Harvard since 1989.

Damrosch's most recent book is Jonathan Swift: His Life and His World (Yale University Press, 2013), which won the 2013 National Book Critics Circle Award for biography, and was one of two finalists for the Pulitzer Prize in biography. He is also author of Tocqueville's Discovery of America (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2010) and Jean-Jacques Rousseau: Restless Genius (Houghton Mifflin, 2005), a 2005 National Book Award finalist for nonfiction and winner of the Winship/PEN New England Award for nonfiction, as well as seven other books on literary and historical subjects.

Damrosch spent his boyhood in the mountains of the Philippines. He was born in 1941 in Manila where his parents were Episcopalian missionaries. Three months later the war arrived and the family was interned with 1,500 other foreigners in the Los BaƱos prison camp in Luzon. In 1945 they were liberated by a dramatic airborne operation. After the family's return to the United States in 1950, they lived in various towns in Maine.

He has four sons, and lives in Newton, Massachusetts with his wife, Joyce Van Dyke, who also teaches in the Harvard Extension School, and their youngest sons, Luke and Nicholas.


  • PhD Princeton University