Ernest Bernbaum Professor of Literature, Emeritus, Harvard University

Leo Damrosch is an emeritus professor 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 Tocqueville's Discovery of America , released in paperback in April 2011. He is also author of the biography Jean-Jacques Rousseau: Restless Genius, 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 Baños 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, and the two youngest, Luke and Nicholas.


  • PhD, Princeton University

Extension School courses