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“Writing for a Much Wider Audience”: An Interview with Leo Damrosch

Interviewee: Leo Damrosch (1941 - ) was educated at Yale (BA summa cum laude, 1963), Trinity College, Cambridge (Marshall Scholar, first class honors, 1966), and Princeton (PhD, 1968), he taught in the English Departments at the University of Virginia (1966-83), University of Maryland at College Park (1983-89), and since 1989 at Harvard University where he is now Ernest Bernbaum Professor Emeritus of Literature. In addition to numerous academic publications, his most recent books are Jean-Jacques Rousseau: Restless Genius (Houghton Mifflin, 2005), a finalist for the National Book Award in nonfiction and winner of the PEN New England award for nonfiction; Tocqueville’s Discovery of America (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2010); Jonathan Swift: His Life and His World (Yale University Press, 2013), winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award in biography, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in biography, and also for the Kirkus Prize in nonfction; and Eternity’s Sunrise: The Imaginative World of William Blake (Yale University Press, 2015) a finalist in criticism for the National Book Critics Circle Award, and also for the Christian Gauss Book Award. He has four sons, and lives in Newton, Massachusetts with his wife, Joyce Van Dyke, and their youngest son, Nicholas.