Harriet Ritvo

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Harriet Ritvo
Harriet Ritvo delivering a talk at Yale.jpg
Ritvo delivering a talk at Yale University
OccupationHistorian, author
Academic background
Alma materHarvard University(A.B)(Ph.D.)
Academic work
Main interestsBritish cultural history
Environmental history
History of natural history

Harriet Ritvo (born 1946) is an American historian who specializes in British history, particularly environmental history and the history of natural history. Ritvo is the Arthur J. Connor Professor of History at MIT and a member of the Program in Science, Technology and Society, and she was the head of MIT's History Faculty from 1999-2006.[1]


Early life[edit]

Harriet Ritvo was born in 1946 in Cambridge, Massachusetts and received her A.B. and Ph.D. from Harvard University. She also studied at Girton College at Cambridge University.


She has been a Visiting Fellow at Clare Hall at Cambridge University, as well as at Balliol College at Oxford University. Since 2016, Ritvo has served as a trustee of the National Humanities Center in Research Triangle Park, NC.


Ritvo has published books on the history of British scientific classification of animals and of the roles of animals in Victorian culture.[2]

Ritvo is the author of the following books:

  • The Animal Estate: The English and Other Creatures in the Victorian Age (Harvard UP, 1987)
  • The Platypus and the Mermaid, and Other Figments of the Classifying Imagination (Harvard UP, 1997)
  • The Dawn of Green: Manchester, Thirlmere, and Modern Environmentalism (Chicago UP, 2009)
  • Noble Cows and Hybrid Zebras: Essays on Animals and History (Virginia, 2010)

Ritvo was the editor of:

  • Charles Darwin's The Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998)

Ritvo was a co-editor of:

  • Macropolitics of Nineteenth-Century Literature: Nationalism, Imperialism, Exoticism (University of Pennsylvania Press, 1991)


Ritvo has written articles and reviews on British cultural history and environmental history in such periodicals as The London Review of Books, Science, Daedalus, The American Scholar, Technology Review, and The New York Review of Books, as well as scholarly journals in several fields.


Ritvo received a Whiting Award in 1990 following her first book, The Animal Estate: The English and Other Creatures in the Victorian Age (1987).


  1. ^ MIT History Department Faculty biography: Harriet Ritvo http://web.mit.edu/hnritvo/www/ritvo.htm
  2. ^ Ritvo Receives Prestigious Award, TechTalk, November 7, 1990, MIT News Office (accessed March 28, 2007)

External links[edit]