Harriet Ritvo teaches courses in British history, environmental history, the history of human-animal relations, and the history of natural history. She is the author of The Dawn of Green: Manchester, Thirlmere, and Modern Environmentalism (Chicago UP, 2009), The Platypus and the Mermaid, and Other Figments of the Classifying Imagination (Harvard UP, 1997), The Animal Estate: The English and Other Creatures in the Victorian Age (Harvard UP, 1987), and Noble Cows and Hybrid Zebras: Essays on Animals and History (Virginia, 2010); she is also the co-editor of Macropolitics of Nineteenth-Century Literature: Nationalism, Imperialism, Exoticism (University of Pennsylvania Press, 1991) and the editor of Charles Darwin's The Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998). Her articles and reviews on British cultural history, environmental history, and the history of human-animal relations have appeared in a wide range of periodicals, including 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. Her current research concerns wildness and domestication.
She serves on the Board of Incorporators of Harvard Magazine; on the editorial boards of Victorian Studies, Victorian Literature and Culture, Agricultural History Review, and Animals and Society, and as editor of the "Animals, History, Culture" series published by the Johns Hopkins University Press and co-editor of the series "Flow, Migrations, and Exchanges" published by the University of North Carolina Press. She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and past President of the American Society for Environmental History. Her research has been supported by fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Humanities Center, and the Stanford Humanities Center. She has received a Whiting Writers Award and a Graduate Society Award from the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study.
She has been a Visiting Fellow at Clare Hall (Cambridge University, UK) and Balliol College (Oxford University, UK). She was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts and received her A.B. and Ph.D. from Harvard; she also studied at Girton College (Cambridge University).