She trained at LAMDA - the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art.
She was educated at Cranborne Chase, Wiltshire, a boarding school for girls in the west of England, then turned down the offer of a place at Oxford.
Harriet's ancestor John Walter was the founder of the London newspaper The Times. He began the paper in 1785 as The Daily Universal Register, but changed its name to The Times in 1788. John Walter was also the editor from 1785 to 1803, and he was followed by his son and grandson, both also called John Walter.
For many years, Harriet was the partner of the late Peter Blythe, an English actor who played with her in several productions. Both of them were members of the Cannon's Mouth theatre company. He died of lung cancer in 2004.
Since 1980, she has played many parts in stage productions of the Royal Shakespeare Company, including Cleopatra in Antony and Cleopatra, Lady Macbeth in Macbeth, Helena in All's Well That Ends Well, and Imogen in Cymbeline.
Harriet has published her autobiography, called Other People's Shoes (Nick Hearn Books, London, 2003).
Harriet is now an associate artist with Sir Peter Hall's Cannon's Mouth classical theatre company.
Harriet Walter: The architecture can't keep up with the changing style of acting.
Harriet Walter: What is acceptable as naturalistic has been so modified by television that it becomes harder and harder to yell and be covered in blood.
Harriet Walter: (on playing Cleopatra) She is fantastically sensual, so that'll be a bit of a journey after playing the Virgin Queen.
Harriet Walter: Awards don't alter things in the sense that you can go out on stage and think, right, I'm terribly good, I don't have to work any more. But they do make you feel you have been appreciated in some way. That's useful on a cold, wet Wednesday when you are feeling crummy.