EDITH HAMILTON, born. Classicist, Mythology. (d:, 1963) There is, arguably, no more important figure in the study of mythology than Edith Hamilton. A classicist and educator before she became a writer on mythology, her most famous books are The Greek Way (1930) and Mythology (1942). Mythology remains in print after six decades and is still used as an introductory text to mythology in high schools and colleges; a mark of its status is that study guides to the book exist.
Edith Hamilton was born in Dresden, Germany and grew up with her parents in Fort Wayne, Indiana. When she was seven, her father began to teach her Latin and added French, German. And Greek to her curriculum. Her education continued at Miss Porter’s School in Farmington, Connecticut and Bryn Mawr College (M.A. 1894). In the following year, Edith and her sister Alice became the first female students accepted at the German universities of Leipzig and Munich.
Upon her return to the United States in 1896, Edith Hamilton became the headmistress of Bryn Mawr School for Girls in Baltimore, MD, to which she devoted all her energies until her retirement in 1922. Upon retiring, she moved to New York City with her life partner Doris Fielding Reid, and wrote and published various articles about Greek drama.
Reid (1895 – 1973) was vice president of the investment firm Loomis Sayles & Company. Hamilton dedicated her first book, The Greek Way, to her. Doris was a former student of Hamilton’s, and eventually became her biographer. The two women cohabited in Maine, on Park Avenue in New York City, and finally in Washington, D.C. Together, they raised Reid’s nephew, Dorian. Edith Hamilton’s correspondence and papers are at Princeton University. After her death, in 1963, her long-time companion Doris Fielding Reid published the book Edith Hamilton: An Intimate Portrait. Doris died ten years later in Lenox Hill, New York.