In 1957, when the Book-of-the-Month Club selected The Greek Way (1930) as a featured book, it enhanced her efforts at directing the American mind towards Ancient Greece, despite it having been published twenty-seven years earlier. Moreover, by then, she already had published other books, among them The Roman Way (1932), Mythology (1942), and The Echo of Greece (1957); to date, at the high school and university levels, Mythology remains the premier introductory text about its subject. The New York Times has described her as the Classical Scholar who "brought into clear and brilliant focus the Golden Age of Greek life and thought ... with Homeric power and simplicity in her style of writing".
For the last 20 years of her life, classical scholar Edith Hamilton (1867-1963) lived at 2448 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W., which is near Rock Creek Park (http://dcwriters.poetrymutual.org/pages/hamilton.html). A Latin and Greek major at Bryn Mawr College, Hamilton became the popular headmistress of Bryn Mawr Preparatory School for Girls, a girls’ academy in Baltimore, when she was just 29, and remained in that position for 26 years. (In 1954, the school named a building after her.)
Edith Hamilton was a German-American educator and author who was recognized as the greatest woman Classicist. She was 62 years old when The Greek Way, her first book, was published in 1930. Hamilton dedicated the book to her companion of over 60 years, Doris Fielding Reid. Doris Fielding Reid was a stockbroker and former student of Hamilton’s. After Hamilton’s retirement, they lived together, Hamilton at home helping rising Reid’s nephew, Francis Dorian Fielding, who came to live with them.
Edith Hamilton was born in Dresden, Germany, to Gertrude Pond Hamilton and Montgomery Hamilton, a scholarly man of leisure; she also had three sisters, Alice, Margaret, and Norah. Describing her Fort Wayne, Indiana, childhood, she said, "My father was well-to-do, but he wasn't interested in making money; he was interested in making people use their minds"; thus, her father guided her towards the Classics, and, when she was seven years old, he began teaching her Latin, then French, German, and Greek.
In the early 1880s, she attended Miss Porter's Finishing School for Young Ladies in Farmington, Connecticut, afterwards attending Bryn Mawr College, in Pennsylvania. Upon earning her B.A. and M.A. degrees she won the Mary E. Garrett European Fellowship, which allowed her to continue her studies in Germany.
In 1895 Edith and her sister Alice traveled to Germany to study humanities and classics at the University of Munich, recognized as a center in classical studies. At the time, most North American women chose to register as auditors and Edith and Alice were among the first women to audit classes. Their adventures in Germany have been well preserved and publicized in Alice's autobiography.
Edith intended nonetheless to remain in Munich and earn a doctoral degree, but her plans changed. She was persuaded to return to the United States to take over as head of the recently opened Bryn Mawr Preparatory School for Girls in Baltimore. While she never completed her doctoral degree, she did become an "inspiring and respected head of the school for twenty six years."
"I came to the Greeks early," Hamilton told an interviewer when she was 91, "and I found answers in them. Greece's great men let all their acts turn on the immortality of the soul. We don't really act as if we believed in the soul's immortality and that's why we are where we are today."
Upon retiring, she moved to New York City and wrote and published various articles about Greek drama. Although she was long recognized as the greatest woman classicist, she was 62 when she published her first book, The Greek Way, in 1930. For 50 years before that her "love affair with Greece had smoldered without literary outlet".
Her approach to mythology was entirely through the literature of the classics, for she had not traveled to Greece and was not an archaeologist. The Greek Way drew informative comparisons between life in ancient Greece and current Greek life. The Roman Way (1932) provided similar contrasts between daily life in ancient Rome and the current life. Other works published over the next three decades led to her traveling to Greece in 1957 at the age of ninety.
But although her books were successful, she "nevertheless saw that it was hopeless to persuade Americans to be Greeks. In The Greek Way she conceded that life had become far too complex since the age of Pericles to recapture the simple directness of Greek life... the calm lucidity of the Greek mind, which convinced the great thinkers of Athens of their mastery of truth and enlightenment."
Her sister Alice went on to become an integral part of Hull House in Chicago, which offered food, shelter, and education, as a charity on the part of wealthy donors and scholars who volunteered their time. She later became a noted "pioneer in industrial medicine and a professor at Northwestern University and Harvard Medical School, where in 1919 she became Harvard's first woman professor.
Her younger sister Margaret also studied in Munich for one summer in 1899 with a close college and family friend, Clara Landsberg. Landsberg was from Rochester, New York, where her father was a Reform rabbi. After graduating from Bryn Mawr, Landsberg also became a part of Hull House and shared a room with Alice. She eventually left Hull House to teach Latin at Bryn Mawr while Edith was headmistress. Alice considered Landsberg part of the Hamilton family: "I could not think of a life in which Clara did not have a great part, she has become part of my life almost as if she were one of us." Margaret later taught English at Bryn Mawr and took over as head of the school when Edith retired.
Doris was the daughter of Harry Fielding Reid (May 18, 1859 – June 18, 1944), an American geophysicist. He was notable for his contributions to seismology, particularly his theory of elastic rebound that related faults to earthquakes. While in graduate school Reid married Edith Gittings (1861–1954). Her father, James Gittings, was descended from a long-standing Baltimore County family with strong connections to the legal and medical communities of Maryland. Her mother was Mary Elizabeth MacGill, whose father was a physician in Hagerstown, MD. Together, Reid and his wife would have two children: Francis Fielding Reid, born in 1892, and Doris Fielding Reid (1895-1973). Through the Gittings line the two Reid children were distant cousins to Wallis Warfield (born 1895-6), later Duchess of Windsor.
Days of Love: Celebrating LGBT History One Story at a Time by Elisa Rolle
Paperback: 760 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 1 edition (July 1, 2014)
CreateSpace Store: https://www.createspace.com/4910282
Amazon (Paperback): http://www.amazon.com/dp/1500563323/?tag=e
Amazon (Kindle): http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00MZG0VHY/?tag=e
Days of Love chronicles more than 700 LGBT couples throughout history, spanning 2000 years from Alexander the Great to the most recent winner of a Lambda Literary Award. Many of the contemporary couples share their stories on how they met and fell in love, as well as photos from when they married or of their families. Included are professional portraits by Robert Giard and Stathis Orphanos, paintings by John Singer Sargent and Giovanni Boldini, and photographs by Frances Benjamin Johnson, Arnold Genthe, and Carl Van Vechten among others. “It's wonderful. Laying it out chronologically is inspired, offering a solid GLBT history. I kept learning things. I love the decision to include couples broken by death. It makes clear how important love is, as well as showing what people have been through. The layout and photos look terrific.” Christopher Bram “I couldn’t resist clicking through every page. I never realized the scope of the book would cover centuries! I know that it will be hugely validating to young, newly-emerging LGBT kids and be reassured that they really can have a secure, respected place in the world as their futures unfold.” Howard Cruse “This international history-and-photo book, featuring 100s of detailed bios of some of the most forward-moving gay persons in history, is sure to be one of those bestsellers that gay folk will enjoy for years to come as reference and research that is filled with facts and fun.” Jack Fritscher
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