Published in 1942, Mythology by Edith Hamilton is one of the most comprehensive guides to mythology ever written. In her stories she makes the characters come to life. From the Greek gods to the Roman gods and on to the Norse gods. She also includes stories about the heroes in mythology such as Jason and his Argonauts, … [Read more...] about Mythology
Edith Hamilton was born in 1867 in Dresden, North Germany. Her parents were Americans who returned to America shortly after her birth. They settled in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Her father was a scholar and man of leisure. He attended Princeton, Harvard and studied in Germany. The Hamilton's lived on inherited wealth from her grandfather, Allen Hamilton who was a land speculator and successful businessman. Her mother, Gertrude spoke several languages and was active in her community socially.
Her father tried his hand at a business but failed to cause a bit of financial hardship. This taught Edith to train for a profession to support herself. She became a teacher. Edith was the oldest of six children. All of them were successful in everything from medicine to artist. Only one of them married, but he and his wife never had children.
Edith and her siblings her home schooled because her parents did not like the public school system. They learned Latin, Greek, French, and German. Since it was a tradition for the Hamilton's Edith attended Finishing School in Connecticut. Afterwards, she attended Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania. She became the first woman to enroll at the University of Munich.
Although she had planned to stay in Germany, Edith was persuaded by the president of Bryn Mawr College to become the head administrator. Along with her job as an administrator, Edith taught classics. She was named the first headmistress in the school's history. After a career of pushing for better education for girls and a more rigorous curriculum, she retired at the age of fifty-four.
After her retirement, she moved to New York City and became an author. She wrote about ancient Greek and Roman civilizations and is well known for her compilation of myths. For the next fifty years, she wrote Greek drama and comedies as well as essays and articles. She was sixty-two when her first book was published, The Greek Way. It was a best seller that compared ancient Greek and modern day.
Her next book gave the same treatment to ancient Rome. Then she went on to study the Bible. Through her comparisons between the prophets in the Bible and modern day people, she proved the prophets were practical, and their ideas were modern. Her book Mythology sold over four and a half million copies in 1957 and has since been used in mythology curriculum.
In 1929 she and Doris Fielding Reid became life partners. Reid was a stockbroker, and the two had residences in New York and Maine. They are buried next to each other in Connecticut. At ninety years old, Edith traveled to Athens. There she saw her translation of Prometheus performed at the ancient Odeon theater of Herodes Atticus and was awarded the Golden Cross by the King of Greece. She was made an honorary citizen of Athens.
Edith Hamilton died at the age of almost ninety-six on May 31, 1963. She was a world renown classical scholar and author. She was also a beloved educator. She was a feminist who pushed the rights of women and blazed the trail for future female scholars.