Edith Hamilton

Early Life

Edith Hamilton was born on the 12th of August in 1867 in Dresden, Germany. Her parents were Montgomery Hamilton and Gertrude Pond. Her father was a businessman and her well-read mother shared various cultural and intellectual interests with her husband while engaging in domestic chores. As a young girl growing up in Dresden, Germany, Edith Hamilton was surrounded by a world of intellectual curiosity and cultural exploration. Edith found solace and inspiration in books from the moment she could read, She read plenty of stories, both fiction and non-fiction, opening her mind to different perspectives and expanding her understanding of the world. Her mother, Gertrude, recognized her daughter’s unquenchable thirst for knowledge and supported her by providing her with new books.

Edith’s love for writing emerged alongside her passion for reading. She began to write her thoughts, observations, and imaginative tales in her journal. Eventually, Edith started to write short stories and essays, exploring different genres and experimenting with various writing styles. Her dedication to her craft was evident, as she spent countless hours refining her work, seeking to improve with each new endeavor. Her parents continued to support Edith as she became a celebrated educator and author. The foundation laid in her youth, the love of reading and writing nurtured by her mother, encouraged her to explore the depths of literature and share her knowledge with others.


Edith Hamilton’s parents were unhappy with the public school system. Hence they decided to homeschool her. At age seven, her father taught her classics and languages such as Latin and Greek, while her mother helped her with literature and languages like German and French. In 1884, she attended Miss Porter’s Finishing School for Young Ladies for two years. Later, in 1891, she went to Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania. Edith worked hard and earned her bachelor’s degree, and then went on to get a master’s degree in 1894. Her parents’ dedication to her education, along with her own determination, laid the groundwork for her future success as an educator and author.

Awards and Honors

Edith Hamilton earned numerous prestigious accolades through contributions to literature and education. In 1951, she was honored with the National Achievement Award for her exceptional literary achievements. She was bestowed the Golden Cross of the Order of Benefaction in 1957 as recognition for her significant impact in the field. The following year, Edith was recognized by the Women’s National Book Association for her outstanding contributions to the literary world. These esteemed honors stand as testaments to her remarkable dedication, making her a celebrated figure in both the literary and educational realms.

Some Important Facts About Her

  1. She died on the 31st of May in 1963 in Washington, D.C. at the age of ninety-six and was buried at Cove Cemetery in Hadlyme, Connecticut.
  2. She received an honorary degree of Doctor of Letters from the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Rochester in 1950.
  3. In 1906, she became the first acting headmistress of the Bryn Mawr School in Baltimore, Maryland.

Her Career

Edith Hamilton’s remarkable journey encompassed two distinct careers – first as an educator and later as an esteemed literary figure. She explored the realms of ancient Greek and Roman literature, crafting insightful essays that still resonate today while beginning as an essayist in 1924. She produced enduring classics on ancient culture and life and transitioned into the realm of publishing. In 1930, her seminal work, “The Greek Way,” captivated readers and propelled her to unprecedented fame in the United States. Edith Hamilton skillfully drew parallels between the past and present by focusing on notable figures from Athenian history and literature. Her subsequent work, “The Roman Way” (1932), garnered acclaim for its insightful comparison between ancient Rome and modern society. Exploring religious beliefs, she ventured into “The Prophets of Israel.” Other notable works include “Mythology,” “The Trojan Women,” “Prometheus Bound,” and “Agamemnon.” Hamilton’s literary contributions remain influential and enduring.

Her Style

Edith Hamilton’s unique writing style has captivated readers around the world with its striking comparisons between the past and present. In her works, like “The Greek Way,” she skillfully weaves together stories that connect ancient and modern times, creating intriguing plot structures and engaging storylines. Her language is concise and precise, allowing readers to understand and unravel the underlying messages in her works. Hamilton employs various literary devices such as imagery, symbolism, foreshadowing, and allusions, enhancing the richness of her writing. Her writings often explore themes such as the clash between law and ethics, violence, psychology, mystery, and the power of intellect. Through her thought-provoking works, Edith Hamilton continues to leave a lasting impact on readers, inviting them to explore the complexities of the human experience.

Some Important Works of Edith Hamilton

  • Best Woks: Some of her best works include The Ever Present Past, Witness to the Truth: Christ and His Interpreters, Mythology: Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes, The Prophets of Israel, The Greek Way, Spokesmen for God, and The Echo of Greece.

Edith Hamilton’s Impact on Future Literature

Edith Hamilton’s literary contributions have had a lasting impact, as her works provide insightful interpretations of ancient life, religion, and culture, transporting readers to bygone eras. Writers and readers who share a fascination with ancient literature and classics continue to engage with her works, referencing her in discussions and commentaries. Not only did she inspire fellow writers and critics, but her influence extended to influential figures like President John F. Kennedy and David Brooks. Hamilton’s writing style remains highly sought-after, with aspiring writers looking to emulate her skill to enhance their own writing abilities. Her enduring legacy and timeless appeal continue to shape and inspire the literary landscape.

Important Quotes

  1. “Love, however, cannot be forbidden. The more that flame is covered up, the hotter it burns. Also, love can always find a way. It was impossible that these two whose hearts were on fire should be kept apart. (Pyramus and Thisbe)” (Mythology)
  2. “…a chasm opened in the earth and out of it coal-black horses sprang, drawing a chariot and driven by one who had a look of dark splendor, majestic and beautiful and terrible. He caught her to him and held her close. The next moment she was being borne away from the radiance of earth in springtime to the world of the dead by the king who rules it.” (Mythology)
  3. “When conditions are such that life offers no earthly hope, somewhere somehow, men must find refuge. Then they fly from the terror without to the citadel within, which famine and pestilence and fire and sword cannot shake. What Goethe calls the inner universe, can live by its own laws, create its own security, be sufficient unto itself, when once reality is denied to the turmoil of the world without.” (The Greek Way)
  4. “The Greeks were realists. They saw the beauty of common things and were content with it.” (The Greek Way)