Virginia hamilton adair

Virginia Hamilton Adair (1913-2004) in 1933. Courtesy Mount Holyoke College.

Virginia Hamilton Adair (February 28, 1913 - September 16, 2004) was an American poet who became famous late in life with the 1996 publication of Ants on the Melon.

Life Edit

Youth and educationEdit

Mary Virginia Hamilton was born in the Bronx, New York City, and raised in Montclair, New Jersey.[1] Exposed to poetry as a young child through her father,[2] Adair composed her 1st poem at the age of 2.[3] She began writing her own poems regularly at age 6.[2]

She attended Montclair Kimberley Academy, graduating in the class of 1929.[1] She disliked the name "Mary" and dropped it as a young adult.[3]

She earned a B.A. in English from Mount Holyoke College in 1933 and an M.A. from Radcliffe College.[4]


Though she published work during the 1930s and 1940s in Saturday Review, The Atlantic, and The New Republic, Adair did not publish again for almost 50 years. There were several factors which preoccupied her over those decades, and took her attention away from publishing her own work. These included her 1936 marriage to prominent historian Douglass Adair, motherhood, and an academic career. She was also soured on publishing her work due to her distaste for the gamesmanship of the publishing world.

Hamilton was professor emerita at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona in Pomona, California where she taught from 1957 to 1980.[4]

Adair's return to publishing came in the 1990s, following her husband's 1968 suicide, her retirement from teaching, and her loss of sight from glaucoma. Adair's friend and fellow poet Robert Mezey forwarded some of her work to Alice Quinn, poetry editor of The New Yorker. The New Yorker published the work in 1995, and the subsequently published Ants on the Melon. Adair's work then appeared regularly in The New Yorker and The New York Review of Books.

Since then, she has written over a thousand poems.[3] More than 70 of her poems have been published in journals and major magazines, such as the Atlantic and the New Yorker .[3]

She died in Claremont, California. 


  • Ants on the Melon: A collection of poems (selected by Robert Mezey). New York: Random House, 1996.
  • Belief and Blasphemies: A collection of poems. New York: Random House, 1998.
  • Living on Fire: A collection of poems. New York: Random House, 2000.

Except where noted, bibliographical information courtesy the Poetry Foundation.[5]

See alsoEdit


External linksEdit

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