Hamilton, Mary (1882–1966)

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Hamilton, Mary (1882–1966)

British feminist, politician, journalist, and author. Born Mary Adamson in 1882; died in 1966; one of six children of Robert (a professor) and Daisy (Duncan) Adamson; honors degree from Newnham College, Cambridge University; married Charles Hamilton (an educator), in 1905.

Raised by enlightened parents who believed strongly in women's rights, Mary Hamilton attended Newnham College, where her mother had been among the first female students. There she befriended Margery Corbett-Ashby and together they joined the Cambridge branch of the National Union of Women Suffrage Societies. After receiving a first class honors degree from Newnham College, Hamilton took a position as a history teacher at the University College of South Wales. In 1905, she resigned to marry a university colleague, Charles Hamilton.

After a conversion to socialism, Hamilton joined the Independent Labor Party. Following World War I, she began writing for Time and Tide, a feminist journal, and was later employed as a journalist for The Economist. In 1929, Hamilton was elected as Labor MP for Blackburn. During her term, she served as parliamentary private secretary to Clement Attlee, the postmaster general under Ramsey MacDonald. She also served on the Royal Commission on the Civil Service, where she supported equal pay for men and women. During this time, she was part of a campaign to eliminate the marriage ban for teachers.

Though Hamilton was defeated in the 1931 General Election, she remained in the public eye, serving as a governor of the BBC (1932–36), and as a member of the London County Council (1937–40). During World War II, she headed the American Division of the Ministry of Information. Hamilton also wrote several biographies of Labor figures, including Margaret Bondfield and Arthur Henderson.

suggested reading:

Hamilton, Mary. Remembering My Good Friends, 1944.

——. Uphill all the Way, 1953.

Roberts, Marie, ed. The Reformers: Socialist Feminism, 1995.

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