Terms of Access and Use:
Mary Virginia Hamilton, poet and teacher, was born on February 28, 1913, in New York City. Her father was Robert Browning Hamilton, attorney for American Surety Co., and her mother was Katharine Temple Hopson. Adair, who went by the name Virginia, graduated from the Kimberly School, in Montclair, New Jersey in 1929. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Mount Holyoke College with an English major and Art minor from Mount in 1933. At Mount Holyoke she was a member of Phi Beta Kappa, a Sarah Wiliston Scholar, a winner of the Jessie Goodwin Spalding Latin Prize, and, twice, the Glasock Award for Poetry. She earned a Master of Arts in English from Radcliffe in 1934. On June 26, 1937, she married Douglass Graybill Adair, Jr., an historian. Together, they had three children, Robert, born in 1939, Douglass III, born in 1942, and Katharine "Kappa," born in 1944. Her husband unexpectedly committed suicide in 1968. Virginia taught English, first at the University of Wisconsin, Madison for a year, and then at the California State Polytechnic College in Pomona from 1957 to 1980. She published a few poems in magazines during the 1930s and 40s, and though she always wrote, did not publish again until 1996, when she was 82 and had been blind for several years. Her first book of poetry was Ants on the Melon, followed by Beliefs and Blasphemies in 1998, and Living on Fire in 2000, all published by Random House. She was awarded an honorary doctorate by Mount Holyoke College in 1999. In 2004 Virginia Adair died at a retirement community in Claremont, California, at the age of 91.
The Mary Virginia Hamilton Adair Papers span the years 1933-2004 (bulk 1995-2004), and include biographical information, poems and drawings, photographs, a televised interview, and a Robert Frost poem. The Biographical Information is arranged chronologically. Included are a few articles from the 1930s discussing Adair's success in poetry competitions. The bulk is dated 1995-2004 and covers her success as a late-blooming poet, the honorary degree she was awarded by Mt. Holyoke, and her death. There are a few clippings from Mt. Holyoke alumnae publications. Some of the articles contain examples of her poetry. The Poems and Drawings include a copy of Mount Holyoke College Verse, published in 1937, which contains several of Adair's poems, written while she was an undergraduate. The drawings were done by Adair on the fly leaves of her Latin text, which was found in the Pearsons Hall library. The Photographs consist of Adair's senior portrait from Mt. Holyoke College: four prints and a photocopy of the same picture. The Televised Interview is a VHS recording of Adair on "The News Hour with Jim Lehrer" from September 9, 1996, lasting fifty-seven minutes long. The Robert Frost poem was gifted to Adair by Ada Snell, Professor of English at Mount Holyoke 1900-1913 and 1916-1938. Inscribed and hand written by Frost to Snell on March 4, 1933, during his stay at Amherst College, the poem is titled "Snow Falling After it Clears." The poem was published under the title "Afterflakes," first in the Yale Review in 1934 and then in A Further Range in 1936.
Please use the following format when citing materials from this collection:
Mary Virginia Hamilton Adair Papers, Archives and Special Collections, Mount Holyoke College, South Hadley, Massachusetts, USA.
Processed by Jaime Taylor, 2007.
Mount Holyoke College Archives and Special Collections
8 Dwight Hall
50 College St.
South Hadley, MA 01075
Phone: (413) 538-2013
Fax: (413) 538-2370 Email Reference Form: http://www.mtholyoke.edu/lits/library/arch/forms/areq.htm