Queer Places:
University of Cambridge, 4 Mill Ln, Cambridge CB2 1RZ
Golders Green Crematorium Golders Green, London Borough of Barnet, Greater London, Englan

Mary Amilton.jpgMary Agnes "Molly" Hamilton (née Adamson, 8 July 1882 – 10 February 1966)[1] was the first woman Journalist (The Economist) in 1913. A friend of Margaret Bondfield, she wrote her biography in 1924. Mary Agnes Hamilton was a close friend of Elizabeth Robins, Rose Macaulay, Ellen Wilkinson and Lady Astor.

Molly Hamilton was a writer, journalist, broadcaster, civil servant, and the Labour Member of Parliament for Blackburn from 1929 to 1931. Women liaised with each other internationally through the League of Nations, the Women’s Freedom League, the British Commonwealth League and the Save the Children Fund. They also collaborated in expressing their political ideas through writing for journals such as Time and Tide edited by Margaret Haig, The Shield edited by Alison Neilans, the Woman’s Leader coedited by Elizabeth Macadam, and collaborated to write books such as Our Freedom and its Results by Five Women, edited by Ray Strachey and with contributions by Eleanor Rathbone, Ray Strachey, Erna Reiss, Alison Neilans and Mary Agnes Hamilton.

Mary Agnes Adamson (known as Molly), was born in Withington, Manchester, the eldest of six children of Scottish parents: Robert Adamson, a professor of logic at Glasgow University, and his wife Margaret Duncan, a Quaker who had been a teacher of botany at Manchester High School for Girls before their marriage in 1881.[2] The family moved back to Scotland in 1889.

She was educated at Aberdeen and Glasgow Girls' High Schools before attending the University of Kiel in 1901 for seven months to learn German. She went up to Newnham College, Cambridge (where her mother had also been a student) in 1901 to read Classics, then Economics as part of the History tripos, graduating in 1904 with first-class honours.

Nine victorious members of the Labour Party at the 1929 General Election: Left to right, Cynthia Mosley, Marion Phillips, Susan Lawrence, Edith Picton-Turberville, Margaret Bondfield, Ethel Bentham, Ellen Wilkinson, Mary Hamilton and Jennie Lee.
Nine victorious members of the Labour Party at the 1929 General Election: Left to right, Cynthia Mosley, Marion Phillips, Susan Lawrence, Edith Picton-Turberville, Margaret Bondfield, Ethel Bentham, Ellen Wilkinson, Mary Hamilton and Jennie Lee.

Mary Agnes Hamilton was a prolific writer. During the 1910s she supported herself through journalism, translating works from French and German, and publishing books on ancient history and American presidents for children. In the 1920s, she wrote for journals including the Review of Reviews and Time and Tide. She moved in literary circles with Leonard and Virginia Woolf and the Strachey family; provided research assistance to Lawrence and Barbara Hammond in Hertfordshire; and met regularly with intellectuals and economists while living near Fleet Street during the 1920s, including John Reeve Brooke, Dominick Spring-Rice, Rose Macaulay, Naomi Royde Smith, and William Arnold-Forster. Hamilton published short, sympathetic biographies of two women trade unionists, Margaret Bondfield and Mary Macarthur, and, under the pseudonym 'Iconoclast', a portrait of Ramsay MacDonald. In 1922, at MacDonald's instigation, she briefly and unhappily became assistant editor of the I.L.P.'s journal Labour Leader under the left-wing editor, H. N. Brailsford. In 1916 Hamilton caused some controversy by writing an anti-war novel, Dead Yesterday.[3]

She stood unsuccessfully for Labour in the 1923 and 1924 general elections. In the 1929 general election Mary Agnes Hamilton won one of two seats for Blackburn, securing the highest number of votes of any Labour woman candidate. She made her mark in parliament with a series of notable speeches, during which she always wore red shoes. Hamilton was appointed a delegate to the League of Nations in Geneva, where in 1929 and 1930 she worked on the Refugees Commission and the International Committee on Intellectual Cooperation. In 1930–31, she was also parliamentary private secretary to the Postmaster General, Clement Attlee, who wrote to The Times upon her death that she was 'one of the ablest women who entered the House of Commons'. Mary Agnes Hamilton did not join the National Government in August 1931, and was instead elected to the Labour Party's parliamentary executive. She lost her seat in the 1931 general election, having become increasingly critical of Labour's unemployment policies, and never returned to Westminster. Mary Agnes Hamilton also worked on the Balfour Committee on Industry and Trade 1924–29, and the Royal Commission on the Civil Service, 1929–1931. In 1937 she was elected an alderman on the Labour-controlled London County Council.[4] [5]

Mary Agnes Hamilton worked for the General Production division of the Ministry of Information from February 1940 to February 1941. She then transferred to the Reconstruction Secretariat, later the Ministry of Reconstruction, where she served on planning committees for education, housing, employment, and the Beveridge Report. In May 1944 she returned to work for the Overseas Department of the Ministry of Information. In August 1946, the American Division, of which she was then in charge, was transferred to the Foreign Office, where she stayed until she left the civil service in February 1952. Hamilton was made a CBE for this work in 1949.

Mary Agnes Hamilton presented the first Week in Westminster for the BBC in 1929. She continued to give talks on current affairs and professional careers for women, among many other topics, during the 1930s and 1940s, and was made a governor of the BBC, 1933–1937,[6] and a member of the Brains Trust.

In September 1905 she married Charles Joseph Hamilton, an economist colleague at the University of South Wales, Cardiff, where she had briefly been employed as a history tutor. She petitioned for and obtained a divorce in 1914.

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