Wednesday, February 27, 2013


I just completed reading "Trials of the Earth," the autobiography of Mary Hamilton. I could hardly put it down once I began. From the Amazon site:

The Autobiography of Mary Hamilton; Foreword by Ellen Douglas; Introduction by Morgan Freeman. From a manuscript that surfaced more than a half century after it was written, here are the recollections of a Mississippi pioneer oman who survived merciless obstacles to save her family and home.

From Publishers Weekly

This remarkable memoir owes its existence to the indefatigable Davis ( Shim ), who met the elderly Mary Hamilton in 1931 and encouraged her to set down her recollections of life in the Mississippi Delta backwoods during the latter part of the 19th century. Rejected by Little, Brown in 1933, the manuscript, edited by Davis from Hamilton's handwritten original, resurfaced in 1991; Davis copy-edited it and approved its publication before her recent death. The unlettered yet vividly expressive Hamilton writes graphically of her arduous work, deep sorrows and exalting joys. She begins her account in Arkansas in the early 1880s, when the teenage Mary met and married Frank Hamilton, an Englishman who was manager of a lumber camp charged with clearing the forests of the Delta. Her straightforward narrative details cooking for large groups of lumberjacks, childrens' births and deaths, impermanent homes in camps and farms, loneliness, natural disasters and her husband's death in 1914. The book includes holograph pages from the original manuscript and a preface by Davis. A unique autobiography of a Southern pioneer woman.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

To read Hamilton's autobiography is to experience an extraordinary life of courage and hardship. Born in 1867 and married at age 18 to a man 12 years her senior, Hamilton found herself raising (and, sadly, burying) children in a variety of Mississippi delta farms and boarding houses. In addition to hardship, her life was tinged with mystery; her husband, Frank, came from an upper-class English family but refused to speak of his past or allow his children to claim their possible foreign inheritance. Hamilton, a born storyteller, has written a rich, simple narrative; her personal strength is surpassed only by the strength of her writing abilities. This work ranks with Martha Summerhayes's Vanished Arizona (1911). Originally turned down by a publisher in 1933, Trials of the Earth is long overdue in its chance to win readers and tell of a time long gone.
- Katherine Gillen, Mesa P.L., Ariz.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
I can say little more about the book except that my emotions ran the gauntlet. Mental images of the trials of this remarkable woman, of her love and her losses, still affect me, days after completing the manuscript. I highly recommend it, especially to the younger generation who apparently have no idea of the ordeals faced by the pioneers who built this country.

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