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Trials of the Earth: The Autobiography of Mary Hamilton

posted Nov 27, 2012, 12:56 PM by Jeremy Burke

Bay Books bookstore Second Saturd


Heirs of Mary Mann Hamilton, Kerry Hamilton and Sheilah Hamilton Pantin, will be at Bay Books on Saturday, December 8th from 5:00-7:00 to sign, Trials of the Earth: The Autobiography of Mary Hamilton.

This wrenching memoir of love, courage, and survival was waiting to be told. Withheld for almost a lifetime, it is a tragic story of a woman's trial of surviving against brutal odds. Near the end of her life Mary Hamilton was urged to record this astonishing narrative. It is the only known first-hand account by an ordinary woman depicting the extraordinary routines demanded in this time and this place. She reveals the unbelievably arduous role a woman played in the taming of the Mississippi Delta wilderness, a position marked by unspeakably harsh, bone-breaking toil. On a raw November day in 1932 Helen Dick Davis entered a backwoods cabin in the Delta and encountered Mary Hamilton, a tiny, hunchbacked old woman sitting by the fire and patching a pair of hunting trousers. They became friends. "She began to talk to me of her life nearly half a century ago in this same Mississippi Delta," Davis says, "which then was a wilderness of untouched timber, canebrakes, a jungle of briars and vines and undergrowth." Spellbound during her visits to the cabin, Davis would listen for hours. At her request, Mary Hamilton began to record memories on scraps of paper. By the spring of 1933 she had given Davis a manuscript of 150,000 words, "the true happenings of my life." Married to a mysterious Englishman, she lived in crude shacks and tents in lumber camps and cooked for crews clearing the primeval Delta forests. While nursing the sick, burying the dead, and making failing attempts to provide a home for her children, she retained a gentle strength that expressed itself in a lyrical vision of nature and in mystical dreams. When Helen Dick Davis appeared to Mary Hamilton in her old age, this long-delayed memoir of pain and grace erupted in a narrative of beauty and compassion and preserved a time and a place never before recorded from such a view. Mary Hamilton's autobiography is published at long last after coming to light from Helen Dick Davis's trunk of mementos.

For more information or to reserve your copy of, Trials of the Earth: The Autobiography of Mary Hamilton please contact Bay Books at 228.463.2688.
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