About Norah Hamilton
Norah Hamilton -- (1873-1945) Fourth child of Montgomery and Gertrude Pond Hamilton. Said by sister Alice to have been her father's "special pet and pride." " When she early showed her talent for drawing, he used to call her his genius. We never felt jealous because we were not geniuses; indeed the relations between us four (Edith, Alice, Margret and Norah) were so intimate and understanding that when one of us would be singled out for admiration by a not too discerning parent, it would only amuse both the praised and the unpraised. Norah was as vivid and intense as Margaret was steady -- with her it was rapture or tragedy, and so of course she was terribly vulnerable to the sort of teasing and baiting that children love to inflict when they find an easy victim." (Alice Hamilton's autobiography, Exploring the Dangerous Trades, pg. 20)
Norah attended Miss Porter's School in Farmington, Conn. and graduated in 1890 with her sister Margaret. Norah then attended the Art Student's League in New York City. She spent some time at Hull House in Chicago with her sister Alice. And she illustrated at least one book by Jane Adams, the founder of Hull House and noted pacifist.
Norah had a nervous collapse in Europe in 1900 and was hospitalized twice in Switzerland. "For the rest of her life she had periods of depression and incapacity". Her mother Gertrude came to be with her in Europe at this time, leaving her 4 year old brother Quint in sister Margaret's care.
Norah took a trip with her sister Alice to Europe in 1912 and visited Northern Ireland where they investigated Hamilton family ancestors.
In her 1921 book Art and Artists of Indiana Mary Q. Burnett, the author, notes that Norah is living at Hull House, that she is recognized as an etcher, and that she was a pupil of Jacob Cox in New York and of Whistler in Paris. She was then a member of the Chicago Society of Etchers. (pg. 373-374) Elsewhere the author notes, "Another pupil of the Fort Wayne School of Art is Norah Hamilton, whose etchings are shown in the larger museums. " (pg. 302)
In 1938 Norah was in Brittany, France apparently on her own. She apparently remained there for several years.
Holman Hamilton in November 1979 said, "She was in France considerably... Nora, I didn't know as well. I should say this, that I saw these people every summer from the time I was let's say five or six years old until I was about twelve years old; I saw them almost daily when they were in Mackinac every summer, even though they were living in other places permanently. Sometimes Norah would be there for a fairly long time.
" Nora was very much the artist, and as you know, some of her work is in Alice Hamilton's book, Exploring the Dangerous Trades. I think she had talent; I'm not a very good judge of that perhaps. She was an etcher. We have an etching of hers in Mrs. Hamilton's room in our house in Kentucky, a very lovely etching of an immigrant woman and two children. It's sort of a Madonna effect.
"I got the impression that Norah was... well, there was a somewhat ethereal quality in her, and she was the kind of person if she hadn't been interested primarily in art perhaps would have been a poet or a musician, somebody like that. "
Norah illustrated her sister Alice's autobiography and several books by Jane Addams. She had an art studio in the ship's chandlery (candle shop) at Hadlyme, Connecticut Letters and drawings at Schlesinger Library.
Cousin Phoebe Hamilton Soule remembers that Norah was just "kind of floating out there." Phoebe's not really sure where Norah lived much of the time...
She died at Hadlyme at the age of 72.