Mary Virginia Hamilton was born in February 28, 1913, in the Bronx, New York City, raised in Montclair, New Jersey and died in September 16 2004, Claremont, California. She disliked the name "Mary" and dropped it as a young adult. Exposed to poetry as a young child through her father, she began writing her own poems at age 6.
She was an American poet who became famous later in life with the 1996 publication of "Ants on the Melon".
She received her B.A. in English from Mount Holyoke College in 1933 and her M.A. from Radcliffe College. She was a professor at California State Polytechnic University in Pomona, California for many years.
Though she published work during the 1930s and 1940s in Saturday Review, The Atlantic, and The New Republic, Adair did not publish again for almost 50 years. There were several factors which preoccupied her over those decades, and took her attention away from publishing her own work. These included her 1936 marriage to prominent historian Douglass Adair, motherhood, and an academic career. She was also soured on publishing her work due to her distaste for the gamesmanship of the publishing world.
Adair's return to publishing came in the 1990s, following her husband's 1968 suicide, her retirement from teaching, and her loss of sight from glaucoma. Adair's friend and fellow poet Robert Mezey forwarded some of her work to Alice Quinn, The New Yorker's poetry editor. The New Yorker published the work in 1995, and the subsequently published "Ants on the Melon". Ms. Adair's work then appeared regularly in The New Yorker and The New York Review of Books.