North American Scholar

HIRST, Gertrude Mary

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  • Date of Birth: 1869-01-22
  • Born City: Huddersfield
  • Born State/Country: England
  • Parents: Alfred, a prosperous wool-stapler, & Mary Wrigley H.
  • Date of Death: 1962-01-12
  • Death City: Croton
  • Death State/Country: NY
  • Education:

    Newnham College, Cambridge 1887-91; M.A. Columbia, 1900; Ph.D., 1901.

  • Dissertation:

    “The Cults of Olbia” (Columbia, 1901); printed JHS 22 (1902) 245-67; 23 (1903) 24-53 (translated immediately into Russian)

  • Professional Experience:

    Tchr. Louisville (KY) Female Seminary, 1891-1901; asst. prof, to prof, class. Barnard, 1901-43.

  • Publications:

    “Notes on Juvenal I, III, VI, X,” AJP 45 (1924) 276-83; “The Significance of Augustior as Applied to Hercules and to Romulus: A Note on Livy I, 7,9 and I, 8, 9,” AJP 47 (1926) 347-57; “A Discussion of Some Passages in the Prologue to the Georgics (1.14, 15 and 27)” TAPA 59 (1928) 19-32; Collected Classical Papers (Oxford, 1938).

  • Notes:

    G. M. Hirst was born into a talented and productive upper-middle-class Yorkshire family. Her brother Francis was biographer of Gladstone, Jefferson, and John Morley, friend of C. M. Bowra, and editor of The Economist; her brother William, an authority on Argentina. Her sister Margaret was biographer of the economist Friedrich List and author of The Quakers in Peace and War. Hirst was a friend of the Arthur Woolgar Verralls of Cambridge and knew Jane Harrison. Her dissertation was praised by Michael Rostovtzeff. By chance she took a teaching position at the Louisville (KY) Female Seminary in 1891 and except for regular visits to her family in England lived the rest of her life in the United States, although never relinquishing her distinctive British traits. She bicycled down Broadway until her 80s. She did graduate work with Edward Delavan Perry and Mortimer Lamson Earle at Columbia.She taught Greek and Latin at Barnard for over 40 years. She was a demanding teacher and a well-known eccentric but was loved and respected by the girls. Her publications were largely exegetical notes on Livy, Tacitus, and the Roman poets from Virgil through Statius. She once corrected Gildersleeve on Cory's version of Callimachus and once emended Shelley's Recollection. Her greatest achievement is that at CW 19 (1925-26) 138-9 in a modest note she established the date of Livy's birth to be 64 B.C. and not 59 B.C.: see Ronald Syme, Roman Papers I (Oxford 1979) 414 n. 4.

  • Sources:

    Roger Fulford, “Francis Wrigley Hirst (1873-1953),” DNB (Compact Edition) II (Oxford, 1975) 2696; Virginia C. Gildersleeve, Many a Good Crusade (New York, 1954), 94; Alfred Hirst, “My Dark World,” The Sunday Magazine (19 Apr. 1897); Francis W. Hirst, In the Golden Days (London, 1947); Gertrude Mary Hirst, From a Yorkshire Town to Morningside Heights: Early Recollections (New York, 1957); Huddersfield Archives; NYTimes (15 Jan. 1962) 27.

  • Author: William M. Calder III