Hamilton, Edwin (1849–1919), writer and editor, was born 14 April 1849, the only son of the Rev. Hugh Hamilton (1811–84), curate (1840–50) of Balbriggan and vicar (1844–72) of Balscadden, both in Co. Dublin, and his wife, Charlotte Mary, daughter of the Rev. Henry Ormsby. He was educated at Durham Grammar School and TCD, graduating BA in 1874, by which time he was already renowned as a humorist and dramatist. His comic verse play ‘Ariadne’ took the vice-chancellor's prize in 1872, and he followed this up the next year with ‘Rhampsinitus’, an opéra bouffe performed in Dublin, and with the pantomime ‘Turco the terrible’, which was adapted from a London piece to an Irish setting. Judged by the critic Charles Read to have ‘raised pantomime writing to the level of a fine art’ (Read, 254), it was revived frequently until the close of the century. Its comic fairy-tale verses, ‘I am the boy that can enjoy / Invisibility’ are recalled by Stephen Dedalus's mother on her deathbed and provide a motif in Ulysses.
During this period the prolific Hamilton was also editor of numerous short-lived humorous magazines. With the novelist and former editor of the Nation, Richard Dowling (qv), he took over from A. M. Sullivan (qv) the comic paper Zozimus in October 1871 and contributed verse and sketches until it ceased issue in August 1872. Within two years he had joined forces with the prominent cartoonist John Fergus O'Hea (qv) to launch in January 1874 the magazine Ireland's Eye, which was in the style of Vanity Fair. Hamilton's ‘Dublin doggerels’, a collection of light, bathetic verse, first appeared in this publication before being issued in book form in 1877. At 6d., the price of Ireland's Eye was prohibitive and the paper ceased about July 1875 after seventy-five numbers. Undeterred, Hamilton and O'Hea brought out the following year Zoz or the Irish Charivari, which, being more humorous than its predecessor and costing only 3d., ran for a rather longer time (1876–9). On its ceasing publication, the indefatigable pair immediately launched Pat in December 1879, from offices in 56 William St. Like Zoz it was published and printed by W. P. Swan, owner of the Careleton Steam Printing Works. ‘Pat's preface’ in the first number gives an idea of its humour: ‘Penetrating patriotic public, plentifully purchase Pat's periodical! Pat's peerless pencil produces pictures photographically portraying present political positions, prominent parliamentary politicians, puissant personages, premiers, princes, potentates. Punctilious purchasers pronounce Pat's portraits positively perfect’ and so on through 138 unbroken P's. It ran until March 1883 and was followed by The Irish Diamond, which specialised in political cartoons but ran to only nineteen numbers from March to July 1883 (from May it was called just The Diamond). Its demise marked the end of Hamilton's frenzied decade of activity. He edited no more magazines, though he contributed to The Jarvey (1889–91), the comic paper of Percy French (qv). He published two more books of verse; a satirical novel, Ballymuckbeg (1892); and Waggish tales in 1897, by which date his literary work had ceased. In 1887 he was called to the bar; four years later he married Helen, daughter of Daniel Delacherois, DL, of Donaghadee, Co. Down, and then moved to his wife's town, where he became a JP and practised as a barrister. His death in Donaghadee on 18 June 1919 went unmarked by the national papers. He was survived by a son.