Gail Hamilton was the pen name of Mary Abigail Dodge, born on a farm in Hamilton, Massachusetts, the daughter of James Brown Dodge and his wife Hannah Stanwood, a former schoolteacher. She was educated at a boarding school in Cambridge and Ipswich Female Seminary, from which she graduated in 1850. She taught at her school and at Hartford Female Seminary, but wanted to become a writer. In 1858, she moved to Washington, D.C., to work as a governess for the family of Gamaliel Bailey, editor of the National Era, an anti-slavery publication. She began to contribute articles to the paper under the pseudonym "Gail Hamilton," taken from her own middle name and her hometown, and was adamant about her privacy. She became one of the first women in the USA to be a successful writer. She published hundreds of newspaper articles, essays, and book reviews, and more than 25 books, including two volumes of poetry and a novel. Her frequent topics were women’s rights, politics, religion, and children’s issues. Her books included Woman’s Wrongs: A Counter-Irritant (1868), a response to Rev. John Todd’s 1867 work Woman’s Rights, and Woman’s Worth and Worthlessness (1872). She was also highly critical of the publishing industry and sued Ticknor & Fields for underpaying her. Although she was unsuccessful, the lawsuit was an important event in the history of professional women writers.