A professional storyteller since 1983, Mary Hamilton has told stories at storytelling festivals including the National Storytelling Festival, Jonesborough, Tenn.; Cave Run Storytelling Festival, Morehead, Ky.; and the Corn Island Storytelling Festival, Louisville, Ky.; as well as the farther away Florida Storytelling Camp, Oklahoma City Festival of the Arts, Nebraska Storytelling Festivaland the Forest Storytelling Festival, Port Angeles, Wa. Closer to home Mary’s work has been selected for the Kentucky Arts Council’s Teaching Artist and Performing Artist Directories, and she has told stories in 101 of Kentucky’s 120 counties. In addition to telling stories, Mary conducts storytelling workshops, serves as a peer consultant, a Specialist with Arts Tactics, and a Poetry Out Loud teaching artist for the Kentucky Arts Council and as a Prime Time Family Reading Program storyteller for the Kentucky Humanities Council. Mary’s body of work was honored with a 2009 Circle of Excellence ORACLE Award from the National Storytelling Network; the 2014 Coleen Cole Salley Storytelling Award from the Faye B. Kaigler Children’s Book Festival, University of Southern Mississippi; and the 1999 – 2000 Jesse Stuart Media Award from the Kentucky School Media Association.
Mary was a founding board member of the Kentucky Storytelling Association (KSA), an all volunteer 501(c)3 non-profit, begun in 2004. In service to KSA, Mary has served in nearly every officer position and co-wrote KSA’s by-laws, 501(c)3 application, board manual, and several successful Kentucky Arts Council grant applications.
Mary is also a recording artist and author. Her story recordings have garnered a Parent’s Choice Gold and a Storytelling World Winner designation for her CD "Sisters All. . . and One Troll," which features her unique eleven-in-one multicultural mash up of “Cinderella,” and a Storytelling World Honor designation for her CD "Alligators, Bees, and Surprise, Oh My!". Her book, "Kentucky Folktales: Revealing Stories, Truths, and Outright Lies," published by University Press of Kentucky, earned a Storytelling World Winner designation and an Anne Izzard Storytellers’ Choice Award.
Mary Hamilton grew up on a Kentucky farm where telling stories was considered more of a moral failing than a potential career. Before becoming a professional storyteller, she earned a bachelor of arts in education and a master of science in library science from University of Kentucky and worked as a high school English teacher and a public library children’s librarian.