Harlan W. Hamilton was born in 1902 in Rantoul, Illinois, and educated at Morgan Park Academy of the University of Chicago, he had earned his bachelor's degree from Oberlin College (1824), master's from Columbia University (1927) and Ph.D. from Cornell (1934).
In 1960, with the encouragement of his friend W. P. Jones, he spent his sabbatical in England collecting correspondence of William Combe and other historical papers. Based on this collecting, Hamilton wrote the book Doctor Syntax: A Silhouette of William Combe, Esq. (1742-1823), which won the Cleveland Arts Prize in Literature in 1970.
From the guide to the Harlan W. Hamilton collection of correspondence, 1704-1958, (Ohio University)