Scope and Contents
The Vicki Hearne Papers consist of correspondence, writings, personal papers, photographs, audiotapes, and clippings. The papers span the years 1920 through 2005, with the bulk of the material dating from 1976 through 2001. Hearne's papers document the development of her writing, from her works of poetry in the 1970s, through the books and articles she wrote in defense of dogs at the turn of the twenty-first century. Her writings reveal the connection between two seemingly separate endeavors--her work as an animal trainer and as an author and poet--both vocations informed by her readings and interpretation of philosophers including Plato, Nietzsche, and Wittgenstein. Drafts of many of her works of poetry, non-fiction, and her book of fiction reveal the evolution of the works, and notes and comments by editors regarding works submitted for publication illustrate the nature of her relationship with her publishers. Letters from colleagues and friends, particularly her mentor, John Hollander, provide insight into the support she received from those individuals. Files relating to animal training and the material accompanying the drafts of her writings, particularly the Bandit case correspondence, case files, and clipping files, reveal her professional and personal connection to her own companion animals and to those of her friends and colleagues. While Hearne made her position on animal training, behavior, and rights clear in her writings, the research and clipping files provide additional background information on the subjects, and document the various points of view among law enforcement and legislators, members of various animal rights organizations, and dog trainers and breeders. Letters from dog breeders (particularly Roselma Elliot) with whom she had professional and personal relationships document not only the business of breeding and selling of dogs, but behaviorial and health issues of animals owned by Hearne and others as well.
- 1920 - 2005
- Majority of material found within 1976 - 2001
Conditions Governing Access
The materials are open for research.
Boxes 42-43 (audiovisual material): Restricted fragile material. Reference copies may be requested. Consult Access Services for further information.
Box 44: Restricted until January 1, 2060. For further information consult the appropriate curator.
Conditions Governing Use
The Vicki Hearne Papers are the physical property of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. Literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns. For further information, consult the appropriate curator.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Bequest of Vicki Hearne, 2002, and gift of James Hearne, 2008.
Organized into five series and one addition: I. Correspondence, 1976-2001. II. Writings, 1969-2001. III. Animal Records and Training Files, 1989-2001. IV. Personal Papers, 1920-2001. V. Photographs and Audiotapes, 1955-1992. 2008 Addition, 1983-2005.
20.35 Linear Feet (45 boxes)
Language of Materials
The Vicki Hearne Papers consist of correspondence, writings, personal papers, photographs, audiocassettes, and clippings that document the development of her writing, from her works of poetry in the 1970s, through the books and articles she wrote in defense of dogs at the turn of the twenty-first century. Her writings reveal the connection between her work as an animal trainer and as an author and poet, both vocations informed by her readings and interpretation of philosophers including Plato, Nietzsche, and Wittgenstein. Drafts of many of her works of poetry, non-fiction, and her book of fiction reveal the evolution of the works, and notes and comments by editors regarding works submitted for publication illustrate the nature of her relationship with her publishers. Letters from colleagues and friends, particularly her mentor, John Hollander, provide insight into the support she received from those individuals.
Vicki Hearne (1946-2001)
Victoria Elizabeth Hearne was born in Austin, Texas, on February 13, 1946, and grew up in a military family in Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi. Hearne began her dog and horse training career in California in 1967, after learning she had a talent for the work when she trained her own dog under the mentorship of Hollywood animal trainers Bill and Dick Koehler. She continued to work with animals throughout her life. Having written poetry since her childhood, she studied writing and received a B.A. in English from the University of California, Riverside, in 1969. Hearne's published collections of poetry include Nervous Horses (1980), In the Absence of Horses (1983) and The Parts of Light (1994). Individual poems written by Hearne were published in magazines and journals including The New Republic, The Partisan Review, and Poetry. She was a Stegner Fellow in Poetry at Stanford University, and received a writing grant from the Ingram Merrill Foundation. In 1984, she was given the Peter I . B. Lavan Younger Poets Award from the Academy of American Poets. She taught creative writing at the University of California at Riverside from 1980 to 1984. From 1984 to 1986, she was an assistant professor of English at Yale, and she was a visiting fellow at the Institution for Social and Policy Studies at Yale from 1989 to 1995. Following her move to the Northeast, Hearne continued to train dogs at Silver Trails: The Animal Inn in Westbrook, Connecticut. Vicki Hearne and her first husband (from whom she was divorced in 1970) were the parents of a daughter, Colleen Lerman. Hearne married Robert Tragesser, a professor of philosophy, in 1983. She died of lung cancer in Branford, Connecticut on August 21, 2001.
Hearne's writing was informed by her work with dogs and horses and the philosophies of Plato, Nietzsche, and Wittgenstein, among others. She addressed issues of animal behavior and the ways in which animals communicate with humans in her books of nonfiction and in magazine and journal articles. She authored Adam's Task: Calling Animals by Name and Animal Happiness, and co-authored the book Horse Breaking: The Obedience Method with Bill Forest. Her articles "Talking With Dogs, Chimps and Others," and "How to Say Fetch," were published in Raritan in the early 1980s. She was published in American magazines including The Atlantic Monthly, Harper's, and The New Yorker, and in foreign publications including the Japanese edition of Esquire Magazine.
An ardent defender of breeds of dogs labeled by legal authorities as innately dangerous, Hearne served as an expert witness on dog behavior beginning in the 1980s. Her experiences while defending a dog (mistakenly identified as a pit bull) that had been sentenced to death for his biting offences in Stamford, Connecticut, were the subject of her book, Bandit: Dossier of a Dangerous Dog. After being granted custody of the dog for three months Hearne rehabilitated Bandit and was given permanent guardianship of the animal. She appeared in various media, gained an international following, and wrote numerous articles in which she spoke against city ordinances that banned particular breeds of dogs. The events surrounding the Bandit case were also chronicled in a documentary film, A Little Vicious, which was nominated for an Academy Award in 1992.
- Guide to the Vicki Hearne Papers
- by Susan Brady
- July 2007
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description note
- Finding aid written in English.
Part of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library Repository
P. O. Box 208330
New Haven CT 06520-8330 US
121 Wall Street
New Haven, CT 06511
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