Edward Hoagland - Life


Hoagland joined the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus in the summers of 1951 and 1952. He helped to tend the big cats and later sold a novel about this experience, Cat Man (1955), before graduating from Harvard in 1954. After serving two years in the Army, he published The Circle Home (1960), a novel about boxing, before going on the first of nine trips to Alaska and British Columbia.

During the 1970s, he made the first two of his five trips to Africa. After receiving two Guggenheim Fellowships, he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1982. He has taught at The New School, Rutgers, Sarah Lawrence, CUNY, the University of Iowa, U.C. Davis, Columbia University, Beloit College, and Brown. In 2005, Hoagland retired from a teaching position at Bennington College in Vermont. Since 1968, he has focused most of his energies on Montaigne-type essays.

According to the Dictionary of Literary Biography, "Hoagland's love of solitude and silent observation of wildlife rather than social conversation may have resulted from a severe stammer that still persists. This stammer has, according to Hoagland himself, influenced how he writes: 'Words are spoken at considerable cost to me, so a great value is placed on each one. That has had some effect on me as a writer. As a child, since I couldn't talk to people, I became close to animals. I became an observer, and in all my books, even the novels, witnessing things is what counts.' His reluctance to speak may account for his desire to write--and be read--and for the sensitive visual, tactile, and olfactory images in his writings."

Since his retirement, he has spent his summers in Barton, Vermont at a place he has owned since 1969, and his winters in Martha's Vineyard.

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