University of Arizona

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Papers of Charles Bukowski

Charles Bukowski (1920-1994) was born in Andernach, Germany, emigrating to the U.S. with his family when he was three. He grew up in Los Angeles and began writing as a child. He published his first story at age 24 and first poem at age 35. He spent much of his life drifting. Although Bukowski did not associate with beat writers, his style attracts readers and followers of the Beat Generation. A prolific writer, much of his work is based on his own experience using the language and subjects of the street. He wrote long-hand, much of it sent to publishers and never seen again. Bukowski became widely known after the movie Barfly (1987), which was based on his life around the time his second novel Factotum was written, starring Mickey Rourke. Bukowski wrote the screenplay and was involved with the movie production. Prior to Barfly, he was best known by the public for his novel Post Office. In literary circles, Bukowski was praised for his poetry. Yet he had a strong disregard for formal structure and did not consider himself a poet. He died in his adopted hometown of San Pedro, California.

The bulk of the collection consists of magazines and anthologies containing Bukowski's contributions; also includes books translated into other languages. Most of the manuscripts are typescript; some have edits, and some are signed and dated. These manuscripts of poems and prose often contain edge of society themes. Original appearances of Notes of a Dirty Old Man date from 1967-1976. Correspondence varies from that of friends and fans, to business correspondence with presses and magazines. A primary correspondent from 1964-1974 was bookseller Jim Roman, who wrote to Bukowski as well as to others about him. Additional correspondence, as well as poetry, stories, and drawings are from Bukowski to Darlene Fife and Robert Head of the New Orleans underground newspaper Nola Express from 1967-1973. The collection also contains unpublished poetry and prose manuscripts; drawings and cartoons; reviews; photographs; and audio cassettes of Bukowski reading his works. The drawings include self-portraits and are done in acrylics, watercolor, ink, and pencil. Ephemera consists of poetry postcards, broadsides, flyers, and posters; some are signed by Bukowski. This collection is continued by MS 171.

Some items in German, French, Italian, Spanish and Dutch.