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Collection Details
 
Table of contents What's This?
  • Biographical note
  • Scope and Contents
  • Organization
  • Conditions Governing Access
  • Conditions Governing Use
  • Preferred Citation
  • Acquisition

  • Language of Material: English
    Contributing Institution: USC Libraries Special Collections
    Title: Lawrence Lipton papers
    creator: Lipton, Lawrence, 1898-1975
    Identifier/Call Number: 0159
    Identifier/Call Number: 259
    Physical Description: 103.25 Linear Feet 121 boxes
    Date (inclusive): 1883-2009
    Date (bulk): 1950-1975
    Abstract: The Lawrence Lipton papers, 1883-2009 (bulk 1950-1975), consist of correspondence, interviews, manuscripts, typescripts, audio recordings, clippings, periodicals, photographs, motion pictures, and ephemera, created and collected by Beat Generation chronicler, novelist, and poet, Lawrence Lipton. The collection documents Lipton's prolific work as a novelist, poet, and columnist through typescripts and manuscripts of his works; correspondence between Lipton and members of the Beats, including Allen Ginsberg; and interviews that Lipton conducted with a variety of notable writers and musicians during the 1960s. Lipton was born in Lodz, Poland, on October 10, 1898. In 1903, Lipton and his family immigrated to the United States -- eventually settling in Chicago. Lipton worked at various times as a graphic artist, a journalist, the publicity director of a large movie theater, a writer and poet, and a jazz composer. In the 1920s, Lipton joined an influential circle of writers in Chicago, including Ben Hecht, Carl Sandburg, Edgar Lee Masters, Sherwood Anderson, and Harriet Monroe. In the late 1930s, Lipton married his third wife Georgiana Randolph Craig, a well-known author of mystery novels and short stories who wrote under the pseudonym, Craig Rice. In addition to his earlier mystery fiction and articles for such magazines as Atlantic Monthly, Chicago Review, and Quarterly Review of Literature, Lipton wrote two literary novels, "Brother, The Laugh is Bitter" (1942) and "In Secret Battle" (1944), and a book of poetry, "Rainbow at Midnight" (1955), which was a Book Club for Poetry selection. In 1959, Lipton published "The Holy Barbarians," the book that linked him to the Beat Generation literary movement. When Lipton wrote "The Holy Barbarians," he had settled in Venice, California, where his home became an informal center for the arts, with Lipton functioning as both teacher and catalyst. In Venice, Lipton was associated with the movement to restore poetry as a vocal art long before the Beats became famous, and he began experimenting with poetry and jazz in 1956. During the last years of his life, Lipton wrote a long-running column of political commentary in the "Los Angeles Free Press" called "Radio Free America." Lipton died in Los Angeles on July 9, 1975.

    Biographical note

    Lawrence Lipton was born in Lodz, Poland, on October 10, 1898, and brought to America in 1903 by his father, Abraham Lipton. The family moved to Chicago where Abraham Lipton had close friends and relatives. When Lipton was fourteen, his father died.
    Lipton worked at various times as a graphic artist, a journalist, the publicity director of a large movie theater, a writer and poet, and a jazz composer. In the 1920s, Lipton joined an influential circle of writers in Chicago, including Ben Hecht, Carl Sandburg, Edgar Lee Masters, Sherwood Anderson, and Harriet Monroe. Lipton also married his first wife, Dorothy Omansky, during the 1920s. After Dorothy died, Lipton married Betty Weinberg, with whom he had a son, James Lipton. In the late 1930s, Lipton divorced Betty and married Georgiana Randolph Craig, a well-known author of mystery novels and short stories who wrote under the pseudonym, Craig Rice. After divorcing Georgiana, Lipton married Nettie Esther Brooks in 1948.
    In addition to Lipton's earlier mystery fiction and articles for such magazines as Atlantic Monthly, Chicago Review, and Quarterly Review of Literature, he wrote two literary novels, Brother, The Laugh is Bitter (1942) and In Secret Battle (1944), and a book of poetry, Rainbow at Midnight (1955), which was a Book Club for Poetry selection.
    The Holy Barbarians, the book that linked Lipton to the Beat writers, was published in 1959, when he was sixty-one years old. The cast of characters in the book included such "name" personalities as the writers Allen Ginsberg, Kenneth Rexroth, Kenneth Patchen, Stuart Z. Perkoff, Gregory Corso, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and Dylan Thomas. When Lipton wrote The Holy Barbarians he had settled in Venice, California, where Lipton's home became an informal center for the arts -- with Lipton functioning as both teacher and catalyst. In Venice, Lipton was associated with the movement to restore poetry as a vocal art long before the Beats became famous, and he began experimenting with poetry and jazz in 1956. In 1957, he produced and directed a series of poetry-and-jazz concerts that became the first West Coast Poetry and Jazz Festival, dedicated to Dylan Thomas and playing to capacity audiences during its two-week run. In 1958, Lipton produced Jazz Canto, released by World Pacific Records.
    Published in dozens of literary magazines and journals, Lipton's poetry and prose linked central themes relating to the social responsibility of the artist to participate in the formation of a society that was more than a collective. As a visionary, Lipton wanted the new society to be rational, functional, and responsible to the deepest needs of the human soul. During the last years of his life, Lipton wrote a long-running column of political commentary in the Los Angeles Free Press called "Radio Free America." Lipton died in Los Angeles on July 9, 1975.
    [Biography adapted from Nettie Lipton's article in the Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 16: The Beats: Literary Bohemians in Postwar America. Edited by Ann Charters, University of Connecticut. Gale Research, 1983. pp. 352-356]

    Scope and Contents

    The Lawrence Lipton papers, 1883-2009 (bulk 1950-1975), consist of correspondence, interviews, manuscripts, typescripts, periodicals, audio recordings, motion pictures, clippings, photographs, and ephemera, created and collected by novelist, poet, and Beat Generation chronicler Lawrence Lipton. The collection documents Lipton's prolific work as a novelist, poet, and columnist through a variety of materials. Typescripts and manuscripts of his works--including Erotic Revolution, Rainbow at Midnight--and Lipton's columns for Radio Free America, Interface, and the Los Angeles Free Press showcase Lipton's writing styles and core themes. Correspondence between Lipton and members of the Beats, including Allen Ginsberg, as well as Lipton's third wife, novelist Craig Rice, reveals Lipton's central position among the Beat movement. And interviews--included as both recorded audio and, sometimes, as textual transcripts--that Lipton conducted with a variety of notable writers and musicians during the 1960s provide examples of literary and political dialogue of that era. Also included are items that Lipton collected as research material, newspapers and magazines (many of which feature Lipton's published poetry), photographs, and motion pictures. Many of Lipton's articles and poems written in the era of the Beat Movement deal with subjects pertinent to "beatnik" ideology such as anti-materialism, sexual liberation, exploration of eastern philosophy, criticism of western Christendom, experimentation with psychedelic drugs, and denouncement of homophobia. Much of Lipton's poetry in this collection relates to his poetry and jazz project, as Lipton often combined these two art forms as a skilled jazz music composer.

    Organization

    The collection is organized into the following series:
    1. Works by Lawrence Lipton
    2. Correspondence
    3. Works collected by Lawrence Lipton
    4. Interview transcripts
    5. Subject Files
    6. Photographs
    7. Audiovisual material

    Conditions Governing Access

    COLLECTION STORED OFF-SITE: Advance notice required for access.

    Conditions Governing Use

    All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Manuscripts Librarian. Permission for publication is given on behalf of Special Collections as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained.

    Preferred Citation

    [Box/folder# or item name], Lawrence Lipton papers, Collection no. 0159, Special Collections, USC Libraries, University of Southern California

    Acquisition

    Purchased 1986, with additional materials subsequently donated by the Lipton Estate.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    American literature -- 20th century -- Archival resources
    American poetry -- 20th century -- Archival resources
    Authors, American -- California -- Los Angeles -- Archival resources
    Beat generation -- Poetry -- Archival resources
    Drugs and the arts -- California -- Los Angeles -- Archival resources
    Jazz -- Poetry -- Archival resources
    Poets, American -- 20th century -- Archival resources
    Protest movements -- United States -- 20th century -- Archival resources
    Underground periodicals -- California -- Los Angeles -- Archival resources
    Venice (Los Angeles, Calif.) -- Social life and customs -- Archival resources
    Clippings
    Correspondence
    Interviews
    Magazines (periodicals)
    Manuscripts
    Motion pictures (visual works)
    Photographs
    Sound recordings
    Typescripts
    Lipton, Lawrence, 1898-1975 -- Archives
    Ginsberg, Allen, 1926-1997 -- Correspondence
    Rice, Craig, 1908-1957 -- Correspondence