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Guide to the Charles Bukowski Papers
Mss 12  
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Collection Details
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  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Biography
  • Related Material

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Charles Bukowski Papers,
    Date (inclusive): ca. 1955-1980
    Collection Number: Mss 12
    Creator: Bukowski, Charles.
    Extent: 12 linear feet (24 binder boxes, 11 document boxes, and 3 oversize boxes)
    Repository: University of California, Santa Barbara. Library. Department of Special Collections
    Santa Barbara, California 93106-9010
    Physical Location: Del Sur (Boxes 1-8, 36-37), Del Sur Oversize (Box 38), Vault (Boxes 9-33), Vault Oversize (Box 34-35)
    Language: English.

    Administrative Information

    Access Restrictions


    Publication Rights

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

    Preferred Citation

    Charles Bukowski Papers. Mss 12. Department of Special Collections, Davidson Library, University of California, Santa Barbara.

    Acquisition Information

    Bulk of collection purchased from John Martin and Charles Bukowski, latter 1960s-mid 1970s; other donations and purchases from various sources, ca. 1970s-1980s.


    Henry Charles Bukowski, Jr. was born August 16, 1920 in Andernach, Germany. In 1923 the Bukowskis left Germany and lived in Baltimore, Maryland for a few months before settling in Los Angeles, California in 1924. In 1939, Charles Bukowski enrolled as a scholarship student at Los Angeles City College to study Journalism, English, Economics and Public Affairs. Unable to hold down a job and failing in school, he left home, moved downtown and worked various manual jobs in railroad yards and factories until finally setting out on the road. Traveling across the country and working various jobs, Bukowski lived in boarding houses, drank and wrote short stories.
    At the age of 24 he published his first story, Aftermath of a Lengthy Rejection Slip, in Story magazine. Missing his hometown, Bukowski moved back to Los Angeles in 1946. For the next ten years Bukowski claimed that he quit writing and devoted his life to drinking and living the life of a Barfly. In 1955, at the age of 35, Bukowski was hospitalized at the charity ward of L.A. County with a bleeding ulcer. After a blood transfusion from his father, which saved his life, Bukowski started writing poems. In 1958, he returned to the postal service as a mail sorter (after being a mail carrier for three years, 1952-1955).
    In 1960 Bukowski published his first book of poems, Flower, Fist and Bestial Wail and in 1962, Longshot Pomes for Broke Players and Run with the Hunted. But it was the two publications by Loujon Press, It Catches My Heart in Its Hands (1963) and Crucifix in a Deathhand (1965), that gained Bukowski his nation-wide underground audience. It was at this time that he met John Martin, founder of Black Sparrow Press, which became Bukowski's primary publisher. Throughout his life, Bukowski published more than 45 books of poetry and prose, including 6 novels and the screenplay for the movie Barfly. He died of pneumonia in San Pedro, California on March 9, 1994 at the age of 73, shortly after completing his last novel, Pulp.
    The following sources provide further biographical/bibliographical information:
    • Bukowski, Charles. Ham on Rye. Santa Barbara: Black Sparrow Press, 1982. Autobiographical novel.
    • The Bukowski/Purdy Letters: A Decade of Dialogue, 1964-1974, edited by Seamus Cooney. Sutton West, Ontario, Canada; Santa Barbara, California: Paget Press, 1983.
    • Cherkovski, Neeli. Hank: The Life of Charles Bukowski. New York: Random Hose, 1991.
    • Dorbin, Sanford. A Bibliography of Charles Bukowski. Los Angeles: Black Sparrow Press, 1969.
    • Drinking with Bukowski: Recollections of the Poet Laureate of Skid Row, edited by Daniel Weizmann. New York: Thunder's Mouth Press, 2000.
    • Fogel, Al. Chrles Bukowski: A Comprehensive Price-Guide and Checklist, 1944-1999. [Miami?]: Sole Proprietor Press, 2000.
    • Krumhansl, Aaron. A Descriptive Bibliography of the Primary Publications of Charles Bukowski. Santa Rosa: Black Sparrow Press, 1999.
    • Living on Luck: Selected Letters, 1960s-1970s, Volume 2, edited by Seamus Cooney. Santa Rosa: Black Sparrow Press, 1995.
    • Montfort, Michael. Bukowski: Photographs, 1977-1991. Hollywood: Bukskin Press, 1993.
    • Reach for the Sun: Selected Letters 1978-1994, Volume 3, edited by Seamus Cooney. Santa Rosa: Black Sparrow Press, 1999.
    • Screams from the Balcony: Selected Letters, 1960-1970, edited by Seamus Cooney. Santa Rosa: Black Sparrow Press, 1993.
    • Sounes, Howard. Bukowski in Pictures. Edinburgh: Rebel Inc., 2000.
    • Sounes, Howard. Charles Bukowski: Locked in the Arms of a Crazy Life. New York: Grove Press, 1998.

    Related Material

    Related Material at UCSB
    • Charles Bukowski/John Martin Collection (Mss 166). Approximately 1,000 letters, mainly from Bukowski to his publisher, John Martin, of Black Sparrow Press, 1967-1994.
    • Sanford Dorbin Collection (Mss 21).
    • Thomas Kerrigan / Hierophant Papers (Mss 56).
    • John K. Martin Collection (Mss 145).
    • Printed works by and about Bukowski (about 600 titles) are cataloged and searchable online via Pegasus, the UCSB online catalog.
    Manuscript Sources at other institutions (as noted by Seamus Cooney in Screams from the Balcony and Living on Luck).
    • Boston University Libraries.
    • Brown University, Providence, John Hay Library.
    • Centenary College, Samuel Peters Research Library, Shreveport, Louisiana.
    • State University of New York at Buffalo, Poetry/Rare Books Collection.
    • Temple University Library, Special Collections.
    • University of Arizona, Special Collections. Bukowski material assembled by Jim Roman, Tucson bookseller.
    • University of California, Los Angeles, Special Collections.
    • University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon. [Al Purdy]
    • University of Southern California, Rare Books Collection.