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Finding Aid to City Lights Books Records, 1953-1970
BANC MSS 72/107 c  
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Collection Overview
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Consists of correspondence, editorial and administrative files. Correspondents include Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Corso, William S. Burroughs, Jack Kerouac, Paul Bowles, Jean Jacques Lebel, Henry Miller, Kenneth Patchen, and William Carlos Williams, among others. Editorial files may contain correspondence with authors, manuscripts, mock-ups and dummies, and other editorial materials. Administrative files pertain to both the City Lights Books bookstore and publishing company, and contain lists of publications, publicity materials, and clippings, and publicity and documents on the obscenity trial resulting from the seizure of Allen Ginsberg's book Howl by U.S. Customs.
City Lights Books, the first all paperback bookstore in the country, was started in San Francisco in 1953 by Lawrence Ferlinghetti, in partnership with Peter Martin. Situated in North Beach on Columbus Avenue, it quickly became the center for Beat poets and other experimental writers who figured strongly in the city's literary renaissance. On January 1, 1955, Ferlinghetti became sole owner of the shop. Convinced that it was a natural for a publishing company, too, he began to publish paperbacks as well as sell them. First to appear in 1955 was a book of his own poems, Pictures of the Gone World, in the "Pocket Poet Series." In time, the series included works by Kenneth Rexroth, Kenneth Patchen, Allen Ginsberg, William Carlos Williams, Robert Duncan, Gregory Corso, Frank O'Hara, Malcolm Lowry, Bob Kaufman, Philip Lamantia, and others. City Lights also published a number of prose paperbacks, including Jack Kerouac's Book of Dreams, Michael McClure's Meat Science Essays, Alan Watts' Beat Zen, Square Zen, The Yage Letters by William S. Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg, Paul Bowles' A Hundred Camels in the Courtyard, and Edward Dahlberg's Bottom Dogs.
15 boxes, 4 cartons, 1 oversize box, 1 portfolio, and 4 oversize folders (circa 13 linear feet) 7 digital objects (9 images)
Materials in this collection may be protected by the U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.). In addition, the reproduction of some materials may be restricted by terms of University of California gift or purchase agreements, donor restrictions, privacy and publicity rights, licensing and trademarks. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by copyright beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owner. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.
Collection is open for research, with the following exceptions: Portions of this collection have been microfilmed; originals restricted.