Allen Ginsberg papers, 1943-1991 [Bulk Dates: 1945-1976]
|Ginsberg, Allen, 1926-1997.
|11.25 linear ft. ( 26 boxes & 1 oversized document box)
|Rare Book & Manuscript Library
|View CLIO Record and Request Material >>
Allen Ginsberg, born Irwin Allen Ginsberg, grew up in Paterson New Jersey with his parents, Louis and Naomi Ginsberg and his
brother Eugene Brooks. Both of Allen's parents were to be major influences on him and his work-- his father, a poet and high
school English teacher, was one of his earliest and most constant readers and critics. His mother's mental illness would profoundly
affect Ginsberg as well, though in a very different way, ultimately inspiring Ginsberg's poem "Kaddish: for Naomi Ginsberg
1894-1956." Ginsberg left Paterson for New York City when he was accepted to Columbia University as an undergraduate. He entered
University in the Fall of 1943 and soon met fellow Columbia student, Lucien Carr who would introduce Ginsberg to Jack Kerouac
and William S. Burroughs. This group of friends would form the nucleus of the Beat Generation. Though a brilliant student,
Ginsberg was expelled from Columbia in 1945 for scrawling an obscenity on his window and for engaging in homosexual sex. He
did, however, return to the University the next year and completed his BA in 1948. After Ginsberg's graduation he remained
in New York City and his apartment became a meeting place and crash pad for his group of friends, including Herbert Huncke--
a drug addict, petty thief, and Times Square habitue. When the apartment was busted containing Huncke's stolen goods, Huncke
took the jail time, but Ginsberg was still implicated. Rather than go to jail, Ginsberg plead that he was psychologically
unfit to stand trial and was sent to the Columbia Psychiatric Institute for an eight month sentence. It was here that he met
Carl Solomon, to whom he would dedicate the poem "Howl." After he was released from the psychiatric hospital, Ginsberg remained
in New York for a few years, starting to write and working odd jobs, before he moved to San Francisco in 1953. Once he was
in San Francisco, he met a group of California artists and poets including Philip Whalen, Michael McClure, Philip Lamantia,
and Lawrence Ferlinghetti and became involved in the San Francisco Renaissance movement that was taking place on the west
coast literary scene. It was in San Francisco that Ginsberg first wrote "Howl" and read it for the first time at the 1955
Six Gallery reading hosted by Kenneth Rexroth. It was also in San Francisco that Ginsberg met Peter Orlovsky who would be
his lover, collaborator, and companion throughout the rest of his life. Ginsberg spent the next few years nominally based
in New York City, but traveling widely. He visited William Burroughs in Tangier, Morocco and famously lived in Paris at "The
Beat Hotel" at 9 Rue Git-le-coeur with Gregory Corso and Willaim Burroughs where he helped assemble Burroughs's The Naked
Lunch manuscript. He and Peter Orlovsky spent the greater part of 1962-1963 in India. This experience would be the basis for
his non-fiction book Indian Journals. He moved back to New York, living in both the city and a farm house in Cherry Valley
in upstate New York where he based his non-profit artists' relief fund, The Committee on Poetry. In 1974 Ginsberg helped to
found the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics of the Naropa Institute where he was also a member of the faculty. He
returned to teach at his alma mater as a visiting professor in 1968 and took a teaching position at Brooklyn College which
he retained until his death of liver cancer in 1997.
Scope and Contents
The Allen Ginsberg papers contain correspondence, artwork, manuscripts, and printed material by and about Ginsberg, including
the manuscript for "Indian Journals" and the manuscript for a collection of Ginsberg's lectures entitled "Allen Verbatim."
The collection also contains a significant number of artworks and manuscripts by Ginsberg's friends and associates, including
William Burroughs's "Interzone" (Naked Lunch) manuscript. There are a very small number of audio recordings included in the
collection as well- a recording of an interview with Ginsberg a reel to reel tape of Ginsberg singing poems of William Blake.
1987 Addition: Letters from Allen Ginsberg to Imamu Amiri Baraka. 1991 Addition: Two tape recordings on the subject of William
Blake. 1993 Addition: Books & periodicals. 1998 Addition: Letters from Allen Ginsberg to Arthur Knight.