Lawrence Ferlinghetti papers
A Guide to the Collection
As did other members of the Beat generation, Ferlinghetti and his fellow poets rejected the values of Middle America. They searched their souls, found alternate ways of experiencing and relating to the world around them, and through their writing, attempted to return poetry back to the masses.
Common beliefs held by members of this group were: an opposition to violence in both art and life, a concern for the development of the whole man, and the idea that love provides meaning in life. These beliefs played an important role in the shaping of the counter culture, which appeared in the 1960s, represented by the "Hippie" movement. Ferglinghetti believed that through the establishment of his bookstore in 1953, City Lights Pocket Bookshop (now called City Lights Books; the first all paper-bound bookstore in the country), he established a cultural center that linked the Beats of the fifties to the Hippies of the sixties.
Born on March 24, 1919 or 1920, probably in Yonkers, N.Y., perhaps in the Virgin Islands or in Paris, France, Lawrence Ferlinghetti was the fifth and last son of Clemence (Monsanto) and Charles S. Ferlinghetti. His father, an Italian auctioneer, arrived without papers in this country from Lombardy around the turn of the century. Ferlinghetti’s father shortened the family name to Ferling and it remained that way until 1954 when Lawrence restored the name to its original form.
Lawrence Ferlinghetti did not know his parents because his father died suddenly before his birth and his mother was enclosed in an asylum shortly after she gave birth to him. A French "aunt" (Emily Monsanto) took Lawrence Ferlinghetti to France while still a baby. He remained there for an unknown number of years.
He eventually returned to the United States where he received a B.A. degree from the University of North Carolina, an M.A. degree from Columbia University in 1948 and a Doctorate de l’ Universite from the Sorbonne in Paris in 1951. During April of that year he married Kirby Selden Smith. They had two children – Julie and Lorenzo.
Ferlinghetti is noted for the establishment of his bookstore, publishing the Pocket poet Series, and his poetry. During his career, he has served as editor for all City Lights books; written numerous poems, broadsides, and novels; made a film; recorded readings of his poetry; and contributes to numerous books and journals.
Contemporary Authors: A Bio-Bibliographical Guide to Current Authors and Their Works, pp. 373-375.
Meltzer and Shoemaker. Bibliography from taped interview. Ferlinghetti Collection, DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas.
The Lawrence Ferlinghetti papers provide only a minimal view of Ferlinghetti’s personal and business life. The correspondence is directed primarily to his secretary in small notes regarding various books and writing projects and humorously signed by Ferlinghetti.
The collection also includes various printed promotional material and a section entitled "Literary Productions" containing manuscript works by the poet. The most significant items are two typescripts by Ferlinghetti ("Autobiography" and "Junkman’s Obligato") that differ considerably from the published versions.
Access to Collection:
Collection is open for research use.
Permission to publish materials must be obtained from the Director of the DeGolyer Library.
It is the responsibility of the user to obtain copyright authorization.
Lawrence Ferlinghetti papers, DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University.
The Ferlinghetti Collection was purchased by Colophon, a friends group for the Southern Methodist University libraries in 1974 and was presented to the DeGolyer Library at that time.
Gift, Colophon, 1974.
Linda James, Intern May 1982 with revisions by Dawn Letson.
Lara Corazalla, 2007.
Detailed Description of the Collection