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City Lights Books Records
BANC MSS 72/107 c  
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Collection Details
 
Table of contents What's This?
  • Collection Summary
  • Information for Researchers
  • Administrative Information
  • Corporate History
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Alternate Forms Available
  • Additional Notes on Collection

  • Collection Summary

    Collection Title: City Lights Books Records,
    Date (inclusive): 1953-1970
    Collection Number: BANC MSS 72/107 c
    Creator: City Lights Books
    Extent: Number of containers: 15 boxes, 4 cartons, 1 oversize box, 1 portfolio, and 4 oversize folders Linear feet: (circa 13 linear feet)
    Repository: The Bancroft Library.
    Berkeley, California 94720-6000
    Abstract: 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.
    Languages Represented: Collection materials are in English.
    Physical Location: Many of the Bancroft Library collections are stored offsite and advance notice may be required for use. For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the library's online catalog.

    Information for Researchers

    Restrictions

    Collection is open for research, with the following exceptions:

    Portions of this collection have been microfilmed; originals restricted.

    Publication Rights

    Copyright has not been assigned to The Bancroft Library. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Head of Public Services. Permission for publication is given on behalf of The Bancroft Library 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 by the reader.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], City Lights Books records, BANC MSS 72/107 c, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.
    Title: City Lights Books Records: Additions, 1947-[on-going],
    Identifier/Call Number: BANC MSS 77/89 c
    Title: Lawrence Ferlinghetti Papers, 1919-[on-going],
    Identifier/Call Number: BANC MSS 90/30 c

    Separated Material

    • Some photographs have been transferred to the Pictorial Collections of The Bancroft Library.
    • Allen Ginsberg's Uncle Sam hat and placard carried at Peace Parade transferred to the Object Collections of The Bancroft Library.
    • Lawrence Ferlinghetti materials have been transferred to the Lawrence Ferlinghetti Papers, 1919-[on-going], BANC MSS 90/30 c.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
    Ferlinghetti, Lawrence.
    Booksellers and bookselling--California--San Francisco.
    Publishers and publishing--California--San Francisco.
    American literature--20th century.
    Authors, American--20th century.
    Poets, American--20th century.
    Ginsberg, Allen, 1926-
    Corso, Gregory.
    Burroughs, William S., 1914-
    Kerouac, Jack, 1922-1969.
    Bowles, Paul, 1910-
    Lebel, Jean Jacques.
    Miller, Henry, 1891-
    Patchen, Kenneth, 1911-1972.
    Williams, William Carlos, 1883-1963.
    Online Archive of California.

    Administrative Information

    Acquisition Information

    The City Lights Books records, relating to both the bookshop and the publishing company, were purchased in 1971 from the Gotham Book Mart and Gallery, Inc.

    Processing Information

    Processed by Bancroft Library staff in 1973.
    Rehoused in 2005 by Dean Smith and Holly Fox, under the supervision of Tanya Hollis.

    Corporate History

    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.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    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 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 and Other Poems by U.S. Customs.

    Alternate Forms Available

    The following materials are available on microfilm (BANC FILM 2794):
    • Howl correspondence
    • Winters, Yvor, correspondence
    • Kerouac, Jack, correspondence
    • Ginsberg, Allen and Louis Ginsberg correspondence

    Additional Notes on Collection

    Collection rehoused in 2005; box numbers have been changed from earlier processing, and some items were removed to oversize. Otherwise, order of collection has been maintained.