I just noticed this in alt.books.bukowski:
Huntington Library Gets Bukowski Archive
The iconic author's widow donates a large cache of his books and
manuscripts to the San Marino institution.
By Larry Gordon, Times Staff Writer
It is an unlikely literary marriage: Charles Bukowski, the chronicler
of a hard-drinking, womanizing, bar-brawling life in L.A.'s underbelly,
with the Huntington Library, the genteel San Marino repository of
Chaucer and Dickens.
But that's the match that Bukowski's widow made Wednesday with her
announced donation to the Huntington of his literary archive, a very
large and valuable cache of books, manuscripts and fan letters replete
with photos of less-than-fully-dressed females.
"It's going to be scandalous. This would tickle my husband. It would
crack him up," Linda Lee Bukowski said from her San Pedro home, where
curators have been sorting through more than a thousand items. Those
include a typed draft of his 1982 novel "Ham on Rye," with handwritten
corrections; his screenplay for the 1987 autobiographical movie
"Barfly;" rare poetry journals from the 1940s; and scratch forms for
horse races at Santa Anita.
Huntington officials are thrilled to have all that material and more,
some of it peppered with sex, violence and alcohol abuse, from the poet
and novelist who emerged late in life from L.A.'s underground to become
an internationally renowned author and an iconic cultural figure.
Bukowski died of leukemia at age 73 in 1994.
"Bukowski pushes the envelope a little for us. And I love that," said
Sue Hodson, the Huntington's curator of literary manuscripts, who
stressed that the library is shedding its former reputation as a "very
formal and somewhat stodgy place."
She said acquiring the Bukowski archive makes sense at the Huntington
because "we collect the very best in American and British literature,"
including such other 20th century authors as Christopher Isherwood and
At points during his life, Bukowski sold off some papers and letters to
libraries such as UC Santa Barbara and the University of Arizona, his
longtime editor, John Martin, founder of the Black Sparrow Press, said
Wednesday from his Santa Rosa office. But the Huntington's new
acquisition is the most important of any Bukowski collection and helps
confirm his reputation as "the 20th century Walt Whitman," Martin said.
Experts expressed astonishment and gratitude to Linda Lee Bukowski, who
they estimated could have sold the collection for more than $1 million.
Hodson described it as "enormously valuable," but she and Bukowski
declined to speculate on its specific worth because no full appraisal
has been done.
At a March auction in San Francisco, an autographed first edition of
Bukowski's 1960 poetry collection "Flower, Fist and Bestial Wail" sold
for $9,775, the highest price of the day and more than for works by
Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg.
Although other institutions pursued the collection, Bukowski said she
initiated talks with the Huntington because she is a frequent and
enthusiastic visitor there. "Some people look at me like I'm nuts for
not selling," she said. But donating instead, she said, "has given me a
great deal of joy."
Born in Germany to a German mother and an American soldier father,
Henry Charles Bukowski (his wife still refers to him as "Hank") moved
to the United States as a toddler and had a tough childhood in
Baltimore and in the Los Angeles area. His face was scarred with boils,
and he was badly bullied in school. He turned to drinking as a
teenager, and his early hardscrabble life and romantic misadventures
informed much of his early writings.
Starting in the mid-'60s, his partnership with Martin's Black Sparrow
Press allowed him to write full time and brought him increasing
acclaim. His published works of fiction, poetry and short story
collections include "Post Office," "Septuagenarian Stew," "Notes of a
Dirty Old Man," "Women" and "Factotum," which has been made into a film
starring Matt Dillon and is scheduled for an August release.
One of the oldest items donated is a 1946 edition of a mimeographed
literary journal called "Matrix," signed by Bukowski and containing
both a short story and a poem of his, Hodson said. The poem, "Soft and
Fat Like Summer Roses," begins: "Rex was a two-fisted man, Who drank
like a fish, And looked like a purple gargoyle."
S. A. Griffin, a Bukowski collector and expert in Los Angeles, said the
Huntington is a perfect home for a writer who is sometimes stereotyped
only for his drinking and brawling.
"I think it legitimizes his work and the impact of his work on people
around the world," Griffin said. And, he added, "it's just down the
road from Santa Anita."
LA TIMES, JUNE 15th, 2006