Lawrence Ferlinghetti Additional Biography

Early Life

(American Culture and Institutions Through Literature, 1960-1969)

After graduating from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a B.A. in journalism in 1941, Lawrence Monsanto Ferlinghetti enlisted in the U.S. Navy, serving until the end of World War II and seeing action in both the Atlantic and Pacific theaters. He earned an M.A. in literature at Columbia University in 1948 and went on to get a doctoral degree from the Sorbonne in 1950. In 1953, he and Pete Martin founded the City Lights book shop in San Francisco and in 1955, he published his first collection of poetry, Pictures of the Gone World, as the first volume in the Pocket Poets series. Allen Ginsberg’s Howl and Other Poems, published in 1956, was the fourth book in this series and catapulted Ferlinghetti into national prominence as a central figure in the Beat movement. When Ferlinghetti’s A Coney Island of the Mind was issued by James Laughlin’s pioneering New Directions Press in 1958, Ferlinghetti was firmly established as an important part of the alternative American literary landscape.

Related Work

(American Culture and Institutions Through Literature, 1960-1969)

Planet News(1968), a book of poems by Allen Ginsberg, covers many of the same subjects as Ferlinghetti’s work.


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Though not usually associated with the beginnings of the Beat Generation in New York City following World War II, Lawrence Monsanto Ferlinghetti (FUR-lihng-GEHT-ee) is a central figure in the Beat literary movement of the 1950’s. The nucleus of this movement was constituted by Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, and William S. Burroughs, and to this nucleus Ferlinghetti added his own force, energy, spirit, and determination. Ferlinghetti’s industry as a writer, his inventiveness in combining poetry and jazz, his success in establishing the first bookstore to sell only paperbacks, and his uncompromising efforts in publishing works that tested the limits of law and social acceptance make him not only an important figure in the bohemian...

(The entire section is 689 words.)