Richard Brautigan Additional Biography


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

Early Life

Relatively little is known of Richard Gary Brautigan’s life before his move to San Francisco in 1958 because of his infamously shy and reclusive personality. Born in Tacoma, Washington, he spent his childhood there and in Oregon and Montana. His writing reveals a troubled and poverty-stricken upbringing and a familiarity with fishing, hunting, and the outdoors, which would ultimately play an invaluable role in his work. Lay the Marble Tea: Twenty-four Poems, published in 1959, is believed to be Brautigan’s first book.

The 1960’s

The publication of the book of poetry The Pill Versus the Springhill Mine Disaster (1968) and the novels/prose pieces...

(The entire section is 986 words.)


(Poets and Poetry in America)

Richard Gary Brautigan was born in Tacoma, Washington, and lived his early life in the Pacific Northwest. His father abandoned the family a few months after he was born, and Brautigan’s childhood contained both poverty and abuse at the hands of a stepfather. He graduated from high school in Eugene, Oregon, but in a year had gravitated to the literary scene in San Francisco. He was a street poet in his first literary role, performing at coffeehouses and poetry clubs. Local presses published several collections of his poems in the late 1950’s, but Brautigan was definitely viewed as a regional poet. He first won fame through his novels, especially after Trout Fishing in America and A Confederate General in Big Sur were reissued by the New York publisher Delacorte at the suggestion of the writer Kurt Vonnegut. Brautigan continued to publish both novels and poetry into the 1970’s, but his popularity and his powers waned at the end of the 1960’s.

Brautigan was twice married and had a daughter with his first wife, but he suffered from alcoholism, among other troubles, and he ended his life with a handgun in the fall of 1984. The exact date is unknown because his body was not discovered until some weeks after his death. He taught at Montana State University in 1982 and traveled extensively in Japan, but he lived mostly in the San Francisco area and died in his last home in Bolinas, just up the coast from the city.


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Richard Gary Brautigan (BROWT-ih-guhn) is identified as a link between the Beat generation of the 1950’s and the counterculture movement of the 1960’s. He was born in 1935 in Tacoma, Washington. His father, Bernard Brautigan, abandoned his mother, Lula Mary Keho Brautigan, while she was pregnant with Richard. Lula Brautigan remarried at least three times, and when Richard was nine years old, his mother abandoned him and his younger sister Barbara for a short period. Brautigan began writing as a teenager, sometimes staying up all night to work on his poetry. He left home at the age of eighteen and moved to San Francisco, where he befriended writers such as Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Allen Ginsberg, Michael McClure, Robert Duncan,...

(The entire section is 941 words.)