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Charles Bukowski (1920-1994)

Charles Bukowski
Charles Bukowski at his home in San Pedro, California in 1990.

Charles Bukowski was born in Andernach, Germany in 1920 and emigrated to the United States with his parents two years later. Bukowski had lived the life of a skid row alcoholic until he was treated for an ulcer problem in 1955. He replaced his excessive drinking with writing poetry, and published the poetry collection Flower, Fist, and Bestial Wail in 1960.

Bukowski went on to write novels, short stories, and more poetry. He was awarded a National Endowment for the Arts grant in 1974, the Loujon Press Award, and the Silver Reel Award. Bukowski’s more famous works include his novels featuring protagonist Henry Chinaski, such as Post Office (1971) and Ham on Rye (1982), and his Notes of a Dirty Old Man, a collection of writing gathered from columns he wrote for the alternative Los Angeles newspaper Open City.

Widely known as a poet, Bukowski’s work emitted a sense of anti-heroism, ruggedness, and anarchism. Bukowski lived and worked on the edge, having questioned the validity of society’s ideas of morality and patriotism. Bukowski died March 9, 1994 of leukemia. 

Our Rare Book Collection has nearly 400 volumes by Charles Bukowski. We invite you to visit Archives and Special Collections to consult works by Bukowski, or other parts of our collection.  In addition, the Libraries have more than 50 volumes of works about Bukowski including biographies and critical interpretations.


Photo credit: By Artgal73 [CC-BY-2.5 (], via Wikimedia Commons