Previously unknown original carbon typescript of the most important postwar American poem: Allen Ginsberg's "Howl." Almost certainly the only surviving draft version of this iconic poem remaining in private hands, and the only one to ever be separately offered for sale.
Very good overall.
Original Carbon Typescript for Part I of "Howl"
This copy was struck from what has become known as the fifth draft (so identified in HOWL: Original Draft Facsimiles and Variant Versions [etc.]. Barry Miles, Editor. New York: Harper & Row, 1986) and most likely dates from early 1956. It is this draft that Ginsberg read in what is the earliest known recording of the poem at Oregon's Reed College from February 1956 (indeed you can hear him turning the pages at precisely the right time on the recording), performed just three months after the legendary Six Gallery reading where the poem debuted.
This copy of "Howl" was discovered among the papers of bohemian and arts benefactor Annie Ruff, and is the exact carbon struck on Ginsberg's own typewriter from the top ribbon copy now housed at Stanford among Ginsberg's papers. Ginsberg was known to have created carbons of the poem, and the peculiarities both of Ginsberg's typewriter and of this particular typing (i.e. matching orientations of the text vis-à-vis the page edges on the top copy vs. the carbon, parallel impressions evidencing matching strike tim- ing and strength) — as well as revisions visible on both the top copy and this carbon — exactly match the original held at Stanford. It is not a fair copy, and we can also state definitively that it is not a later reproduction or duplication of any kind.
The typescript here offered differs significantly from both the later published versions (ditto and City Lights), and perhaps more importantly from even the known top-copy draft at Stanford. Words erased and retyped in the top copy are visible in the carbon, as are other changes evidenced in comparison to the published and the digitized versions (see accompanying comparison document for specific examples). As such, this typescript remains a rare window into Ginsberg's creative process, and an important document of this landmark poem. But perhaps most importantly, page seven is here in the carbon as it was originally typed, before Ginsberg retyped the entire page, changing it significantly. This original version is lacking from Ginsberg's papers and had previously only been known by the recently discovered February 1956 Reed College reading, the earliest known recording of the poem, which follows the text of the carbon here offered (indeed you can hear him turning the pages at precisely the right time on the recording), and was recorded just three months after the poem's legendary debut at the Six Gallery reading.
While the Six Gallery reading where "Howl" was debuted in an early form in October 1955, and the subsequent re-staging of this event in March of 1956 (the first time the poem was read in its entirety), made Ginsberg locally famous and even drew journalists like The New York Times' Richard Eberhart to document the nascent Beat Scene, no one was prepared for the effect the poem would have on both literature and the culture at large when it was published in the Fall of 1956 by Lawrence Ferlinghetti's City Lights Books. The book sold through its initial 1000-copy print run in just a few months, and a second printing of 1500 was ordered from the printer Villier's in London (who did handsome, inexpenive letterpress work). But when the books arrived in San Francisco from the UK, more than 500 copies were seized by US Customs authorities for obscenity, an event which (along with Ferlinghetti and City Lights employee Shig Murao's arrest later that year for selling HOWL), brought the poem — and its author — immediately to national attention, a position neither has relinquished. As the title of the 2006 book in honor of the poem's fiftieth anniversary described "Howl," it was without exaggeration "the poem that changed America." The City Lights edition has never been out of print, having sold upwards of a million copies, and the poem pioneered not only a more confessional mode of American poetry, but helped launch numerous youth movements from beatniks to hippies, Situationists to punks. The poem is a landmark in the history of gay rights, free speech, protest, censorship, and the counterculture. Only Eliot's "The Wasteland" rivals it in modern American poetry in terms of influence, legacy, and importance. Along with Kerouac's ON THE ROAD and Burrough's NAKED LUNCH, it is a cornerstone of the Beat movement and remains Ginsberg's most enduring work.
A singular opportunity and monument of American literature.
[San Francisco]: [1955/6]. 11'' x 8.5''. Eleven carbon typescript leaves; 27.5 x 21.4 cm. Double-spaced, typed rectos only on plain paper. Folded in half, possibly for mailing. All pages evenly toned. Mild creasing and chipping to edges throughout. "By / Allen Ginsberg" penned to first page in an unknown hand (almost certainly not Ginsberg's). Page numbers penciled in unknown hand (but probably Ginsberg's) to upper right corner of each leaf. Several small, unobtrusive stains to first leaf. A faint ink scribble (possibly a letter "M") to lower edge of second page. One word crossed out in pencil ("iron," likely Ginsberg's) on page eight. Lacking last leaf — the twelfth — containing final nine lines of Part I. A first edition of HOWL: Original Draft Facsimiles and Variant Versions [etc.] edited by Barry Miles is provided (Harper & Row, 1986. Near fine in like jacket).
The Fine Print
We work hard to meet our ethical responsibilty to describe our material accurately. All items are guaranteed as described and may be returned for any reason within 10 days. Please notify us before mailing a return.
We guarantee the authenticity of our items. All items are original (meaning not facsimiles or reproductions), first editions (i.e. first printings), unless otherwise noted. TPM is a member of the Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America and upholds their Code of Ethics.
All items subject to prior sale. Domestic orders over $250 and international orders over $500 ship gratis. We use USPS unless otherwise requested. Expedited, overnight, or international shipping, as well as other carriers, may carry additional costs beyond quoted rates. All orders receive tracking information and a direct contact in case of any questions.
We accept all major credit cards, Paypal, Venmo, check, money order, and bank wire. We are happy to accomodate institutional buyers' needs. Sales tax will be added to applicable purchases.
If for any reason you are dissatisfied with your purchase, please contact us. We prioritize our long-term relationships far above any individual purchase, and we want you to love your item as much as we loved cataloguing it.