Monday, June 22, 2009

Literary Landmarks of New York by Bill Morgan

I picked this one up at a sale and thought that I ever got myself to New York City, I'd take it along with me and see some of the sights with it; and I mean the literary sights where some of the famous - and not so famous - writers hung out for meals, parties and swapped notes with other writers. Even if you don't get to fly there, it's well worth a read to find your favourite American or New York author and find out exactly what they got up to in their hey-day ... or are still getting up to! This book is a wonderful read and had photographs of the very people us readers and writers are crazy about! So, sink your teeth into this one and follow your favourite party-going writers around the Big Apple.

Bill Morgan has had an interest in the Beats that goes back to the early 1970s, when he was attending library school at the University of Pittsburgh. he compiled a bibliography of the works of Lawrence Ferlinghetti, poet and owner of City Lights Books, the famous San Francisco bookstore and one of the most important publishers of the early Beat writers, most notably Allen Ginsberg for his master's degree thesis. After finishing this, Morgan was encouraged by the editors at the University of Pittsburgh Press to pursue this project with a view towards eventual publication. He continued his research, working in close collaboration with Ferlinghetti as his personal bibliographer, and, after a decade of patient research, he published the very thorough and scholarly
Lawrence Ferlinghetti: A Comprehensive Bibliography (New York: Garland Publishing, 1982).
Morgan had moved to New York City by 1980 where the San Francisco poet referred him to Allen Ginsberg, whose own personal library and archive were among the best sources of information in New York on the Beats. Consultations with the poet grew into an enduring relationship that lasted from the early 1980s until Ginsberg's death in 1997. During the years Morgan served as Ginsberg's archivist and bibliographer, he helped the poet to organize and maintain his ever-increasing library and records. As Ginsberg's bibliographer, Morgan spent fifteen years corresponding with and visiting numerous publishers, editors, scholars and library collections in order to gather sufficient information to document the history of Ginsberg's prodigious output and the worldwide attention it has drawn. The results that have appeared are in a massive and authoritative two-volume bibliography:
The Works of Allen Ginsberg, 1941-1994: A Descriptive Bibliography and The Response to Allen Ginsberg, 1926-1994: A Bibliography of Secondary Sources (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1995, 1997).
Bill Morgan has probably the largest private collections of printed works of and about F
erlinghetti and Ginsberg in private hands. He found it increasingly difficult to maintain these two very large and valuable collections in his New York City apartment, he reluctantly determined to part with them. Knowing that Ferlinghetti was a UNC-Chapel Hill alumnus, he decided in the fall of 2001 to offer his collection of the San Francisco poet to the UNC libraries. Discussions with library officials led to the transfer of the collection to Chapel Hill in December of that year, partly as sale and partly as gift. Pleased with the outcome and aware that the library's interests extended to other authors associated with the Beats, Morgan then offered a similar arrangement for his even more remarkable Allen Ginsberg collection. His proposal was enthusiastically greeted at UNC, and the materials were delivered to the Rare Book Collection in Wilson Library in August 2002.

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