The life of a bum : short story typescript

Biographical and Historical Notes

Charles Bukowski (1920-1994)

Charles Bukowski (1920-1994) was a 20th-century American poet and author known for his overtly masculine themes of drinking, gambling, and womanizing, and his concise, blunt writing style that carried through several novels, short story collections, and poetry collections.

Bukowski was born in Germany and immigrated to Los Angeles with his family in 1922. In 1939, Bukowski began attending Los Angeles City College, but dropped out and moved to New York to be a writer. After having little success, Bukowski gave up his dream and embarked on a ten-year, nearly fatal alcohol binge. After being hospitalized for an ulcer, Bukowski cut back on drinking and took up writing again. His first collection of poetry, Flower, Fist and Bestial Wall, was published in 1960.

Bukowski also wrote a weekly column for the Los Angeles alternative newspaper Open City and later for the Los Angeles Free Press in which he combined journalism, fiction, and philosophy in a non-traditional style. During the 1970s Bukowski began writing semi-autobiographical novels featuring the first-person narrator Henry Chinaski. Over the course of his career, Bukowski published many collections of poetry and short stories and he earned a National Endowment for the Arts Grant (1974), a Loujon Press Award, a Silver Reel Award, and the San Francisco Festival of the Arts Prize for documentary film.


"Charles Bukowski." Contemporary Authors Online (reproduced in Biography Resource Center). (accessed September 23, 2013).

"Charles Bukowski." Contemporary Authors Online (reproduced in Literature Resource Center). (accessed September 23, 2013).

Scope and Content Note

This typescript of 20th-century American poet and writer Charles Bukowski's (1920-1994) short story "The Life of a Bum" bears extensive revisions in Bukowski's hand as well as minor editor's marks.

"The Life of a Bum" addresses themes of isolation and alcoholism. The story was published in Septuagenarian Stew: Stories and Poems in 1990.

The typescript bears extensive autographed revisions by Bukowski in pen, correcting word choice and editing for cohesion and concision. Editor marks are in red and include minor formatting changes. Signed and dated with Bukowski's doodle of a man smoking and a bottle, possibly a self-portrait.