Charles Bukowski

Charles Bukowski was born on August 16, 1920, in Germany. He was a poet, novelist, and short story writer. Bukowski wrote nearly 60 books, including thousands of poems, hundreds of short stories, and six novels. His work, which captured his experience, emotion, and imagination on paper, earned him cult status. He was named ‘Laureate of American Lowlife’ by “Time” for his great contribution to the American literary arena. Let us honor this literary legend today.

Fast Facts

Full Name:

Henry Charles Bukowski

Nickname:

Buk, Hank

Birth date:

August 16, 1920

Death date:

March 9, 1994 (age 73)

Zodiac Sign:

Leo

Height:

6' 0"

Net Worth:

$4 million

Henry's Social Media:

Background

On August 16, 1920, in Andernach, Germany, Henry Charles Bukowski was born to Heinrich Henry Bukowski and Katharina Bukwoski. They eventually moved to the South Central district of Los Angeles. Given his father’s abuse, nasty comments from neighborhood boys, and the Great Depression, his early childhood memories were traumatic. He attended Los Angeles City College to explore his interests in art, journalism, and literature after graduating from Los Angeles High School. He dropped out of college after two years to pursue a blue-collar career in New York.

In 1944, he had his first work published, a short story called “Aftermath of a Lengthy Rejection.” “20 Tanks from Kasseldown,” his second short fiction, was published in 1946. Bukowski embarked on a personal 10-year trip after not finding any success with his printed writings. Excessive drinking and travel characterized the period. The groundwork for his later semi-autobiographical novels was laid throughout this period. Bukowski was given a second chance in 1955 after recuperating from a serious bleeding ulcer that nearly killed him. After his near-death experience, he continued his literary career, penning poetry.

His poetry and short stories, which were mostly semi-autobiographical and revolved around the life of an indigent writer Henry Chinaski, quickly earned him cult status. “Flower, Fist, and Bestial Wail,” his first book of poetry, was published in 1959. The book received a lot of praise for its free verses that beautifully captured the feeling of desolation and abandonment. That same year, he came up with his best-known essay, “Manifesto: A Call for Own Critics.” Bukowski thrived in his career writing several pieces including poetry collections, columns in magazines and newspapers, novels, e.t.c. In 1969, he accepted the offer by Black Sparrow Press of becoming a full-time writer, which led him to quit his post office job for good. He finished his semi-autobiographical debut novel, “Post Office,” a month later. Bukowski’s literary career took off in the 1970s, when he produced a large body of work, both in poetry and fiction, that was published by small independent presses. Bukowski debuted in the screenwriting field in the 1980s with the film “Barfly,” which was released in 1984.

Bukowski married Barbara Frye, a poet from a small Texas town, in 1955. In 1958, the marriage ended in divorce. His live-in girlfriend, Francis Smith, and he later had a daughter named Marina Louise. In 1985, he married Linda Lee Beighle for the second time. Bukowski died of leukemia in San Pedro on March 9, 1994, at the age of 73, just after finishing his final novel, “Pulp.” “Pulp,” like his last poetry collection, “The Last Night of the Earth Poems,” dealt with the subject of mortality via a stinging sense of humor.

Career timeline

1960
His First Poetry Collection

He writes his inaugural book of poetry, “Flower, Fist and Bestial Wail.”

1965
His First Short Story

He publishes “Confessions of a Man Insane Enough to Live with Beasts.”

1969
“Laugh Literary and Man the Humping Guns”

He joins hands with Neeli Cherkovski to launch their mimeographed literary magazine, “Laugh Literary and Man the Humping Guns.”

1971
His First Novel

He quits his post office job for good and finishes his semi-autobiographical first novel, “Post Office.”

1973
San Francisco Film Festival's Silver Reel Award

He wins the ‘Best Cultural Film on Public Television’ award.

1986
‘Laureate of American Lowlife’

For his outstanding contribution to the American literary field, he is given the title by “Time.”

Why We Love Charles Bukowski

  1. His success story

    Throughout the 1940s, when he was a struggling writer doing cheap labor work, Bukowski lived in poor conditions. At that time, he barely managed to get by. He worked hard to achieve a reputation as one of literature's best writers.

  2. His works

    Bukowski's work is praised for its rawness and authenticity. "Post Office" and "Ham on Rye" are unapologetically realistic biographical accounts of two phases in his life. It's wonderful that he can explain his life without attempting to justify his actions.

  3. We love his quotes

    One of his best is “I guess the only time most people think about injustice is when it happens to them.” - Charles Bukowski. You'll find this in his book “Ham on Rye.”

5 Surprising Facts

  1. He hated being around people

    According to him, the further away he was from people, the better he felt.

  2. He was almost a journalist

    When he attended a journalism class at L.A. City College, he was too lazy and they chose not to hire him.

  3. He loved cats

    Bukowski had a cat called Minx.

  4. He despised Mickey Mouse

    Bukowski's wife Linda revealed his dislike of Mickey Mouse, particularly his three fingers, in "Born into This."

  5. He ate a candy bar per day

    As a struggling writer who lived in filthy hotel rooms, he barely survived, managing to eat only one candy bar per day, which cost a nickel.

Charles Bukowski FAQs

Did Charles Bukowski say “the problem with the world?”

“The problem with the world is that the intelligent people are full of doubts while the stupid one are full of confidence.” – Charles Bukwoski.

What is Charles Bukowski’s philosophy?

His philosophy for an artist was not to waste time convincing yourself to do something, but to do it.

Did Charles Bukowski say sadness is caused by intelligence?

Yes, he did.

Charles Bukowski’s birthday dates

YearDateDay
2022August 16Tuesday
2023August 16Wednesday
2024August 16Friday
2025August 16Saturday
2026August 16Sunday

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