The Harry Ransom Center, a humanities research library and museum at The University of Texas at Austin, acquired the archive of American poet Peter Orlovsky (19332010), an important figure in the Beat Generation.
Orlovsky was fellow poet Allen Ginsberg’s companion for more than 40 years, and his papers reflect significant aspects of their relationship. Orlovsky’s collection comprises manuscripts, journals and notebooks, correspondence, tape recordings, photographs and other personal documents, including unpublished poetry and prose works.
Around the time that Orlovsky met Ginsberg, he began to keep a journal, filling more than 140 notebooks before his death. Some of Orlovsky’s published poems appear in the journals, yet none of the journals has been published.
“Orlovsky’s papers provide an intimate look into the lives of two of the Beat Generation’s central figures,” said Ransom Center Director Thomas F. Staley. “This collection is an important addition to the Ransom Center’s holdings of Beat literature.”
Correspondence in the collection highlights Orlovsky’s many connections with other poets, authors and artists. There are more than 1,600 letters written to Orlovsky and/or Ginsberg, including 165 letters written by Ginsberg himself. Some notable correspondents include Gregory Corso, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Ken Kesey and Robert LaVigne. Orlovsky also wrote regularly to his parents and siblings, and more than 65 of his letters are included in the archive.
The collection features more than 2,650 photographs taken by or of Orlovsky, documenting the years between 1970 and 2010. Also included are eight reel-to-reel tapes from the 1960s and more than 120 audiocassettes made by Orlovsky during the 1970s and 1980s, some recording conversations with Ginsberg.
The Ransom Center’s collections represent many aspects of the Beat Generation, documenting the lives and work of William S. Burroughs, Neal Cassady, Corso, Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac.
The Orlovsky materials will be accessible once processed and cataloged. High-resolution press images are available.