1957 October 3

You Can Read “Howl”– Publisher Acquitted of Obscenity Charges


Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Shigeyoshi Murao were acquitted of obscenity charges in San Francisco on this day for having published Allen Ginsberg’s now-famous poem, Howl.  The poem is now widely regarded as one of the great American poems, and also the classic statement of the 1950s Beat Generation. Ferlinghetti was the publisher of the poem and also the founder/owner of City Lights Books store, a now famous independent book store in San Francisco. Murau was his assistant. They had been arrested on June 3, 1957 for publishing the poem.

Ginsburg first read Howl publicly on October 6, 1955. And on March 25, 1957 U.S. Customs seized copies of the poem that had been printed in England and were being imported into the U.S.

The City Lights Bookstore is still selling books in San Francisco, and has been designated a historical landmark in the city. Ferlinghetti, moreover, is himself an acclaimed Beat Generation poet.

Hear Ginsberg reading Howl: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MVGoY9gom50

Learn more about the great poet: Bill Morgan, I Celebrate Myself: The Somewhat Private Life of Allen Ginsberg (2006)

Visit City Lights Bookstore: http://www.citylights.com/

Read about the case: J. W. Ehrlich, Howl of the Censor (1961)

Visit the Beat Museum in San Francisco: http://www.kerouac.com/

See Ferlinghetti with his attorney, Lawrence Speiser of the ACLU of Northern California: http://www.flickr.com/photos/wtafsite/3976576112/

Find a Day

Abortion Rights ACLU african-americans Alice Paul anti-communism Anti-Communist Hysteria Birth Control Brown v. Board of Education Censorship CIA Civil Rights Civil Rights Act of 1964 Cold War Espionage Act FBI First Amendment Fourteenth Amendment freedom of speech Free Speech Gay Rights Hate Speech homosexuality Hoover, J. Edgar HUAC Japanese American Internment King, Dr. Martin Luther Ku Klux Klan Labor Unions Lesbian and Gay Rights Loyalty Oaths McCarthy, Sen. Joe New York Times Obscenity Police Misconduct Same-Sex Marriage Separation of Church and State Sex Discrimination Smith Act Spying Spying on Americans Vietnam War Voting Rights Voting Rights Act of 1965 War on Terror Watergate White House Women's Rights Women's Suffrage World War I World War II Relocation Camps


Tell Us What You Think

We want to hear your comments, criticisms and suggestions!