He was born March 24, 1919 in Yonkers, New York. Lawrence Ferlinghetti received a BA from the University of North Carolina (1941), an MA from Columbia University (1948), and the Doctorate from the University Sorbonne in Paris (1950). He himself became a part of the metropolitan tradition when he moved from Paris to San Francisco, where he discovered the Beat Generation (Lit Kicks).
Ferlinghetti and Peter Martin started a magazine there called 'City Lights,' named after the Charlie Chaplin movie. He and Martin established their offices on the second floor of a building on Broadway and Columbus in North Beach. They decided to open a bookstore on the floor below as a side venture, naming it after the magazine. The City Lights Bookstore became one of the most famous bookstores in the world, and still stands proudly in its original location (Lit Kicks) (Rook Net).
Being a businessman and a poet, he began publishing original books by himself and others under the name City Lights; the most renowned books are the 'Pocket Poets Series.'
The idea of Pocket Poets was to make poetry books easily affordable, and the small paperbacks are still a common sight today. Ferlinghetti published Allen Ginsberg's 'Howl' as Pocket Poets Number Four, and was tried on obscenity charges for this. He was found innocent, which was a significant victory for the freedom of speech, as well as the Beat Generation at that time in San Francisco (EBSCO).
In the early 60's Ferlinghetti owned a rustic cabin in Bixby Canyon, Big Sur that was the subject of Jack Kerouac's 1962 novel 'Big Sur.' Ferlinghetti emerges in the book as Lorenzo Monsanto, who urges the drunken celebrity author Kerouac to go on a nature retreat to stop drinking, with terrible results, this was the first time...