We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

Who is Allen Ginsberg?

By Bronwyn Harris
Updated May 23, 2024
Our promise to you
PublicPeople is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At PublicPeople, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Allen Ginsberg is known for his poems, his homosexuality, his book Howl, his political views, and his FBI file, among many other things. Born on 3 June 1926 in Newark, New Jersey, Ginsberg couldn't have had parents who were more different. His father, Louis Ginsberg, taught high school, while his mother, Naomi Ginsberg, was a nudist, paranoid schizophrenic, and — what was worse in those days — a Communist.

Naomi Ginsberg had a great affect, for better or worse, on her son. When Allen Ginsberg was about nine years old, he began to care for his mother while she spent time in and out of psychiatric hospitals. Her paranoia was great enough that she both refused to believe that Allen was her son and claimed that the FBI had implanted mind control devices in her brain. Allen Ginsberg followed the advice of a psychiatrist when he was 21 years old and authorized his mother's lobotomy. He felt guilty about this for long after her death in 1956.

When Allen Ginsberg was in high school, he seemed to be a model, All-American boy. He did well academically and was president of his school's debate club. His father sent Allen to Columbia, hoping that his son would become a lawyer. However, in college, Allen Ginsberg met William Burroughs and Jack Kerouac, two men who were soon to become lifelong friends of his as well as fellow Beat poets. With Burroughs and Kerouac, Ginsberg explored the subculture of New York, discovering drugs, jazz, poetry, and his homosexuality.

After graduating from Columbia, Ginsberg held a variety of different jobs and had unsuccessful relationships with various other men in the Beat lifestyle. Frequently depressed, he joined the Merchant Marines. However, when he was caught in a stolen car with his roommate, he was sent to a mental hospital for eight months. There he met Carl Solomon, to whom he dedicated Howl. Ginsberg spent his time in the hospital reading and writing.

In his early thirties, after spending some time in Mexico, Allen Ginsberg quit his paying job to write full-time. He wrote Howl, a free verse that was shocking for the time, including many statements about the problems in America, as well as references to drugs and sex. Howl became a best-seller, while also bringing Ginsberg and the manager of City Lights bookstore, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, to court on obscenity charges. The judge ruled that Howl was “of redeeming social importance,” and Ginsberg became famous almost overnight.

Although Ginsberg was initially known for his two books — Howl and Kaddish and Other Poems — he soon become of great interest to the FBI. The FBI had a detailed file on Allen Ginsberg — but they were not the only institution that worried about him. Ginsberg was thrown out of both Cuba and Czechoslovakia in 1965 for different reasons.

Ginsberg remained active in his writing and political efforts until the end of his life. In 1974, his collection of poems entitled The Fall of America won the National Book Award, and later, the photographs he had taken of his friends in the Beat movement were published. In the late 1970s, Ginsberg embraced the teaching of a Tibetan lama named Chogyam Trungpa. Trungpa convinced Ginsberg to give up his drugs and practice yoga and meditation. Allen Ginsberg died in 1997 of liver cancer, after Howl had been reprinted over fifty times.

PublicPeople is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

PublicPeople, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

PublicPeople, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.