Charles Bukowski, born in 1920, began writing at a young age and was first published in the 1940s. Then Bukowksi gave up writing for the world of work and bars, not publishing, not writing, so the myth goes, for nearly twenty years. Ten of those years were spent roaming from odd job to odd roominghouse from the East coast to the West. The other ten years, Bukowski worked for the United States Postal Service in Los Angeles, a job that took no effort except for the strength to show up and the patience to perform mindless operations. During that time, his life bordered on insanity and death, two prevalent themes in his writing. According to his own myth making, Bukowski returned to writing the day that he quit the Postal Service, but his bibliography shows that indeed, he had been publishing several years before that.
Bukowksi's first generally recognized publication date is in the 1960s, yet citations from the early 60s exist in Sanford Dorbin's early bibliography, and The Roominghouse Madrigals prints poems from the late 40s.
The fact is that Bukowski has published extensively in various small literary publications for over thirty years. These publications exist in small numbers and are difficult if not impossible to find. Fortunately, John Martin of Black Sparrow Press has managed to cull together these poems and stories over several collections, until catching up with his contemporary writings in the 80s.
In total, there are over forty books in print written by Bukowski. Since his death on March 9, 1994, a growing number of books deal with Bukowski as a critical source and literary legend.
Although Bukowski was never truly associated with Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, or other major Beat writers, his informal style and non-conforming literary approach has endeared him to readers of the Beat genre.