Henry Charles Bukowski Biographical Time Line


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  • Charles was born in Andernach, Germany in 1920 to Henry and Katharina Bukowski. Henry Sr. was an American soldier and Katharina was a German native.
  • In 1923, the three person family moved to Baltimore, Maryland following the collapse of Germany following World War I.
  • In 1930, the family moved to Los Angeles where his father's family had originated.
  • During Bukowski's childhood, his father was often unemployed and would often abuse Charles both physically and emotionally. Bukowski later said that this abuse inspired him, showing him what pain was all about.
  • In his teens, Bukowski was very shy and socially awkward. He suffered from extreme acne that later turned into scars. Kids he knew also made fun of his German accent and German clothes he was forced to wear.

  • Charles first began to write when he was thirteen years old, as he "just found a pencil and started writing and filled this notebook full of words."
  • Also in his teens, he was introduced to alcohol for the first time by his friend "Baldy". Over time, Bukowski would become a chronic alcoholic.
  • After graduating high school, "Hank" as he was known, attended Los Angeles City College for two years as he studied journalism, literature, and art. He later said that he skipped most of his classes, and would often just lie in the grass on campus.
  • In 1944 Hank was arrested in Philadelphia on draft evasion charges. He was held for seventeen days before eventually failing a psychological exam and being exempted from the draft.
  • Hank said he got "his first piece of ass" when he was twenty-four. She was a "300 pound whore" who broke the bed and who hank accused of stealing his wallet. He later found the wallet after screaming at her and kicking her out.
  • Also at twenty-four, his first short story was published, "Aftermath of a Lengthy Rejection Slip."
  • Bukowski spent much of the 1940's roaming the country, eventually ending up in Florida because he wanted to be as far away from his father as possible.
  • Bukowski became discouraged from his lack of success and quit writing for almost a decade. He referred to this time as a "ten year drunk."
  • In the early 1950's, Hank took a job at the post office as a fill-in letter carrier. Although he despised this job, he kept it for three years.
  • In 1955 Bukowski was treated for a near fatal ulcer, and the doctor told him if he had one more drink he would die. Hank kept drinking and went on to live for close to forty years.
  • After his release from the hospital, Hank began writing poetry for the first time.
  • In 1957, Hank married a woman he'd never seen before, a small-town poet named Barbara Frye. They were both lonely and only communicated through letters until their marriage. They divorced in 1959.
  • In the 1960's, Bukowski went back to working at the post office for nearly a decade. He kept writing and had a small portion of poetry published in different magazines.
  • In 1964, Hank's only daughter, Marina, was born to Hank and his then girlfriend, Frances Smith, whom he wrote the poem "One For Old Snaggletooth" for.
  • In 1969, Hank accepted an offer from Black Sparrow Press publisher John Martin, and finally quit the job he hated so much to dedicate himself to writing full-time. He explained "I have one of two choices — stay in the post office and go crazy ... or stay out here and play at writer and starve. I have decided to starve."
  • Bukowski then wrote a novel entitled Post Office in 1971, after being convinced by John Martin that it would sell better than poetry books. In 1975, he wrote his second novel, Factotum based on his alter ego, Henri Chinaski.
  • In 1976, Bukowski met Linda Lee Beighle, who he eventually married in 1982. She was credited for saving his life by getting him out of Los Angeles and moving to San Pedro. Still an alcoholic though, Hank took out some anger on Linda. She was referred to as "Sara" in Bukowski's novels Women and Hollywood.










  • In 1977, Hank released probably his most famous book of poetry Love is a Dog From Hell.


  • Also in 1982, Hank's novel Ham on Rye was published, depicting his life as a child abused by his father. This was also based on his alter ego, Henri Chinaski.

  • In 1987, the movie Barfly was released starring Mickey Rourke that was based on Bukowski and in which Bukowski wrote the auto-biographical screenplay. Hank was really disappointed how the movie turned out, and specifically how exaggerated Rourke's portrayal of him was.











  • Hank's experience making "Barfly" inspired him to write another novel entitled Hollywood. This was about how he found out Hollywood was even more stupid and more full of shit than he thought.
  • In 1988, Hank contracted tuberculosis and lost sixty pounds. He drank no alcohol for several months, and after recovering he rarely engaged in heavy drinking again.
  • In March 1993, Hank was Diagnosed with leukemia. He battled the disease for a year before finally passing away.


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