Lawrence Ferlinghetti

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Lawrence Monsanto Ferlinghetti (Ferling)

Also Known As: "Lawrence Ferling Monsanto"
Birthplace: Yonkers, Westchester County, New York, United States
Death: February 22, 2021 (101)
his home, San Francisco, San Francisco County, California, United States ( a "degenerative lung disease")
Immediate Family:

Son of Charles Leopold Ferling and Clemence Albertine Ferling
Ex-husband of Selden “Kirby” Ferlinghetti
Father of Private and Private
Brother of Charles Aloysius Ferlinghetti; Clement Ferlinghetti; Henry J. “Harry” Ferling and Arthur Ferlinghetti

Occupation: Poet, activist, essayist, painter, bookstore owner, publisher
Managed by: Erica Howton
Last Updated:

About Lawrence Ferlinghetti

Lawrence Monsanto Ferlinghetti (March 24, 1919 – February 22, 2021) was an American poet, painter, social activist, and the co-founder of City Lights Booksellers & Publishers.[2] He was the author of poetry, translations, fiction, theatre, art criticism, and film narration. Ferlinghetti was best known for his first collection of poems, “A Coney Island of the Mind” (1958), which has been translated into nine languages, with sales of more than one million copies.[3] Ferlinghetti turned 100 in March 2019, leading the city of San Francisco to proclaim his birthday, March 24, "Lawrence Ferlinghetti Day".[4]


  • Parents: Charles Ferling, born as Carlo Ferlinghetti, of Brescia, Italy; and Clemence Mendes-Monsanto, of New York City
  • Informal foster parents: Emily Mendez-Monsanto, Ludovic Mendez-Monsanto, Pressley and Anna Bisland
  • Siblings: Charles Ferlinghetti Jr., Clement Ferlinghetti, Henry Ferling, Arthur Ferlinghetti
  • Spouse: Selden Kirby-Smith, known as Kirby; married 1951, divorced 1976
  • Children: Julie, Lorenzo


  • b. March 24, 1919, Yonkers, New York.
  • lived in France until the age of 5
  • began writing poetry in the late 1920's
  • got caught stealing pencils from the Five and Ten Cent Store the same month he made Eagle Scout
  • member of the "Parkway Road Pirates" gang
  • introduced to Baudelair by Sally Bisland
  • University of North Carolina, AB 1941
  • Columbia University, MA 1947
  • Sorbonne, Univerite' de Paris, Doctorate de l'Universite' With Honors 1949
  • dissertation entitled: 'The City as Symbol in Modern Poetry: In Search of a Metropolitan Tradition'
  • with Peter Martin, the publisher of City Lights magazine, opened City Lights bookstore in San Francisco's North Beach, 1953
  • published Allen Ginsberg's Howl in 1956
  • m. Selden Kirby-Smith April 1951 (divorced)
  • politics: "Now an enemy of the State."
  • religion: "Catholique manque'"
  • military service: Lieutenant Commander US Navy; was commanding officer during the Normandy invasion; arrived in Nagasaki shortly after the atomic bomb was dropped


Ferlinghetti published many of the Beat poets and is considered by some as a Beat poet as well.[11] Yet Ferlinghetti does not consider himself to be a Beat poet, as he says in the 2013 documentary Ferlinghetti: Rebirth of Wonder: "Don't call me a Beat. I was never a Beat poet."[11]

If you would be a poet, create works capable of answering the challenge of apocalyptic times, even if this meaning sounds apocalyptic. You are Whitman, you are Poe, you are Mark Twain, you are Emily Dickinson and Edna St. Vincent Millay, you are Neruda and Mayakovsky and Pasolini, you are an American or a non-American, you can conquer the conquerors with words. ...

— Lawrence Ferlinghetti. From Poetry as Insurgent Art I am signaling you through the flames.


  •, "Lawrence Ferlinghetti Biography". Retrieved February 23, 2021. link, PoetryFoundation, prabook, Susan L. Ivey. An Analysis of the Holdings of Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s Published Works, 1955- 1975, in the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Rare Book Collection. A Master’s paper for the M.S. in L.S. degree. July, 2013. 67 pages. Link, “Encyclopedia of Beat Literature.” By Kurt Hemmer. Page 98 - 101. GoogleBooks, “Lawrence Ferlinghetti's indelible image.” SUNDAY PROFILE./ Lawrence Ferlinghetti. Updated: Sep. 24, 2012 link , ”Ferlinghetti: Rebel and Bohemian.” The Los Angeles Times , Los Angeles, California 03 Oct 1979, Wed  •  Page 93 link, “Ferlinghetti Street”, The Californian Temecula, California 13 May 1993, Thu  •  Page 2,, “Literary Legend: An enduring icon of the Beat Generation, 90-year-old poet, artist and City Lights co-founder Lawrence Ferlinghetti reflects on literary uprisings—past, present and future.” Writers Digest interview, by Zachary Petit. January 2010.PDF, “Beat Bios: Lawrence Ferlinghetti”, “ A surprising poet came from this Westchester village”


  • Brown, Emma (February 23, 2021). "Lawrence Ferlinghetti, literary citadel of San Francisco, dies at 101". The Washington Post. Retrieved February 23, 2021. link, “Lawrence Ferlinghetti, poet and titan of the Beat era, dies at 101.” FEB. 23, 2021 link, “ Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Beat Poet And Small-Press Publisher, Dies At 101” February 23, 2021 Heard on “All Things Considered“, “ Lawrence Ferlinghetti, poet and titan of the Beat era, dies at 101.”, Feb. 23, 2021 link

Genealogical records

  • Lawrence Ferlinghetti In 1920 United States Federal Census MyHeritage, “United States Census, 1920", database with images, FamilySearch ( : 2 February 2021), Lawrence Ferlinghetti in entry for Clemence Ferlinghetti, 1920.
  • Lawrence Ferling U.S., World War II Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947 AncestryImage[Lawrence Ferlinghetti ] Lawrence Ferling Gender Male Race White Age 21,Relationship to Draftee Self (Head) Birth Date 24 Mar 1919 Birth Place Yonkers, New York, USA Residence Place Chapel Hill, Orange, North Carolina, USA Registration Date 16 Oct 1940 Registration Place Chapel Hill, Orange, North Carolina, USA Household Members 2
  • Lawrence Ferling In Ellis Island and Other New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957 MyHeritage Lawrence Ferling. Gender Male Birth Circa 1919 New York Arrival 1950 New York, New York, United States Ship Liberte Age 31 Line 7
  • Florida Marriages, 1830-1993," database with images, FamilySearch ( : 22 February 2021), Lawrence Ferling and Selden Kirby-Smith, 9 Apr 1951; citing Marriage, Duval, Florida, United States, citing multiple County Clerks of Court, Florida; FHL microfilm 2,109,952.
  • "California Divorce Index, 1966-1984," database, FamilySearch ( : 15 May 2014), Selden Kirbysmith and Lawrence M Ferlinghett, Aug 1972; from "California Divorce Index, 1966-1984," database and images, Ancestry ( : 2007); citing Marin, California, Health Statistics, California Department of Health Services, Sacramento.
  • ethnicelebs, Monsanto family tree, Ferlinghetti origins, FamilySearch
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Lawrence Ferlinghetti's Timeline

March 24, 1919
Yonkers, Westchester County, New York, United States
February 22, 2021
Age 101
San Francisco, San Francisco County, California, United States