Controversial Charles Bukowski Archive Donated to Refined California Museum

The genteel Huntington Library, which contains the rare documents by the likes of Chaucer and Dickens, is to house the gritty literary collection of author Charles Bukowski.

Bukowski's widow on Wednesday announced that she was donating her late husband's chronicles of the hard-drinking, bar-brawling life in Los Angeles' underbelly to the museum.

"It's going to be scandalous. This would tickle my husband. It would crack him up," Linda Lee Bukowski said.

Bukowski, who died of leukemia at age 73 in 1994, emerged late in life from L.A.'s underground to become an internationally renowned author and an iconic cultural figure.

The archive of more than a thousand items — some of it peppered with sex, violence and alcohol abuse — includes a typed draft of his 1982 novel "Ham on Rye," with handwritten corrections; his screenplay for the 1987 autobiographical movie "Barfly;" rare poetry journals from the 1940s; and scratch forms for horse races.

Experts said the collection could have sold for more than US$1 million (euro800,000). Other institutions wanted the collection, but Bukowski's widow said she donated it to the Huntington because she frequently visits the library.

Huntington officials said they are thrilled to have the material.

"Bukowski pushes the envelope a little for us. And I love that," said Sue Hodson, the Huntington's curator of literary manuscripts.

Bukowski's published works of fiction, poetry and short story collections include "Post Office," "Septuagenarian Stew," "Notes of a Dirty Old Man," "Women" and "Factotum," which has been made into a film starring Matt Dillon being released worldwide this year.