Jean-Jacques Lebel - The Beat Hotel Years

The Beat Hotel Years

Ernest Hilbert on The Beat Hotel by Barry Miles (Grove Press)



The byronic images and locales of La Boheme, Giacomo Puccini’s depiction of classically starving artists in Paris’s Latin Quarter, have come to dominate portrayals of young artists, writers, and singers: whiskered rogues in whose unwashed ears the muses whisper. This is too picturesque to be believed, but it is, perhaps not so surprisingly, frequently the case, as much in the outer boroughs of New York City today as Paris of 1880. With the Beatniks, who made a universal event of bohemian activity, this sensibility was magnified tenfold in the Paris of the 1950s and early 60s. Barry Miles, the Boswell of the group, returns with yet another tale of Beatnik idealism and legendary misbehavior.
Miles believes that the Beat Hotel, located fittingly in Paris’s Latin Quarter, is as important a geographic locus of Beat literature as Haight Ashbury and the West Village before it. By all accounts it was Gregory Corso who first referred to 9 rue Git-le-Cœur as the Beat Hotel, pointing some young hipsters back there to meet Allen Ginsberg, the already well-known author of Howl. The Beats were drawn there for its low rents as much as its insouciant artistic milieu. Madame Rachou, the hotel’s matron, enjoyed having artists in the hotel and was very permissive, so long as overnight guests signed the register, a perfunctory police regulation. 9 rue Git-le-Cœur was classified as the lowest grade of hotel by the French government, which meant that it merely had to maintain the simplest of ordinances and was otherwise left alone. Rats scurried through the halls and eminent editors turned back in their quests to locate the Beats after slipping on dog shit in the stairwells. Many of the walls were almost literally paper-thin. The inhabitants of multiple floors shared, sometimes reluctantly, a single bathroom (usually daubed with urine and vomit), and some rooms had a very low-voltage outlet (use of a hotplate, for instance, would often blow the fuse for the whole floor). Patrons came and went at will, so long as they were paid up. Madame Rachou accepted canvases and manuscripts in lieu of rent but rarely kept them, as she was certain that they were valueless (it is likely that she innocently discarded an accumulation that today would be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars). Three of the principal four Beat authors enjoyed prolific periods at the hotel. William Burroughs, who spent the most time there, was at first reluctant to move from Tangiers, where pliant Arab boys and stupefacient powders were inexpensive and licit. Gregory Corso, the most theatrically poetic and bohemian of the group, relied on it as a base camp for his travels through Europe. Allen Ginsberg, certainly the most famous Beatnik in the world at the time (Jack Keruoac had not yet published On the Road when the Beat Hotel was christened) was feted by moneyed Europeans and thronged by disciples, lecturing his many guests on the ways and hopes of the Beat movement. It was in the hotel that the triumvirate of Ginsberg, Corso, and Peter Orlovsky devised their scheme for the “international Love Brain”, which would be brought about once sexual promiscuity of unprecedented levels dispersed “love” across all borders, thus annulling jurisdictions and nations (this sort of thinking had forceful influence on the following generation of hippies). The Beats, undoubtedly the most enduringly peripatetic literary movement in American history, treated 9 Git-le-Cœur in several ways: first as a bohemian refuge from American drug laws and claustrophobic sexual climate; second as a party den (an aesthete’s fraternity house of sorts); and third as factory and headquarters. There is little question that the three spent a great deal of time writing while there, and this is the real reason that it is of interest (they could have gotten high and laid anywhere, and did). Arts patrons and literati who sought them out expecting to witness a reenactment of the gilded Paris of Gertrude Stein, Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and James Joyce were distressed to find instead a decidedly unsartorial group that sometimes went days without eating and was nearly always drunk or stoned.

GinsbergNonetheless, Allen Ginsberg wrote some of his better poems there, including “To Aunt Rose,” “At Apollinaire’s Grave” (he left a copy of HOWL and Other Poems on the grave for Apollinaire “to read in heaven”), and an early draft of what would become the fifth section of his best long poem, “Kaddish.” Gregory Corso wrote “Marriage” and “Bomb” there, as well as most of the other poems that wound up in his most popular collection, The Happy Birthday of Death (still available after twelve printings). Burroughs arranged and edited Naked Lunch (formerly Interzone and then The Naked Lunch) while there. In fact, in the latter days of the hotel, Burroughs spent long hours nearly every day, despite a sometimes crippling addition to various opiates, working on his radical reformulation of language and compositional technique, which he termed “cut-ups,” and later the audio extension of these experiments, “cut-ins,” with Brion Gyson.

They were, by standards then and now, a feral band. They managed to get themselves into ample trouble, and often they seem to have been deliberately glib and vulgar, posing for the international news media (the Parisians resolutely ignored them; they had seen more compelling artistic movements). France had by the late 1950s sunk into a vicious internal conflict over the Algerian bid for independence, with the colonial (known as “colons”) determination to retain the territory under French authority. The colonial position was sanctioned and actively supported by the military, creating a debilitating impasse. The gendarmes had little time to bother with a few shabby American expatriates with a penchant for boys and heroin. There is no dearth of lewd anecdotes extending from this period of expatriation, and Barry Miles has no interest in holding any back; these stories are, after all, the warp and woof of the generation’s legacy. Ginsberg emerges as a very intelligent, if emotionally precarious, poet with considerable ambition, taking advantage of the publicity occasioned by the San Francisco obscenity trial for his first book, HOWL and Other Poems (during which he was conspicuously absent). Deluged with correspondence from overeager acquaintances and remote followers, Ginsberg complained that he rarely had time to write poetry (this condition would persist to the end of his life). LeRoi Jones (Amiri Baraka’s given name) posted a letter to Ginsberg on toilet paper, asking him to contribute to his new literary magazine; Ginsberg replied, suggesting a number of potential contributors, on French toilet paper, which Jones remarked was far more sturdy and better for writing. Ginsberg very actively proclaimed the putative genius of his friends (and loves), and was responsible for most of the Beat literature that found its way into print (he successfully lobbied for Keruoac’s first book Town and Country with Harcourt Brace, Burroughs’s first book Junkie with Ace Books, and Corso’s second collection Gasoline with Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s City Lights Books). One could successfully argue that there wouldn’t have been a Beat generation if it hadn’t been for the emissarial efforts of Ginsberg, who, despite his iconic pre-hippie façade, was a very capable editor and critic, even if his judgment was sometimes fogged by his unswerving dedication to his friends.

beathotel1It is also during this period that Time-Life increased its love-hate engagement with the constantly self-publicizing Beats. Whatever the merits of their art, they made great copy and scared straight America out of all proportion to their actual activities (J. Edgar Hoover once named Beatniks one of the top-three threats to American national security). Ginsberg was very literary, and he made much of his time in Paris, visiting gravesites and museums, frequenting clubs and cafés, wandering the labyrinthine medieval streets of Paris’s Left Bank. He, along with Gregory, who was always out for kicks when not pursuing women in the Parisian night, would smoke hashish and visit the Louvre or stare at gargoyles at Notre Dame.

Although he spent a short time in Paris en route to New York from Tangiers with an early version of Burroughs’s Naked Lunch in his knapsack for a potential French publisher, Keruoac never felt entirely at ease away from his native hangouts and, after the publication of On the Road, rarely ventured far from his mother’s Cape Cod home (readers often forget that the laureled bard of the open road spent most of his time drinking beer in his mom’s living room). He admitted that while among the narrow European streets he longed for Wheaties and the household aroma of pine cleaner in the American morning.
Gregory Corso, who threw himself with glee into the uninhibited Beat lifestyle in Paris, considered himself a poet in the classical sense, as touched by the muse and insulated, in a saintly way, from society at large. He lived primarily on the largesse of young women, usually of good family, who supported his various romps and jaunts around the continent. He once told Art Buchwald in an interview for The Herald Tribune: “I get money from girls. Everytime [sic] I meet a girl I ask her how much money she has and then I demand half of it. I’m not doing anything wrong with money. I just use it to buy food.” He inhabited the attic room of the hotel and strolled the boulevards with cane and cape, declaring himself a poet (at a Joan Miro opening, he shouted to Picasso “I am starving. I am starving” before being removed from the room). He lived the eccentric and generally squalid life that he and others believed suited a poet, with dingy garret, Shelleyan garb, pockets empty save for poems, and presumptuous belief that he, being gifted with the wings of poesy, should be permitted to do pretty much whatever he liked whenever he liked. While they may have caused a great deal of loathing and even fist-fights at the time, his exploits are amusing to recount.

beathotel4William Burroughs, the elder of the group by more than a decade, is, without question, the most inexplicable and mysterious member of the Beats. He undertook his most important work while at the hotel. It is there that the bizarre Routines, originally written into letters to Ginsberg (with whom Burroughs was at that time infatuated), were revised and arranged into the manuscript of Naked Lunch for littérateur and pornographer Maurice Girodias’s Olympia Press, which published primarily DBs, dirty books (usually written by quite literary, if impecunious, figures such as Guillaume Apollinaire). Girodias only agreed to publish the book after the scandal it produced in culturally-hidebound Chicago, where several chapters intended for the Chicago Review were suppressed and then later seized when published in the magazine Big Table (although he had nothing to do with the publication itself, the name of the magazine was Keruoac’s; when petitioned for a suggestion, he glanced around his desk and saw a note to himself reading “buy big table”). Burroughs also first began with the technique of cut-ups and fold-ins at the hotel. Along with a small group of other authors, he developed a method of composition that incorporated an element of chance with an almost painterly degree of relational deliberation: sections from a newspaper or book would be cut apart and rearranged to “get at” the hidden meanings behind the original syntax. Burroughs approached this system with a gravity approaching that of science or occultism, both of which appealed to him (John Ashbery, who lived in Paris during the Beats’ stay there, applied the technique of cut-ups and collage in his most difficult and critically-disputed book, The Tennis-Court Oath; despite this affiliation of technique, there is no record of Ashbery having encountered any of the Beats). His second novel, The Soft Machine, was also written (assembled) in this manner and published by Olympia while he was at the hotel (though he was forced to make it more accessible for American publication by Barney Rossett’s Grove Press).

beathotel3Brion Gyson’s experiments with visually-stimulated alpha brain wave manipulation took place at the hotel as well, resulting in his creation the Dreammachine (a device consisting of a band with exposures revolving around a light at a speed between eight and thirteen times per second in order to excite dream-waves). The second half of the hotel’s existence as Beat center of operations, after Ginsberg returned to New York to enjoy his celebrity, is centered on the collaborative work of Burroughs and Gyson, with some attention give to their co-conspirators, Cambridge mathematics undergraduate (and Burroughs’s paramour) Ian Sommerville and South African poet Sinclair Beiles, who went mad not long after indulging in the reintegrative (and at times disintegrative) endeavor of cut-ups (Burroughs attributed Beiles’s insanity directly to revelations issuing from his cut-ups). These “experiments” continued until the hotel’s closing in the spring of 1963.

Much as David Lehman’s friendship with members of the New York School poets attributed greatly to the authority of his The Last Avant Garde, Barry Miles had the good fortune to have known many of the Beats personally and so has been able to make use of privately recorded interviews and even bits of personal conversation. His association also provided him with unprecedented access to manuscripts and other artifacts. Though the Beat Hotel period predates his involvement with the Beats, he resides in France and is qualified where matters of geography and French language are concerned. Though he falls prey to some of the myth-making that so often clouds hagiographies of the Beats, this is actually a benefit in the case of The Beat Hotel, as it mirrors the boyish hyperbole with which the Beats approached their surroundings and themselves (the book, being a history, is, however, in drastic need of an index). Miles’s intimate history is also attractive for its coverage of the brief contact the Beats had with other figures of artistic importance, such as W.H. Auden, Günter Grass, and Marcel Duchamp. These meetings are fascinating, and they throw the conduct and aspirations of the Beats into relief against a broader historical canvas. Like Miles’s other books, his biographies of Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, and William Burroughs, The Beat Hotel rewards those seeking the clamorous ghosts of America’s most famous prodigal sons in all their exilic glory and unpolished beauty.



Gallery Package - Beat Hotel

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American Poets<br>Allen Ginsberg & Peter Orlovsky<br>December 1956

Piero Heliczer, poet of the 'Dead Language Press, visiting the hotel for a free haircut.

'Dawn: watercress sold out. Empty baskets litter the roadway in ront of a pavilion.'<br><br>Taken from 'The Beats à Paris', Harold Chapman.<br>1957-1963

'Cyclops Lester retuning from work in his brown leather flea market coat.'<br><br>Taken from 'The Beat Hotel'.<br>Harold Chapman photographs.

Gregory Corso <br>Paris 1957<br>

Gregory Corso <br>Paris 1957<br>

William Burroughs in the Beat Hotel, Paris, France. 1958. Photo by Harold Chapman.

William S Burroughs - Beat Hotel, Paris, 1960s

Brion Gysin, American poet, writer and painter. He met William Burroughs in Tangier, and through him, Ian Sommerville.<br><br><br>

Early morning at Le Royal: local people drinking coffee at the circular 'zinc' before going to work.

The Left Bank, December 1956.The restaurant L'Alsace a<br>Paris at 2.00am in the Place St Andre-des-Arts.<br>.

Bob Grosvenor and Verta Kali Smart. January 1958

The 'terrasse' of theTabac St-Michel was one of the favourite meeting places of people from the Beat Hotel. L to r:Cyclops Lester, Thomas Neurath, Thelma Shumsky.

Alex Campbell relaxing in the Monaco Bar, which was popular with the Beats...'My advice to the young men of Britain is, give up your job, come to Paris with old Campbell and live a life of Guts, Sex, Sin, Literature, Arts'.<br>Before devaluation of the franc, the prices of drinks were painted underneath saucers, and with each drink one oredered, another saucer was added to the pile.

Cafe le Royal in the heart of St.Germain-des-Pres was the nightly meeting place of artists and homosexuals...'Blade-sharp hustlers. Gray old fag swindle...<br>Sweeping coiffures, every dyed hair counted, every advantage price-tagged'... Harold Norse wrote of Le Royal in 'Residu', spring 1965.

Corso, in Jack Kerouac's book, 'Desolation Angels', was called 'Raphael Urso'. Kerouac spent a night in Room 41 and wrote of the experience;...'as I lay there on the floor he makes love to Nanette all night, as she whimpers'....

Verta Kali Smart from Philadelphia and Bob Grosvenor in Room 9. January 1958.<br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br>

Jean Swanson with experimental hairstyle.

Bob Grosvenor with tuba, 'Pug' with guitar, and Verta Kali<br>Smart in headscarf. 1958.

The main entrance of the hotel. The door, which was never locked, made a penetrating screech as it crashed shut, the sound of which could be heard on the top floor. Attempts to shut the door quietly would bring Madame Rachou out of her room to investigate, and, in the words of Harold Norse, she would, at night, 'suddenly materialize, whitegowned and <br>stonefaced'.

The cafe door.

Diane Barker and Mirtaud. The only room with a view of St.<br>Chapelle was 41,which was much sought after by artists and<br>writers for its quietness and good light.

Between each landing, on the spiral staircase, was a Turkish<br>lavatory. Telephone directories served as toilet paper.

Leo in Room 38 of the Beat Hotel

Room 32. Mirja, photographic model from Finland. 1963

Beat Hotel Room 32. Mirja, from Finland; the favourite<br>model of many Left Bank photographers. 1963

Room 34. Notice for casual work, painting and plastering at a Polyclinic in Paris.

Room 32. (Harold's) I found my alarm clock in perfect working order on the top of a dustbin. All the books were <br>gifts from departing residents.<br>

'Kaja' poet,writer and painter from New Orleans. One evening she came to Room 29 and asked:'Do you want to photograph the face of suffering?'

Barbara Shumsky in her room. She was a street-seller of the<br>'International Herald Tribune'.

Eyla with Mirtaud. Madame Rachou provided white wine for the occasion.

Not everybody was sociable; Room 6 was occupied by a Canadian recluse, who, like others in the hotel, would lock herself in her room.

Light Control Panel for each of the rooms in the Beat Hotel.<br>The bulb glowed dimly or brightly according to the amount of electricity beiing used.

Barbara Shumsky

Winter 1956. (Lto R) Alex Campbell; William Guthrie, the painter.Dixie Nimmo writes of artists in the hotel; ' They rent for a few francs a day bare rooms smelliing of dust and Gauloises.'

William Guthrie. Winter 1956

A mural with a World War 1 army-slang expression. People<br>could paint on the walls,decorate their rooms and have their own furniture.

Verta Kali Smart in a dress which she made, playing an African piano of flattened bicycle spokes, called an 'N'goma'. Behind her is one of Bob's paintings.Jan 1958

Madame Rachou, the 'patronne' of 9, Rue Git-le-Coeur,described by William Burroughs as the 'perfect<br>landlady' with 'inflexible authority'.

Thelma Shumsky, who later became my wife.

Keith in Rue Git-le-Coeur

Almost but not quite! These 2 sharp-eyed nuns spotted us before we could carry out our plan. Gregory Corso turned away,embarassed, but I still took the picture, even though it was unsuitable for his conceptual book, 'Church', for which he was collecting pictures of himself,behind nuns & monks, in the streets of Paris. Boulevard St-Michel spring 1957.

Marlene, from West Berlin, in the Tabac St-Michel

Bill Cheney from the USA; one of several photographers living in the Beat Hotel who did reportages. His lens ia a 300mm Novaflex Telephoto.

Two Beat Hotel residents outside the Post Office in Rue Danton. (l to r);Pip Rau, an English painter and Stella Tohl, an American,who was the editor's assistant of the magazine<br>'Birth' . 1960

Monsieur Dupres, the hotel cleaner, at the festival of Santa Lucia. He was often followed round the hotel by Mirtaud the cat, and an entourage of small children.

William Burroughs, 'Sherlock Holmes poker-faced impassive'...(Allen Ginsberg, in a letter to Peter Orlovsky). Young people would seek him out as their mentor and spend hours with him in the cafe.

The Dutch Painter, Guy Harloff, who had his studio in the hotel.

William Burroughs,outside the Beat Hotel. 1958

Gregory Corso in Room 41, the garret. Behind him, on the walls which he painted a sombre brown, are reproductions of old masters.Here, he wrote the poem 'Bomb', which was printed in the form of a mushroom cloud.

Brion Gysin,American poet, writer and painter. He met William Burroughs in Tangier, and through him, Ian Sommerville.

Brion Gysin with his Dream-Machine, in Room 25 where he lived from 1959 to 1964..<br>.

Whilst in the hotel, Burroughs worked on several novels including 'Naked Lunch' in Room 15, and 'Soft Machine'.<br>In his literary autobiography, he writes: 'In 1956 I went to London and took the apomorphine cure with Dr John Dent.<br>'Naked Lunch' would never have been written without Dr Dent's treatments.

William Burroughs in the Beat Hotel in Paris, 1960.

Piero Heliczer, poet of the 'Dead Language Press, visiting the hotel for a free haircut.

Thomas Neurath, son of Walter Neurath of Thames & Hudson, book publishers.In 1960, aged 19, he was living in the Beat Hotel and working for a publisher in Paris,before leaving to study at Cambridge University.

Diane Barker and American poet Angus Maclise

At Diane Barker's party, Belgian born Olivia de Haulleville, a poetess whose pseudonym was 'Om'.

William Burroughs,'Sherlock-Holmes poker faced impassive'...(Allen Ginsberg, in a letter to Peter Orlovsky.)<br>Youg people would seek him out as their mentor and spend hours with him in the cafe.

Chez Jean, in Boulevard St-Germain; one of the few restaurants in Paris that still had a thick layer of sawdust on the floor. The meal was cheap - 250 old francs (approx. 25p)<br>and itinerant musicians would entertain at night.

The cafe price list,after the devaluation of the franc. A black<br>coffee was 40 centimes. a large white coffee,55 centimes;<br>a small glass of red wine, 30 centimes; a Pernod, 1 franc.<br>

Sharon Walsh and Guy Harloff outside the hotel cafe.<br><br><br>

Art dealers came to the hotel offering to buy any walls with murals, but they had all been covered over with flowered wallpaper.

Brion Gysin, American poet, writer and painter. He met William Burroughs in Tangier, and through him, Ian Sommerville.<br><br><br>

Room 29. Jean-Marie Villanova and Ellen Silverman. two visitors having to share the only available chair. On the wall is a collage which I made after thenCuban Missile Crisis..

William Burroughs' hands, described by Anne Sharpley in 1963 as 'narrow red' hands, which are 'his only touch of colour'.<br><br><br>

Dominique's room.

Angry with journalists who called the hotel a 'flea-bag shrine', Harold Norse used their expression to prophesy;<br>'The flea-bag shrine will be documented by art historians'.

Thomas Neurath.

Gregory Corso behind a priest on the Ile da la Cite. Spring 1957

Gregory Corso, like myself, was a great nun-collector. In Place de Furstenberg, St. Germain-des-Pres, he stepped nimbly behind this Sister of the Sacred Heart. Sprinig 1957

The American poet, Allen Ginsberg, in front of a portrait of Arthur Rimbaud. Rimbaud, with Baudelaire, Lautreamont and later Artaud and Michaux, greatly influenced the Beats.<br>Christmas 1956

William Guthrie and painting. Winter 1956

Monsieur et Madame Laigle bought the hotel. Drawings like this were scraped off and painted over.<br>

Madame Rachou with Harold Norse.He asked me to take these pictures in January 1963, when,after 32 years, Mme Rachou &quotthe bluehaired old mother of us all", retired and moved to a flat nearby. The hotel had been sold, the handle of the cafe door had been removed, and a notice in the window read : &quotClosed fro alteration". The Beat Hotel had ceased to exist.<br>

View from Room 41.<br>

Madame Rachou, the 'patronne' of The Beat Hotel.<br>

Room 41. Myself and 'Cyclops' Lester, taken by delayed action release, with prints of Stella Benjamin and Gregory Corso.For a short time, I had an improvised dark room in an alcove no larger than a small wardrobe, blacked out with two blankets which I nailed up to the walls at night. I priinted with an enlarger bought in a flea market, which stood on a couple of orange crates nailed together.I washed my prints in the sink and hung them up to dry on a clothes-line in the room. My films were scraps given to me by a cine cameraman.

Room 41.Shumsky and her Swedish friend Gun, who both<br>helped to sell my Polaroid pictures in the cafes. The bed served as a sofa during the day.<br>

Harold Chapman, photographer and author of The Beat<br>Hotel. Paris 1960s.

Front of The Beat Hotel<br>

The street of The Beat Hotel.<br>

Kaja stored some of her paintings on the top landing, which was blocked by a folded mattress.

Kaja, in an interview with Dixie Nimmo, said; 'I came here to find artistic friendship and found only loneliness'.

View from the gabled window of Room 41. Washing could be hung out of windows at the back of the hotel.

In an interview in the hotel with Alain Jouffroy, Gregory Corso said...'we state openly in our work that we smoke marijuana.<br>But for us, marijuana is only of secondary importance. Poetry is the one essential thing'.<br>

The door of Room 41, marked by drawing-pins..

During my long stay in the hotel, I photographed several people who stayed in Room 40, the smallest room. With no table, one had to make do with knees at meal times.<br>

Room 40. Tom the Texan's typewriter.<br>

Eyla, a pin-up model for the French photographer Serge Jacques, poses for me at the top of the stairs, which was a favourite spot with photogrqphers for dramatic posed pictures.<br>

Dixie Nimmo and Kay Johnson - nom de plume - Kaja - outside the two top rooms, 40 and 41. Behind them is one of Kaja's paintings.


John Hammer avoids banging his head in the groove on the ceiling, formed by many less fortunate than him.

Room 38. Liza Ames, Dixie's American wife.<br>l

Room 38. Dixie Nimmo and Liza Ames' 'kitchen' had two alcohol cookers and a camping gaz stove, which were the most practical means of cooking in the hotel.<br>

Room 38. Dixie Nimmo, West Indian poet and novelist. On the walls is part of his large art collection.<br>

Room 38. 'Tea-time' in the Beat hotel. The large painting on the wall is by Mike Blake. Dixie Nimmo and Liza Ames kept <br>'open house' for young artisis and writers.<br>

Room 32. Uta, a German model, resting during a photographic session.<br>

Many of the walls were covered in graffiti of a philosophical<br>nature.<br>

Room 29, one of the rooms in which I stayed. The folders on the table are the beginnings of my documentation of 'Les<br>Halles' and 'Everyday Life' in France.Above are two of a series of poster pictures which I later exhibited at the Exeter College of Art.<br>

The studio of Dutch painter, Guy Harloff. Spring 1959<br><br>

The studio of Dutch painter, Guy Harloff. Spring 1959<br><br>

Patrick Shelley, the English sensualist painter, and Allen<br>Ginsberg, Room 25. Christmas 1956. Shelley introduced me to the Beat Hotel in the winter of that year.<br><br>

Ian Sommerville in his room.<br><br>

Bryon Gysin's Dream-Machine. Harold Norse, in 'City Lights Journal', writes: 'dreamachine spins around and round opening up hash visions and colors as it crashes the sight barrier and changes cells of the brain'.<br><br>

Mike Blake, English painter and stage director. Behind him is Ian Sommerville's new chromium-plated bicycle wheel.<br><br>

William Burroughs' grey trilby.<br><br>

View from Room 29.<br><br>

View from Room 27

The pictures of Dominique's room were commissioned by her parents after she had died in a car accident. She had been working in Paris as a film editor.

Mural by 'Goofy' Godfrey.

Mural by 'Goofy' Godfrey, in Barbara Shumsky's room.

Ken Tindall, American writer and poet, who was working in the hotel on his novel,'The Arboretum'. In 'Left Bank this Month' he writes of Paris life: 'I need no bottled pyre; I don't need a fix, I make my own clouds here'.

Tove, Ken's Danish wife.

Harold Norse, a poet, writer and painter from the USA. He moved in to Bob and Ver's room long after they had left. In the 'City Lights Journal' he wrote, in February 1963; 'Last September I got Room 9 at 9, Rue Git-le Coeur on the 9th day of the 9th month.... In the cabbala, 9 is the number referring to initiates and prophets'....

At Stella Tohl's party.

A drawing in a 'cell' room by 'Goofy' Godfrey, an American<br>poet and painter. The Straw hats came from a flea market which, with Government surplus and the Salvation Army, was a main source of clothing for the Beats. <br>

Diane Barker in her room.

Bob Grosvenor from Newport, Rhode Island, USA.<br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br>

Bob Grosvenor and Verta Kali Smart in their room, surrounded by objects from flea markets, which Bob later exhibited in a New York gallery, and sold as 'objets trouves'.January 1958

January 1958. Verta Kali Smart, working on her article, 'Inside the Beat Hotel', for 'Left Bank This Month', which was sold to tourists at 300 francs a copy, in the streets of the <br>Latin Quarter.<br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br>

'Cyclops' Lester with Bob Grosvenor's easel and paintings behind him, and Herb Kohl, at the 'Fete des Rois'. January 1958<br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br>

December 13th, at 7.00am,in Room 38.Having lit candles, made crowns of tinsel and wrapped themselves in sheets, Annika, Eyla and Liza were about to sing, knock on people's doors and offer them coffee and biscuits. It was the Nordic<br>festival of Santa Lucia, the patron saint ofopticians and photographers.<br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br>

Jean Swanson in her'au pair' outfit. She looked after children on the Ile de la Cite.<br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br>

Jean Swanson and Mirtaud.

Jean Swanson cutting hair in number 4, a 'cell' roomon the first floor. At 400 francs a night, the 'cells' were the cheapest rooms, with windows which opened on to the stairs and with no direct daylight. They contained a was basin with a cold tap, an iron bed, a chair, a small radiator, and a naked 25 watt bulb. There was one 'cell' on each landing.<br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br>

The stair well. Owingto the less stringent laws in force at the time, the smoking of hashish and marijuana was, among some of the residents, a social activity like any other in the hotel. The distinctive smell would, day or night, drift from some of the ill-fitting doors on to the stairs..<br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br>

Left to right: Robin Page, Canadian painter; Peter Bishop, English journalist; Larry Yampolsky,news-reel cameraman;<br>Madame Rachou; Thomas Neurath; Peter Golding, London fashion designer; John Hammer. June 1960

Madame Madeleine, a concierge from Place St-Michel, with Biquette.

Diane Barker, an American model.

Madame Rachou, described by Dixie Nimmo as 'pugnacious' and 'kindly'.

Public telephones were not in telephone boxes, but in cafes.

The Beat Hotel; a thirteenth-class establishment; looking towards the Quai des Grands Augustins.

Rue Git-le-Coeur.

William Guthrie in Rue Git-le-Coeur, winter 1956. In 'Left Bank This Month', Verta Kali Smart wrote that the Beat Hotel was 'impossible to get into unless you know the key people, say the right things, carry a canvas under your arm'.

Thelma Shumsky from New York, on the corner of Rue de<br>l'Hirondelle and Rue Git-le-Coeur. She had just completed a cancer research project, collecting earth samples from all over the Middle East.

American action painter William Morris, outside the Beat Hotel, 9, Rue Git-le-Coeur. He produced all the paiintings for an exhibition in one afternoon on the Quai des Orfevres.

Rue Git-le-Coeur, which means 'where lies the heart'. Henry 1V, passing the street in his carriage on the Quai des Grands<br>Augustins, remarked to his companion: 'Icy gist mon coeur', For he had a mistress living there.

My Austin 7, which I would park on the Quai des Grands<br>Augustins at the end of Rue Git-le-Coeur. The car attracted large crowds, and people pushed messages and coins through gaps in the windows. Realising the car could be used as a source of income, I hung a billycan on the radiator<br>and stuck the best messages, which included poems and drawings, on the inside of the windows. People filled the billycan with food, small coins and cigarettes, until one day, the 'day's takings' were stolen. I then founs an art student to mind the car for me, and we split fifty-fifty.

Rue Git-le-Coeur, on the corner of the Quai des Grands<br>Augustins. Left to right Tove, Eunice Richards, Stella Tohl,<br>Keith, Ken Tindall, 'Cyclops' Lester. The folding handcart was borrowed from the local 'charbonnier' to collect Tindall's trunk from the Mistral.<br>

Outside the Mistral bookstore, in Rue de la Bucherie. Left to right: Ken Tindall, 'Cyclops' Lester, Stella Tohl, George Whitman, Eunice Richards, and George's dog in the arms of Tove.<br><br>

Gregory Corso in the Mistral bookshop Spring 1957<br>

Eunice Richards and Volkmar von Alten in the reading room of the Mistral bookstore, summer 1959. Much frequented by Beats and intellectuals from abroad, the shop was, in the words of the American owner, George Whitman, a 'Guest House' where newcomers to Paris could stay, and a 'Free University', where seminars and poetry readings were held.<br>

Nick Smart, from the USA, in Place St-Andre-des-Arts. He organised the selling of 'Left Bank This Month', a one-shot magazine of poetry, prose and local information, produced in the Beat Hotel.

Daytime at the Tabac St-Michel; one of the waiters whom at <br>night I would try to avoid. A loudly dressed conjurer changed my life: after a quick demonstration, I learned how to speedily take pictures of people before they became aware of the camera. This way, I earned a living at night as a Polaroid photographer, creeping round local cafes, dodging the waiters. An assistant would accompany me, talk to customers, smear each picture with a fixative, and collect the cash. During the day, I was free to wander the streets of Paris, photographing everyday life.

'Cyclops' Lester outside the Tabac St-Michel. He was working in the Circulation Department of the New York<br>Herald Tribune.

Thomas Neurath in a fashionable trench coat, with Diane Wells, an English schoolteacher. Pont St Michel, on which they are standing, joins the Ile de la Cite with the Latin Quarter.<br>

Ian Sommerville in Montparnasse.<br>

Francois Massal, photographing me after I had photographed a group of diners in the Restaurant Chez Jean. The Pentax, which he is using, was a reasonavly priced good camera, much sought after by serious but impecunious photographers. Francois was a keen documentary photographer of Paris Bohemian life.<br>

Peter Orlovsky, the American poet, outside the Restaurant Chez Jean, BoulevardSt-Germain. December 1956<br>

Peter Orlovsky and Allen Ginsberg in Rue St. Andre-des-Arts, December 1956. At that time, they were living in Room 25 of the Beat Hotel.<br>

Left to right: Peter Orlovsky, Allen Ginsberg, on a double-sided bench, Place St. Germain-des-Pres. December 1956

Allen Ginsberg with Lee Forest in her room at the Hotel de Londres. December 1956

Lee Forest, an American fashion model,winter 1956. Behind her is the 11th century pre-Gothic church of St.Germain-des-Pres, the oldest church in Paris.

'the flea-bag shrine will be documented by art historians'...<br>(Harold Norse, in his article, 'The Death of 9, Rue Git-le-Coeur', City Lights Journal, San Francisco 1963).

Ian Sommerville in the Beat Hotel, Paris. 1960s.

Lunchtime in the cafe. Workmen could have their lunches <br>re-heated on Madame Rachou's gas stove. Peter Golding on the harmonica, Robin Page playing the guitar. June 1960

Madame Rachou counting out 40 centimes, the price of a cup of coffee, for which Keith forgot to pay.

On the road. A band of hitch-hikers resting in a popular meeting-place on the corner of Rue de la Huchette, opposite the bar Chez Popov.