Barry Miles papers, 1958-1990, bulk 1965-1997

Summary Information


The Barry Miles Papers contains correspondence, manuscripts, photographs, and printed materials concerned with Miles' literary activities in the London counterculture. Included are letters and manuscripts from William S. Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg, among numerous others. This collection also includes material used by Miles in the research and writing of his work Ginsberg: A Biography as well as from his editorship of the annotated edition of Ginsberg's Howl.

At a Glance

Call No.:
Bib ID:
4078472 View CLIO record
Miles, Barry, 1943-; Ferlinghetti, Lawrence; Patten, Brian, 1946-; Malanga, Gerard; McClure, Michael; Burroughs, William S., 1914-1997; Ginsberg, Allen, 1926-1997; Brautigan, Richard C.
Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Physical Description:
16 linear feet (38 boxes: 27 document boxes 10 cassette tape boxes 1 half document box)
Material is primarily in English with some French.
You will need to make an appointment in advance to use this collection material in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room. You can schedule an appointment once you've submitted your request through your Special Collections Research Account.

This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least three business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.

This collection has no restrictions.


Scope and Content

This collection is comprised of the correspondence and manuscripts (primarily of others) obtained by Miles in his capacity as a bookseller at Better Books and Indica Bookshop, little magazine publisher (The International Times, Longhair), and producer at Zapple Records from the mid-1960s through the 1990s. Also included is material compiled by Miles during the writing of Ginsberg: A Biography, and the annotated edition of Ginsberg's Howl, including multiple drafts of these writings.

The bulk of the correspondence pertains to Miles' publishing and bookselling efforts, much of it from counterculture poets and writers. William S Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg are the most voluminous of Mile's correspondents. Also included are many flyers and catalogues.

The manuscript holdings consist largely of poetry, although there are a number of prose works by William S Burroughs. There are also a large number of Ginsberg manuscripts.

The scholarly work of Miles himself are also found in this collection, primarily drafts and research materials for Ginsberg: A Biography, and the annotated edition of Howl. There are ten distinct versions of the former work, along with handwritten research notes, typed chronologies and itineraries, and duplicate Ginsberg correspondences and journals from university libraries and personal collections. Included are ten boxes of cassette tapes of Ginsberg readings, lectures, and interviews.

  • Series I: Correspondence, 1960s-1980s

    This series contains correspondence related to Miles' work as a publisher of the little magazines Longhair and The International Times, and as owner and manager of London's Better Books and Indica Books. Most of the correspondents are writers and artists from the counterculture scene in the US and Britain.

    The majority of the correspondents are represented by only one or two letters, primarily addressing business and promotional concerns. These are arranged alphabetically within "General Correspondence." Because some of the correspondents are people of note, this finding aid includes a list of correspondents found within the "General Correspondents" folders.

    Correspondents with a large volume of material have been filed individually, the largest of these being the correspondence of William S Burroughs, which is also available on microfilm in the Columbia University library catalogue.

    Original flyers and catalogues for various little magazines, book publications, poetry readings, and musical events have also been placed within this series.

    All materials have been organized alphabetically by correspondent.

  • Series II: Manuscripts, 1959-1979

    This series holds the manuscripts of writers associated with Miles and his various magazines (Long Hair and Trees), as well as his publishing, promotional, recording (at Zapple Records), and bookselling ventures. There are no manuscripts by Miles himself in this series, however, there are a considerable number of original manuscripts by William S Burroughs here.

    All manuscripts have been arranged alphabetically.

  • Series III: Allen Ginsberg, 1960s-1990s

    Correspondence, as well as manuscripts and typescript drafts of poems by Allen Ginsberg, are included in this series. There can also be found a handwritten itinerary of one of Ginsberg's reading tours, and Ginsberg's rendition of his family tree that includes a sketch by Beat poet Gregory Corso. These materials have been organized alphabetically.

  • Series IV: Ginsberg: A Biography Materials, 1943-2000

    This series consists of materials related to Barry Miles' biography of Allen Ginsberg. First, it includes ten distinct manuscript drafts of the biography itself, up to and including galleys and typeset drafts. Many of these drafts include handwritten notes and corrections. The sixth draft has extensive corrections by Ginsberg. There is also a draft of the revised edition of the biography. Additionally, a published copy of the first edition, signed and annotated throughout by Ginsberg, can be found.

    The research materials are quite extensive, including typed chronologies of Ginsberg's life, and itineraries of his various travels, as well as transcribed interviews with family and friends.

    Audio recordings of interviews are also in this series, part of a 10-box collection of cassette tapes containing duplicates of tapes from Ginsberg's personal collection. The cassette tapes are ordered according to Ginsberg's own organizational schema when possible. Other audio material, such as Miles' interviews with Ginsberg friends and family, are arranged alphabetically by interviewee.

    There is also Miles' detailed year-by-year chronological reconstruction of Ginsberg's life, from 1943 to Ginsberg's death in 1997. These files contain contemporary newspaper clippings; selected Ginsberg journal entries; letters regarding relevant details of Ginsberg's life; writings by Ginsberg and others from the year specified; and studies of Ginsberg and the Beats relevant to that year. Within the folder 'Year 1949' can be found photocopies of Ginsberg's early manuscript "The Fall."

    Nearly all of this material is photocopied. The duplicated material is dated, in the container list, by when the originals were produced; the photocopies themselves date from the 1980s, the period when Miles was writing the biography.

    This series also contains extensive correspondence, some related to the publication of the biography, but mostly a collection of Ginsberg's personal correspondence from the 1940s to the 1990s. As with the chronological material discussed above, this correspondence is almost exclusively photocopied Also found within this series are duplicates of Ginsberg's journals from 1953 to 1980. Finally, this series contains a small collection of Ginsberg obituaries.

  • Series V: Annotated Howl, 1955-1986

    In 1986, Miles edited an annotated, facsimile edition of Ginsberg's Howl. In addition to a number of unpublished drafts, this series contains annotations, appendices, and other materials contained within the book. There are also photocopies of Ginsberg letters and correspondence between Miles and the book publishers.


This collection is arranged in five series.

Using the Collection

Restrictions on Access

You will need to make an appointment in advance to use this collection material in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room. You can schedule an appointment once you've submitted your request through your Special Collections Research Account.

This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least three business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.

This collection has no restrictions.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

Reader must use microfilm of materials specified above.

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. The RBML maintains ownership of the physical material only. Copyright remains with the creator and his/her heirs. The responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the patron.

Preferred Citation

Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Barry Miles Papers; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.


Materials may have been added to the collection since this finding aid was prepared. Contact for more information.

Alternate Form Available

William Burroughs letters are available on: microfilm.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Source of acquisition--297-2/17/86; 2/24/86; 8/15/86. Method of acquisition--Purchase; Date of acquisition--08/15/86. Accession number--M-86-08-15.

Allen Ginsberg letters & misc: Source of acquisition--293. Method of acquisition--Purchase; Date of acquisition--07/22/92. Accession number--M-92-07-22.

About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Processing Information

Processed J. L-W 02/02/88.

Allen Ginsberg letters & misc Cataloged HR 08/27/92.

Papers reprocessed Aaron Winslow (GSAS, 2014) 2009.

Finding aid written Aaron Winslow (GSAS, 2014) 1/--/2010.

Revision Description

2010-04-07 xml document instance created by Carrie Hintz

2019-05-20 EAD was imported spring 2019 as part of the ArchivesSpace Phase II migration.

Biographical sketch

Barry Miles was born in 1943, in Cirencester, England. He studied art at Cheltenham College of Art before moving to London and qualifying as an art teacher.

Throughout the 1960s, Miles managed Better Books, a counterculture center located in London, at which he staged performances and poetry readings of American poets, helping to generate greater interest in American literary and arts movements within Britain.

After Better Books was sold in 1965, and Miles, together with art critic John Dunbar and musician Peter Asher, founded MAD Ltd. With the financial support of Paul McCartney, they opened Indica Bookshop and Art Gallery in 1966, which continued to host experimental poetry readings and avant-garde art shows. Miles remained owner/manager of Indica until it closed in 1970.

Also around this time, Miles founded and edited a number of little magazines, including Trees and The Long Hair Times (also, sometimes, just Long Hair), magazines that specialized in publishing Beat poetry and other avant-garde and experimental literature from the US and UK. The latter magazine was the direct forerunner of the underground newspaper The International Times (later just IT), founded in 1966 by Miles, John "Hoppy" Hopkins, and Jim Haynes.

Miles became manager of Zapple Records in 1968, a subsidiary of the Beatles' Apple Records, which was intended as an outlet for spoken word and avant-garde records. Only two records were released before Zapple folded in 1969.

Living in New York for much of the 1970s, Miles worked for Allen Ginsberg catalogueing his tape archives and writing for New Musical Express. He later returned to London to edit Time Out.

Since the 1970s, Miles has worked as a writer and biographer, and in 1989 he published the first complete biography of Allen Ginsberg. He has also written biographies of Paul McCartney, Frank Zappa, William S. Burroughs, Jack Kerouac, and Charles Bukowski, and the band Pink Floyd, as well as editing annotated editions of Ginsberg's Howl and Burroughs' Naked Lunch. He has written extensively on the Sixties counterculture, publishing the book Hippie and an essay in I Want to Take You Higher: The Psychedelic Era, 1965-1969.

Subject Headings

The subject headings listed below are found in this collection. Links below allow searches for other collections at Columbia University, through CLIO, the catalog for Columbia University Libraries, and through ArchiveGRID, a catalog that allows users to search the holdings of multiple research libraries and archives.

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Advertisements CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Announcements CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Bibliographies CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Broadsides (notices) CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Brochures CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Collages (visual works) CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Drafts (documents) CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Drawings (visual works) CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Essays CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Galley proofs CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Genealogies (histories) CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Handbills CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Interviews CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Invitations CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Itineraries CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Manuscripts (documents) CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Notes (documents) CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Photographic prints CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Photographs CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Poems CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Posters CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Press releases CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Reviews (documents) CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Résumés (personnel records) CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Screen prints CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Trade catalogs CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
indexes (reference sources) CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Artists CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Artists CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Authors CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Beat literature CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Beats (Persons) CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Beats (Persons) in literature CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Biographers CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Biographers -- Great Britain -- Correspondence CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Biography -- 20th century CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Bohemianism CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Booksellers and bookselling CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Bookstores CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Counterculture CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Editors CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Hippies CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Little magazines -- England -- London CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Poetry CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Poetry -- Periodicals CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Poetry -- Publishing CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Poetry -- Social aspects CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Poetry, Modern -- 20th century CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Poetry, Modern -- 20th century -- Periodicals CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Poets CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Poets, American -- 20th century -- Biography CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Poets, American -- 20th century -- Correspondence CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Poets, American -- 20th century -- Interviews CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID
Poets, English -- 20th century CLIO Catalog ArchiveGRID