Lawrence Ferlinghetti was born to European immigrants in 1919 in Yonkers, New York. Ferlinghetti was first raised by an aunt and then by foster parents since his father had died shortly before his birth and his mother had been committed to a mental hospital soon after. Having earned a B.A. in journalism in 1941, he published his first short stories while making a living as a sports journalist. Ferlinghetti served in US Navy during World War II and after the war earned a degree in English Literature from Columbia University and a Ph.D. from the Sorbonne in Paris. Together with his wife Kirby he returned to the US in 1951 where he started the City Lights pocket book store, the first of its kind in the US, with City Lights founder Peter Martin in San Francisco two years later. In 1955 Peter Martin sold his share of City Lights to Ferlinghetti, who would spearhead the business until his death 2021. The publishing branch of the venture – which had actually started several years earlier with Peter Martin’s literary City Lights magazine – was launched by Ferlinghetti that same year and rose to national fame one year later with the publication of Allen Ginsberg’s Howl and other Poems. City Lights built a reputation as the main publisher of the Beat Generation in the late 1950s and 1960s but published a wide variety of other works and translations as well, such as works by Charles Bukowski, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Georges Bataille, Noam Chomsky and Sam Shepard.
Although associated with the Beat Generation, Ferlinghetti did not think of himself as a Beat poet, rather as a San Francisco Renaisssance poet and philosophical anarchist, like his friend and example Kenneth Rexroth. Besides being a poet and publisher, Ferlinghetti was a painter and much of his poetry evokes colourful images of everyday urban America as well as its natural scenery. His Northwest Ecolog combines, as the blurb of this 1978 City Lights edition puts it, “Brief prose flashes and poems of trips ‘up the Coast’ last year, including a Green Peace Voyage, wild river musings, bucolic eclogues and ecological soundings. With Sumi brush drawings by the author.” The condition of this first printing copy is fine with only the slightest discolouring of the cover.