Linda King

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Linda King (born 1940) is an American sculptor and poet.[1] She was the girlfriend of American writer Charles Bukowski for several years in the early 1970s.[2]

Linda King is a poet, playwright, and artist working in painting and sculpture who was immortalized in the poetry and prose of her former love Charles Bukowski. During the 1970s, King edited the little magazine, Purr.[3]

Born in 1940, she was brought up in Boulder, Utah.[4] She was divorced after a marriage for ten years to an Italian with a traditional outlook.[5] They had two children, a boy and a girl.[4] She was an actress before she became a sculptor and poet.[5] If Bukowski's autobiographical writings are to be believed, King had a large ego and a flair for self-dramatization.

Relationship With Bukowski[edit]

In 1970, shortly after the end of her marriage, she met Charles Bukowski, danced for him, and offered to make a sculpture of his head.[5] He accepted her offer, and they soon had an affair. (The couple frequently broke up, and when they were parted, Bukowski would give her back the bust of him she had sculpted.)

She was 30 and Bukowski was 20 years her senior when they started their relationship.[1] Their relationship was passionate and turbulent; on one occasion in 1971, Bukowski broke her nose in an argument.[5] One night, King and Bukowski were accommodated in the City Lights apartment in San Francisco, after a reading at the City Lights Poets Theater.[6] By the morning there was a broken window and a panel smashed in the door, and King had disappeared; Bukowski blamed her for the damage.[6]

They split up after three years, when one night King threw his typewriter and books onto the street in a drunken spree, angry at his infidelities.[1] The incident is detailed in Bukowski's novel, Women, whose leading character, Lydia Vance, is based on King.[1]

Critic Robert Peters viewed Bukowski first stage debut the poet as actor in Linda King’s play Only a Tenant in which she and Bukowski staged read the first act at the Pasadena Museum of the Artist.[7] Their relationship was on-off; in 1975 she finally left him and Los Angeles for Phoenix, because of what she described as "one extended nervous breakdown".[2]

She said of their relationship:

It wasn't that he had other women. It's that he always wanted me to know about them, always wanted to tell me all the details about what they did together. Who does that unless they really want to make you mad?[1]

In his writings, such as the autobiographical novel Women, Bukowski characterized King as extremely competitive and burdened by his burgeoning fame.

After Bukowski[edit]

She remarried and had a second son; the marriage ended in divorce.[4] She made her way as a bartender, waitress, and, more recently, part-time care giver for old people.[2] She sold her own traditional portrait busts in clay, and published poems, one in 1997 beginning, "I am the woman who knows for sure that Bukowski's balls were bigger I am the woman who knows that he liked hot chilies in his stew".[2]

In 2004, the art Phoenix gallery The Paper Heart featured her paintings, busts and poems, along with documentary films about Bukowski, in a show, Friends and Foes of Charles Bukowski.[2]

In 2009, she sold 60 love letters written to her by Bukowski for $69,000 at auction in San Francisco's PBA Galleries, receiving less than half of that amount after paying listing and other fees.[1] That same year, in order to be nearer to her grandchildren, she moved from Phoenix into an apartment in the Sunset District of San Francisco.[1] In September 2009, she was one of the three poets in the presentation, Tales of Bukowski & the Late 1960s LA Poetry Scene: a reading & report by key poet/participants at Bird & Beckett Books & Records in San Francisco.[3]

In addition to her head of Bukowski, King also sculpted busts of Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Jack Micheline, Harold Norse, and A. D. Winans. A play she wrote, Singing Bullets, was staged as part of a showcase by Phoenix's Metro Arts Institute.

She has also sculpted a head of Bukowski and sold an edition of at least 15 bronzes for in the region of $5,000 each.[1]


King wrote a book Loving and Hating Bukowski.[1] She also has written seven collections of poetry:

  • Curled Inside the Curve of His Body…
  • I Danced With a Man Last Night
  • The Elephant Chronicles
  • Exposed
  • The Savageness of My Discontent
  • Sweet and Dirty
  • The World is Not What I Thought

She also has had her poetry published in a wide variety of magazines, including The Bukowski Review and Wormwood Review.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Berton, Justin. "Charles Bukowski love letters sold, maybe more", San Francisco Chronicle, September 8, 2009. Retrieved May 7, 2010.
  2. ^ a b c d e Watson, Joe. "Studio Visit", Phoenix New Times, October 14, 2004. Retrieved May 7, 2010. Archived, May 6, 2010.
  3. ^ a b "Tales of Bukowski & the Late 1960s LA Poetry Scene" Archived 2012-03-14 at the Wayback Machine., Sfstation. Retrieved May 7, 2010.
  4. ^ a b c "Linda King", Linda King Arts. Retrieved May 7, 2010;
  5. ^ a b c d Malone, Aubrey (2003). The Hunchback of East Hollywood: a Biography of Charles Bukowski, p.85, Critical Vision. ISBN 1-900486-28-8, ISBN 978-1-900486-28-6
  6. ^ a b Morgan, Bill (2003). The Beat Generation in San Francisco: a Literary Tour, p.63, City Lights Books. ISBN 0-87286-417-0, ISBN 978-0-87286-417-7
  7. ^ [1] first stage debut

External links[edit]