Brautigan > Biography

This node of the American Dust website (formerly Brautigan Bibliography and Archive) provides comprehensive information about Richard Brautigan's life (1935-1984). Information includes a brief biography, family history (including marriages), highlights from each each decade of Brautigan's life, and some thoughts about his continuing legacy. Use the menu tabs below to learn more.


Richard Gary Brautigan (1935-1984) was an American writer popular during the late 1960s and early 1970s. He is often considered the author to best characterize the cultural electricity prevalent in San Francisco during the ebbing of the Beat Generation and the emergence of the counterculture movement.

Born in Tacoma, Washington, 30 January 1935, Brautigan grew up there, and later in Eugene, Oregon, during the bleakness of The Depression and World War II. His earlier works reflected some of his childhood experiences.

By 1956, Brautigan was living in San Francisco, California, determined to become a writer. His breakout came with publication of his novel Trout Fishing in America, in 1967. Literally overnight, Brautigan became an international sensation.

He continued writing throughout the 1970s, the height of his success. Brautigan's popularity, however, waned in the late 1970s-early 1980s. Some of his works were banned in California in 1978. The case was decided as a split decision in December 1978. The classroom book ban was upheld, but Brautigan's books were ordered back onto the library bookshelves. The decision was appealed by both sides. LEARN more.

In an article in The Guardian, Saeed Kamali Dehghan suggested that Brautigan's In Watermelon Sugar, translated into Farsi by Mehdi Navid, was censored. Navid, speaking about word changes suggested by Iran's ministry of culture and Islamic guidance, says some were ridiculous (Dehghan, Saeed Kamali. Tehran International Book Fair Launches Crackdown on "Harmful" Titles. The Guardian, 2 May 2012, Main Section, p. 24).

Brautigan died in 1984, in his home in Bolinas, California.

Brautigan's body of work includes includes ten novels, ten poetry collections, and one collection of short stories, as well as four volumes of collected work, several nonfiction works, and a record album. Throughout, he is noted for using humor and emotion to propel a unique vision of hope and imagination.

Also significant is Brautigan's detached, anonymous first person point of view, his idiosyncratic, autobiographical, quirky, yet easy-to-read prose style and episodic narrative structure full of unconventional but vivid images powered by imagination, strange and detailed observational metaphors, humor, and satire, all presented in a seemingly simplistic, childlike manner.

Brautigan's best-known works include his novel, Trout Fishing in America (1967), his collection of poetry, The Pill versus the Springhill Mine Disaster (1968), and his collection of stories, Revenge of the Lawn (1971).

Brautigan's legacy is his unique vision as a writer. It provides inspiration for writers, readers, artists, and musicians around the world.

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