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Ralph Ginzburg Letters to Leonard Lyons


Held at: Princeton University Library: Manuscripts Division [Contact Us]

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Princeton University Library: Manuscripts Division. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

Ginzburg, Ralph

Ralph Ginzburg was an American author, editor, publisher and photo-journalist. He was best known for publishing books and magazines on erotica and art, and for his conviction in 1963 for violating federal obscenity laws. In 1962, Ginzburg began publication of his first major work, Eros, which was a quarterly hardbound periodical containing articles and photo-essays on love and sex. Herb Lubalin was the art director and second on the masthead. Only four issues of Eros were published, largely because Ginzburg was indicted under federal obscenity laws for the fourth issue. From January 1964 to August, 1967, Ginzburg published a quarterly magazine named Fact, which was a humorous, scathingly satiric journal of comment on current society and politics. Fact had little erotic content; rather, it contained articles such as "1,189 Psychiatrists Say Barry Goldwater Is Unfit for the Presidency." From January 1968 through July 1971, Ginzburg published Avant Garde, which like Eros, was a handsome hardbound periodical. Ginzburg's age and federal conviction had calmed him down some by this time. Avant Garde could not be termed obscene, but it is filled with creative imagery often critical of American society and government, sexual themes, and crude language. It had a modest circulation but was extremely popular in certain circles, including New York's advertising and editorial art directors.

Leonard Lyons (born Leonard Sucher) was an American newspaper columnist. After he got the position as a Broadway columnist with the New York Post, the editor gave Sucher an alternative last name, "Lyons," for professional use, and thus he became "Leonard Lyons." Lyons' first column appeared May 20, 1934, under the banner of "The Lyons Den." He worked on "The Lyons Den" six days per week, producing as many columns per week, covering theater, movies, politics and art, a total of approximately 12,000 columns. The column became a New York institution, and was also syndicated nationally. Leonard Lyons was also nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.

The collection consists of thirty-four letters and note cards of Ginzburg to his friend Leonard Lyons, syndicated columnist of the "The Lyons Den" with the New York Post. The first two letters (1963-1964) bear the letterhead of Ginsburg's controversial magazine Eros. One, dated Dec. 31, 1963, is by Raphael Paganelli (press relations of Eros) to Lyons, informing him that Ginzburg was sentenced to five years in prison and fined $42,000 for publishing and mailing "obscene" literature. The next group of letters (1965) bear the letterhead of Ginzburg's second publication, Fact Magazine. In the first letter in this group, dated May 27, 1964, Ginzburg writes to Lyons that the "obscene" issue of Eros for which he was fined and sentenced to prison was awarded four Awards of Merit by the Art Director's Club of New York. In the following letters Ginzburg gives Lyons "exclusive" news and information about material which will be published in his magazines Fact and Avant Garde for Lyons to use in his column in the the New York Post. Such "exclusives" include articles about Muhammad Ali, songs of Joan Baez, survey results and an article about Barry Goldwater, a profile of Hugh Hefner, John Lennon's erotic lithographs, and Picasso's erotic gravures.

No AM given.

This collection was processed by Dina Britain on May 29, 2009. Finding aid written by Elizabeth Mulvey on June 15, 2009. Folder Inventory added by Hilde Creager '2015 in 2012.

No appraisal information is available.

Manuscripts Division
Finding Aid Date
Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Use Restrictions

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. No further photoduplication of copies of material in the collection can be made when Princeton University Library does not own the original. Inquiries regarding publishing material from the collection should be directed to RBSC Public Services staff through the Ask Us! form. The library has no information on the status of literary rights in the collection and researchers are responsible for determining any questions of copyright.

Collection Inventory

Correspondence about Eros Magazine: 4 Typed Letters from Ralph Ginzburg to Leonard Lyons, 1963-1964. 2 folders.
Physical Description

2 folders

Correspondence about Fact Magazine: 8 Typed Letters, 2 Typed Cards from Ralph Ginzburg to Leonard Lyons, 1965. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

Correspondence about Fact Magazine: 19 Typed Letters, 3 Typed Cards from Ralph Ginzburg to Leonard Lyons, 1967-1970. 4 folders.
Physical Description

4 folders

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