A great and important early draft of “Howl” has just recently been discovered.
“The carbon copy was discovered by a family member in the papers of the arts patron Annie Ruff, who hosted poets and other artists, including Ginsberg, in her home over the years. The family member, believing they may have found an early version of Howl, contacted rare book dealer and Beats specialist Brian Cassidy to authenticate it, with Cassidy identifying the draft as a carbon copy struck on Ginsberg’s own typewriter in late January or early February 1956..”
The eleven-page early draft is for sale at Type Punch Matrix – see here (current asking-price $425,000 (£308,000)) who explain:
“This copy was struck from what has become known as the fifth draft.. from early 1956. It is this draft that Ginsberg read in what is the earliest known recording of the poem at Oregon’s Reed College from February 1956 [soon-to-be-released as a CD by Omnivore Records] (indeed you can hear him turning the pages at precisely the right time on the recording), performed just three months after the legendary Six Gallery reading where the poem debuted.”
Its authenticity is here verified:
“(It) is the exact carbon struck on Ginsberg’s own typewriter from the top ribbon copy now housed at Stanford among Ginsberg’s papers. Ginsberg was known to have created carbons of the poem, and the peculiarities both of Ginsberg’s typewriter and of this particular typing (i.e. matching orientations of the text vis-à-vis the page edges on the top copy vs. the carbon, parallel impressions evidencing matching strike timing and strength) – as well as revisions visible on both the top copy and this carbon – exactly match the original held at Stanford. It is not a fair copy, and we can also state definitively that it is not a later reproduction or duplication of any kind.”
“The typescript here offered differs significantly from both the later published versions ..and perhaps more importantly from even the known top-copy draft at Stanford. Words erased and retyped in the top copy are visible in the carbon, as are other changes evidenced in comparison to the published and the digitized versions…”
Most significantly, “page seven is here in the carbon as it was originally typed, before Ginsberg retyped the entire page, changing it significantly.” (This original version is lacking from Ginsberg’s papers and had previously only been known via the Reed College recording)
By the way, that’s NOT Allen’s signature that you see there at the top of the manuscript.