Kesey, Ken

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Ken Kesey was a uniquely American author and cultural figure. His interest in the outdoors, the extraordinary, and experimental drug use inspired his first novel, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Equally vital as a member of the Merry Pranksters, the 1960s counterculture group, Kesey expressed and embodied an uninhibited individual's need to resist corrupt authority. His literary output was sparse, as he preferred experience to authorship, but his mantra of being different without being a threat continues to inform and entertain readers of his novels and exploits.

From the description of Ken Kesey letters and papers, 1963-1974. (Pennsylvania State University Libraries). WorldCat record id: 55998286

Ken Kesey (1935-2001), novelist.

From the description of Ken Kesey drafts and other material relating to Last go round, 1984. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 702198877

Ken Kesey (1935-2001) was born in La Junta, Colorado to Edward and Dulce Kesey on September 17, 1935. Later he moved with his family to Springfield, Oregon. A champion wrestler in both high school and college, he eloped with his high school sweetheart, Faye Haxby, right after they both graduated from high school and before Kesey entered college. They had three children, Jed, Zane, and Shannon. Kesey had another child, Sunshine, in 1966 with Carolyn Adams. Kesey attended the University of Oregon's School of Journalism, where he received a degree in speech and communication in 1957. He was awarded a Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship in 1958 to enroll in the creative writing program at Stanford University, which he did the following year and where he studied under Wallace Stegner (1909-1993). While at Stanford, Kesey volunteered to take part in a CIA-financed study named Project MKULTRA at the Menlo Park Veterans Hospital on the effects of psychoactive drugs, particularly LSD, psilocybin, mescaline, and DMT. Kesey wrote many detailed accounts of his experiences with these drugs, both during the Project MKULTRA study and in the years of private experimentation that followed. His role as a medical guinea pig inspired Kesey to write One flew over the cuckoo's nest in 1962. The success of this book, as well as the sale of his residence at Stanford, allowed him to move to La Honda, California, in the mountains south of San Francisco. He frequently entertained friends and many others with parties he called "Acid Tests" involving music (such as Kesey's favorite band, The Warlocks, later known as the Grateful Dead), black lights, fluorescent paint, strobes, and other "psychedelic" effects, and, of course, LSD. These parties were noted in some of Allen Ginsberg's poems and are also described in Tom Wolfe's The electric kool-aid acid test, as well as Hell's Angels: the strange and terrible saga of the outlaw motorcycle gangs by Hunter S. Thompson. In 1964, Ken Kesey took a mythic trip from the West Coast to New York City to celebrate the publication of his book, Sometimes a great notion. He was joined by a group of men and women called The Merry Pranksters (Neal Cassady, Carolyn Adams aka "Mountain girl," Ken Babbs, Ron Bevirt aka "Hassler," Betsy Flagg, George Walker, Chuck Kesey, Dale Kesey, John Babbs, Steve Lambrecht, and Paula Sundstren aka "Gretchen Fetchin"). In a 1939 bus painted in psychedelic colors and steered by Jack Kerouac's fabled companion, Neal Cassady (1926-1968), Kesey and the Pranksters set out on the ultimate road trip: an undercover mission in broad daylight that would take them through time, space, and the limitless magical landscape of the imagination. Their quest would be fueled by powerful potions of spiked orange juice, mixed by Kesey, with a brand new secret ingredient pinched from the laboratories of the Central Intelligence Agency--LSD. Not long after the legendary bus trip, Kesey was arrested for possession of marijuana in 1966. In an attempt to mislead police, he faked his own suicide by having friends leave the Merry Pranksters' truck on a cliffside road near Eureka, California, along with a suicide note that said, "Ocean, Ocean I'll beat you in the end." Kesey fled to Mexico in the back of a friend's car. When he later returned to the United States, Kesey was arrested and sent to jail for five months. Upon his release, he moved back to the family farm in Pleasant Hill, Oregon in the Willamette Valley, where he was to spend the rest of his life. He died on November 10, 2001 following an operation for liver cancer.

From the description of Ken Kesey Merry Pranksters collection, (bulk 1964-1969). (University of California, Los Angeles). WorldCat record id: 423650014

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Kesey, Zane. Acid Test poster modern variant reprints, 2010. University of California, Santa Cruz, UCSC
creatorOf Kesey, Ken. Office files of The American Poetry Review, 1980. University of Pennsylvania Libraries, Van Pelt Library
referencedIn New Yorker records, ca.1924-1984 New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division
creatorOf Kesey, Ken. Ken Kesey Merry Pranksters collection, (bulk 1964-1969). University of California, Los Angeles
creatorOf Hauben, Lawrence. One flew over the cuckoo's nest : screenplay / by Lawrence Hauben and Bo Goldman ; based on the novel by Ken Kesey. Broken Bow Public Library
referencedIn Felver, Christopher, 1946-. Videos, 1982-2000. Stanford University. Department of Special Collections and University Archives
creatorOf Eisenberg, Lee, 1946-. Records : of the 50th Anniversary issue of Esquire, 1976-1984 (bulk 1982-1983). University of Pennsylvania Libraries, Van Pelt Library
referencedIn Wasserman, Dale. Dale Wasserman papers, sound recordings and moving image materials, 1959-1996. New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn Wasserman, Dale. One flew over the cuckoo's nest / by Dale Wasserman ; based on the novel by Ken Kesey, 2001. New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn Stewart Brand papers, 1954-2000 Stanford University. Department of Special Collections and University Archives
creatorOf Waldman, Anne, 1945-. Anne Waldman papers, 1945-<2002> (bulk 1958-1998). University of Michigan
referencedIn McClanahan, Ed. Papers, 1970-1986. Kentucky Department of Libraries and Archives, Kentucky Guide Project Office
creatorOf Boise, Ronald Lee, 1931-1966. Ronald Lee Boise papers, 1964-1966. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
creatorOf Hauben, Lawrence. One flew over the cuckoo's nest : combined continuity, 1975 Dec. 15. Ohio State University Libraries
creatorOf Kesey, Ken. Ken Kesey letters and papers, 1963-1974. Pennsylvania State University Libraries
referencedIn "Stanford: A Sentimental Journey" [videorecording], 1987 Stanford University. Department of Special Collections and University Archives
referencedIn Howard, Jane, 1935-. Jane Howard papers, ca.1930-1996. Columbia University in the City of New York, Columbia University Libraries
referencedIn McMurtry, Larry. McMurtry, Larry, papers, 1961-1979; 1961-1969. University of Texas Libraries, University of Texas Libraries
referencedIn Sterling Lord Archive, Bulk, 1952-1998, 1946-1998 Fales Library & Special Collections
referencedIn Wasserman, Dale. Dale Wasserman papers, 1959-1996. New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn KRON-TV (Television station : San Francisco, Calif.). Stanford: a sentimental journey : video recordings, 1987. Stanford University. Department of Special Collections and University Archives
referencedIn Ginsberg, Allen, 1926-1997. Film and video archive, 1938-2001. Stanford University. Department of Special Collections and University Archives
referencedIn Felver, Christopher, 1946-. The group surrounding Allen Ginsberg : photographs, 1980-1985. Stanford University. Department of Special Collections and University Archives
creatorOf Henry, J. L. (James L.),. James L. Henry collection of Ken Kesey, 1962-1990. UC Berkeley Libraries
referencedIn Wasserman, Dale. Papers, 1946-1983. Wisconsin Historical Society, Newspaper Project
referencedIn Ginsberg, Allen, 1926-1997. Allen Ginsberg papers, 1937-1994. Stanford University. Department of Special Collections and University Archives
creatorOf Kesey, Ken. [Interview] : manuscript, [1972]. Pierpont Morgan Library.
creatorOf Kesey, Ken. Ken Kesey drafts and other material relating to Last go round, 1984. Yale University, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
referencedIn Dale Wasserman papers, 1940-2008 The New York Public Library. Billy Rose Theatre Division.
referencedIn Ann Charters Papers., 1966-1982. Archives & Special Collections at the Thomas J. Dodd Center.
referencedIn Allen Ginsberg papers, 1937-1994 Stanford University. Libraries. Dept. of Special Collections and University Archives.
referencedIn Brand, Stewart. Stewart Brand papers, 1954-2000. Stanford University. Department of Special Collections and University Archives
referencedIn Keenan, Larry. Larry Keenan, Jr. photograph archive [graphic]. UC Berkeley Libraries
referencedIn Jane Howard Papers, ca.1930-1996 Columbia University. Rare Book and Manuscript Library,
referencedIn Miscellaneous photographs of celebrity library visitors to the University of Virginia Library, ante 1969-1998. University of Virginia. Library
creatorOf Babbs, Ken. Unwritten history / by Ken Babbs, John Babbs & Ken Kesey. Southern Oregon University Library, Hannon Library
referencedIn Monterey Public Library. California History Room. Authors clippings : "GROUP" folder 1942-1991. Monterey Public Library
Role Title Holding Repository
Direct Relationships
Relation Name
associatedWith Babbs, Ken. person
associatedWith Blaisdell, Gus, person
associatedWith Boise, Ronald Lee, 1931-1966. person
associatedWith Brand, Stewart person
associatedWith Brand, Stewart. person
associatedWith Burden, Carter, person
associatedWith Cassady, Neal. person
associatedWith Charters, Ann. person
associatedWith Eisenberg, Lee, 1946- person
associatedWith Felver, Christopher, 1946- person
associatedWith Fletcher, George. person
associatedWith Ginsberg, Allen, 1926-1997. person
associatedWith Grateful Dead (Musical group) corporateBody
associatedWith Hauben, Lawrence. person
associatedWith Hell's Angels. corporateBody
associatedWith Henry, J. L. (James L.), person
associatedWith Howard, Jane, 1935- person
associatedWith Keenan, Larry. person
associatedWith KRON-TV (Television station : San Francisco, Calif.) corporateBody
associatedWith McClanahan, Ed. person
associatedWith McMurtry, Larry. person
associatedWith Monterey Public Library. California History Room. corporateBody
correspondedWith New Yorker Magazine, Inc corporateBody
associatedWith Pendleton Round-Up. corporateBody
associatedWith Spain, John. person
associatedWith Sundown, Jackson. person
associatedWith Waldman, Anne, 1945-. person
associatedWith Wasserman, Dale. person
associatedWith Woodstock Festival (1969 : Bethel, N.Y.) corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
Pendleton (Or.)
La Honda (Calif.)
United States
Oregon
New Jersey Turnpike (N.J.)
Manhattan (New York, N.Y.)
Subject
Authors, American--20th century
Authors, American--20th century--Correspondence
Rodeos--Fiction
Authors, American--20th century--Archival resources
LSD (Drug)--Physiological effect
Cowboys--Fiction
Hippies--Travel
Bus travel
American literature--20th century
Occupation
Function

Person

Birth 1935-09-17

Death 2001-11-10

Americans

English

Information

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