Kerouac, Jack, 1922-1969

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Jean-Louis Lebris de Kérouac (March 12, 1922 – October 21, 1969), known as Jack Kerouac, was an American novelist of French Canadian ancestry, who, alongside William S. Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg, was a pioneer of the Beat Generation.

Raised in a French-speaking home in Lowell, Massachusetts, Kerouac learned English at age six and spoke with a marked accent into his late teens. Kerouac spent much of his youth engaged in sports and other physical activities. His athletic prowess earned him a football scholarship to Columbia University where he matriculated in 1940, but he left Columbia in the Fall of 1941 after sustaining an injury that left him unable to play football.

In 1942, Kerouac joined the United States Merchant Marines, and in 1943 he joined the US Navy under the name John Louis Kerouac. He served eight days of active duty with the Navy before arriving on the sick list. According to his medical report, Kerouac said he "asked for an aspirin for his headaches and they diagnosed me dementia praecox and sent me here." The medical examiner reported that Kerouac's military adjustment was poor, quoting Kerouac: "I just can't stand it; I like to be by myself." Two days later he was honorably discharged on the psychiatric grounds that he was of "indifferent character" with a diagnosis of "schizoid personality".

While serving in the Merchant Marine in 1942, Kerouac wrote his first novel, The Sea Is My Brother, which was published over forty years after his death. He maintained close ties to members of the Columbia community. and lived in Manhattan's Upper West Side with his girlfriend, later first wife, Barnard student Edie Parker and her friend Joan Vollmer. It was through Parker that Kerouac met Columbia students Allen Ginsberg and Lucien Carr and their friends William Burroughs and Herbert Huncke. This group of friends and writers which would later form the nucleus of the Beat Generation, was the inspiration for much of Kerouac's work. His first published book was The Town and the City, and he achieved widespread fame and notoriety with his second, On the Road, in 1957. It made him a beat icon, who published twelve more novels during his life, and numerous poetry volumes.

Kerouac is recognized for his style of spontaneous prose. Thematically, his work covers topics such as his Catholic spirituality, jazz, promiscuity, life in New York, Buddhism, drugs, poverty, and travel. He became an underground celebrity and, with other beats, a progenitor of the hippie movement, although he remained antagonistic toward some of its politically radical elements. He has a lasting legacy, greatly influencing many of the cultural icons of the 1960s, including Bob Dylan, the Beatles, and the Doors.

Though Kerouac's goal had long been to be a writer, the success of On the Road never sat entirely well with its author. Kerouac continued to write his thinly veiled autobiographical novels chronicling his bohemian, literary circle of friends, but in his personal life he began to pull away from the public eye and distance himself from his Beat Generation associated. He moved to Northport, Long Island to care for his aging parents and growing more personally and politically conservative.

In 1969, at age 47, Kerouac died from an abdominal hemorrhage caused by a lifetime of heavy drinking. Since then, his literary prestige has grown, and several previously unseen works have been published. All of his books are in print today.

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
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referencedIn Allen Ginsberg Collection TXRC00-A13., 1944-1979 Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center
referencedIn Corso, Gregory. Gregory Corso papers, 1980-1991. Stanford University. Department of Special Collections and University Archives
creatorOf Rosenthal, Irving, 1930-. Irving Rosenthal papers, ca. 1950-1996. Stanford University. Department of Special Collections and University Archives
referencedIn Irving Rosenthal papers, ca. 1950-1996 Stanford University. Department of Special Collections and University Archives
referencedIn Ginsberg, Allen, 1926-1997. Correspondence of Allen Ginsberg [manuscript], 1960-1963. University of Virginia. Library
referencedIn Vegter, Kyle. Pops / Kyle Vegter ; text [by] Jack Kerouac. Marshall University, John Deaver Drinko Library
referencedIn Kealing, Bob. Bob Kealing Kerouac research collection, 1958-2008 1996-2002. University of Central Florida, UCF
referencedIn Henry, James L. James L. Henry materials pertaining to his collection of Jack Kerouac, 1950-1995. UC Berkeley Libraries
referencedIn Lavigne, Robert. Robert Lavigne papers, 1954-1969. Columbia University in the City of New York, Columbia University Libraries
referencedIn Nicosia, Gerald. The Kerouac legacy [sound recording] : an interview with Gerald Nicosia. UC Berkeley Libraries
referencedIn Clark, Tom, 1941-. Tom Clark papers, 1984-1986. UC Berkeley Libraries
referencedIn Neal Cassady Collection TXRC00-A14., 1947-1965 Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center
referencedIn Cohen, John. Pull my daisy [graphic] : promotional photographs and stills from the motion picture. UC Berkeley Libraries
creatorOf Kerouac, Jack, 1922-1969. Jack Kerouac collection of papers, 1943-1969. New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn Lamantia, Philip, 1927-2005. Philip Lamantia papers, 1944-2005. UC Berkeley Libraries
creatorOf Kerouac, Jack, 1922-1969. Letter to Marshall Bean, 1965 December 7. University of Virginia. Library
referencedIn Corso, Gregory. Gregory Corso papers, 1960-1970. Stanford University. Department of Special Collections and University Archives
creatorOf Allen, Donald, 1912-2004. Donald Allen collection, 1930-2005. University of California, San Diego, UC San Diego Library; UCSD Library
creatorOf Kerouac, Jack, 1922-1969. Jack Kerouac letters, 1949-1968 [manuscript]. Denver Public Library, Central Library
referencedIn Paris Review. The Paris Review archives, 1953-1997. Pierpont Morgan Library.
creatorOf Cowley, Malcolm, 1898-1989. Malcolm Cowley papers, 1911-1990. Newberry Library
referencedIn Edward Dorn Papers., undated, 1956-1993. Archives & Special Collections at the Thomas J. Dodd Center.
creatorOf Kerouac, Jack, 1922-1969. Jack Kerouac poems, 1966-1971. Pennsylvania State University Libraries
referencedIn Burroughs, William S., 1914-1997. Memoir : of William S. Burroughs, [1956-1958]. University of Virginia. Library
creatorOf Kerouac’s Papers for a Beat Anthology, 1956-1964 University of Kansas Kenneth Spencer Research Library Department of Special Collections
referencedIn Montgomery, John, 1919-. John Montgomery papers UC Berkeley Libraries
referencedIn Morgan, Bill, 1949- ,. Poetry readings, film and theatrical shows, and exhibitions : posters, programs and announcements, 1950s-2000. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
referencedIn Lucien Carr Papers, 1951-1975. Columbia University. Rare Book an Manuscript Library
referencedIn Robert LaVigne Papers, 1954-1969. Columbia University. Rare Book an Manuscript Library
creatorOf Krim, Seymour, 1922-. Papers of Seymour Krim, 1953-1990. University of Iowa Libraries
referencedIn William S. Burroughs papers, 1951-1972, 1958-1972 The New York Public Library. Henry W. and Albert A. Berg Collection of English and American Literature.
creatorOf Jack Kerouac collection of papers, 1942]-1969 The New York Public Library. Henry W. and Albert A. Berg Collection of English and American Literature.
referencedIn New World Writing records, 1952-1960 Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
referencedIn Monterey Public Library. California History Room. Authors clippings : "GROUP" folder 1942-1991. Monterey Public Library
referencedIn John Wieners Papers, 1955-1970 Syracuse University. Library. Special Collections Research Center
referencedIn Ginsberg, Allen, 1926-1997. Typed letter signed : NYC, to [John] Ciardi, 1959 Aug. 22. Pierpont Morgan Library.
creatorOf Weber, Hugo, 1918-1971. Hugo Weber papers, 1932-1971. Archives of American Art
creatorOf Jack Kerouac Papers, 1945-1971. Columbia University. Rare Book an Manuscript Library
referencedIn Peter Orlovsky Papers, 1954-1971. Columbia University. Rare Book an Manuscript Library
referencedIn Holmes, John Clellon, 1926-1988. Collection of five typed letters, signed and unsigned, and one typed journal entry : place not specified, to Jack Kerouac, 1950 Feb. 3-1965 July 15. New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn (Everett) Leroi Jones (aka Amiri Baraka) Papers, 1957-1965 Syracuse University. Library. Special Collections Research Center
referencedIn Ginsberg, Allen, 1926-1997. Typed postcard signed : NYC, to [John] Ciardi, 1959 Sept. 3. Pierpont Morgan Library.
referencedIn Burroughs, William S., 1914-1997. William S. Burroughs collection, 1938- Arizona State University Libraries
creatorOf Kerouac, Jack, 1922-1969. Jack Kerouac Collection, 1949-1982. Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center
referencedIn Allen, Steve, 1921-2000. [Interview with Steve Allen] [sound recording] / Steve Allen ; [interviewed by] David Marc, Van Nuys, CA, Sept. 18, 1996. Syracuse University
referencedIn Twardowicz, Stanley, 1917-. Stanley Twardowicz papers, 1942-2009, bulk, 1942-1981. Archives of American Art
referencedIn Naropa Institute. Jack Kerouac conference posters. Boulder Public Library
referencedIn Creeley, Robert, 1926-2005. Papers, 1951-1990. Washington University in St. Louis, .
creatorOf Kerouac, Jack, 1922-1969. Jack Kerouac collection, 1950-1959. Emory University Library, Special Collect Department
referencedIn Burroughs, William S., 1914-1997. William S. Burroughs Collection of Papers, 1951-1972 bulk (1958-1972). New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn [Collection of material about Edie Parker Kerouac's "You'll be okay: my life with Jack Kerouac"] University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
referencedIn Philip Lamantia papers, 1944-2005 Bancroft Library
referencedIn Snyder, Gary, 1930-. Papers, 1910-2003 1945-2002. University of California, Davis, Shields Library
referencedIn New Directions Publishing Corp. records, 1932-2005 Houghton Library
referencedIn Amburn, Ellis. Ellis Amburn papers, 1916-2005, (bulk 1973-2000). Texas Christian University
creatorOf Riley, Terry, 1935-. June Buddhas : 1991 : the Mexico City blues : for chorus and orchestra / Terry Riley ; [poetry, Jack Kerouac] ; chorus parts. New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn Manuscripts and proofs of New Directions books, 1937-1997. Houghton Library
referencedIn Manuscripts and proofs of New Directions books, 1937-1997. Houghton Library
referencedIn Gregory Corso Papers, 1980-1991 Stanford University. Department of Special Collections and University Archives
referencedIn Updike, John. Typed postcard signed : Beverly Farms, to Ms. [i.e. Mr.?] Scott Donaldson, 1990 Mar. 20. New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn Ginsberg, Allen, 1926-1997. Allen Ginsberg papers, 1944-1991. Columbia University in the City of New York, Columbia University Libraries
referencedIn Naropa Institute. Naropa Institute collection 1980-1983. Boulder Public Library
creatorOf Kerouac, Jack, 1922-1969. Letter to Marshall Bean [manuscript], 1965 December 7. University of Virginia. Library
referencedIn New Yorker records, ca.1924-1984 New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division
referencedIn Carr, Lucien, 1925-2005. Lucien Carr papers, 1951-1975. Columbia University in the City of New York, Columbia University Libraries
referencedIn Twardowicz, Stanley, 1917-. Stanley Twardowicz papers, 1925-2007. Archives of American Art
referencedIn Allen, Donald, 1912-2004. Unpublished anthology of the San Francisco Renaissance, ca. 1965. Stanford University. Department of Special Collections and University Archives
referencedIn Walsh, Sheila. Tea with Mommy and Jack / Sheila Walsh, 1988. New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn Clark, Tom. Tom Clark papers, 1981-1983. Columbia University in the City of New York, Columbia University Libraries
creatorOf Ginsberg, Allen, 1926-1997. Allen Ginsberg Collection, 1944-1979. Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center
creatorOf Sweeney, Francis W., 1916-. Humanities Series : director's records, 1945-2000 (bulk 1957-1998). Boston College. John J. Burns Library
creatorOf Burroughs, William S., 1914-1997. William S. Burroughs Papers, WSB98 [ca. 1964- ca. 1986]. Ohio State University Libraries
referencedIn Baraka, Imamu Amiri, 1934-. Papers of Imamu Amiri Baraka [manuscript], 1960-1963. University of Virginia. Library
referencedIn Morgan, Bill, 1949- ,. Articles related to the Beats: oversize, 1983-2007. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
creatorOf Jack Kerouac Papers, 1956-1966 Syracuse University. Library. Special Collections Research Center
creatorOf City Lights Books. City Lights Books records, 1953-1970. UC Berkeley Libraries
referencedIn Richard Gaither Walser Papers, 1918-1988 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Library. Southern Historical Collection
referencedIn City Lights Books Records, 1953-1970 Bancroft Library
referencedIn Donald A. Wollheim papers, 1933-2007 University of Kansas Kenneth Spencer Research Library Department of Special Collections
referencedIn Allen Ginsberg poems and letters, 1959–1966, 1984 University of Delaware Library - Special Collections
referencedIn Bob Kealing Kerouac Research Collection, 1958-2008, 1996-2002 Special Collections and University Archives, University of Central Florida Libraries,
referencedIn Allen Ginsberg papers, 1937-1994 Stanford University. Department of Special Collections and University Archives
referencedIn Cassady, Neal. Typed letter : [San Jose, Calif.?], to John Clellon Holmes, [1952] Nov. 17 and 20. New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn Grove Press Records, 1953-1985 Syracuse University. Library. Special Collections Research Center
referencedIn Buckley, William F. (William Frank), 1925-2008. "Firing Line with William Buckley" transcripts, 1966-1967 (inclusive) [microform]. Yale University Library
referencedIn Allen Ginsberg papers, 1943-1991, [Bulk Dates: 1945-1976] Columbia University. Rare Book an Manuscript Library
referencedIn New world writing records, 1952-1960. Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
referencedIn Morgan, Bill, 1949- ,. Articles related to the Beats, 1983-2002. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
referencedIn Mark Green papers, 1954-1991, bulk 1954-1978 Archives of American Art
creatorOf Burroughs, William S., 1914-1997. William S. Burroughs Papers, WSB97 [ca. 1945-ca. 1984]. Ohio State University Libraries
referencedIn Kerouac, Edie Parker, 1923-1992. Edie Parker and Henri Cru papers, 1883-2004. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
referencedIn Allen Ginsberg papers, 1937-1994 Stanford University. Department of Special Collections and University Archives
creatorOf Kerouac, Jack, 1922-1969. Papers, 1949-1988. Campbell University, Wiggins Memorial Library
creatorOf Cassady, Neal. Neal Cassady Collection, 1947-1965. Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center
referencedIn Gary Snyder Papers, 1910-2003;, (1945-2002 bulk) University of California, Davis. General Library. . Dept. of Special Collections
creatorOf Jack Kerouac Papers TXRC00-A12., 1948-1982 Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center
referencedIn Orlovsky, Peter, 1933-2010. Papers, 1954-1971. Columbia University in the City of New York, Columbia University Libraries
referencedIn Di Prima, Diane, 1934-. Diane di Prima : papers, 1934-1992. University of Louisville, Ekstrom Library
creatorOf Kerouac, Jack, 1922-1969. Collection of 68 letters and 30 postcards, autograph and typed, most signed, to John Clellon Holmes; with: 1 typed letter to Alan Harrington, and 1 uncompleted letter from Neal Cassady to Holmes; Jack Kerouac autograph manuscript comprising a critique of John Clellon Holmes's novel "Go"; t.l.s. from [Kit and Arthur Knight] to Alfred Hirsch, July 24, 1983; t.l.s. from Maurice Neville to Alfred Hirsch, July 26, 1983. New York Public Library System, NYPL
creatorOf Kerouac, Jack, 1922-1969. Unpublished typescripts written in partial fulfillment of course requirements at The New School for Social Research, 1948 & 1949. Stanford University. Department of Special Collections and University Archives
referencedIn Stanley Twardowicz papers, 1942-2009 Archives of American Art
referencedIn Green, Mark L., 1932-2004. Mark Green papers, 1954-1991, bulk 1954-1978. Archives of American Art
referencedIn Ginsberg, Allen, 1926-1997. Film and video archive, 1938-2001. Stanford University. Department of Special Collections and University Archives
referencedIn Green, Mark, 1932-. Mark Green papers, 1957-1991. Archives of American Art
referencedIn Donald Allen Collection, 1930-2005 Mandeville Special Collections Library
referencedIn Coppola, Francis Ford, 1939-. On the road : [screenplay] / by Francis Ford Coppola and Michael Herr. University of Missouri-Kansas City, Miller Nichols Library; Health Sciences Library; Dental Library
creatorOf Kerouac, Jack, 1922-1969. Letters, 1951-1966. Southern Methodist University DeGolyer Library
referencedIn Orlovsky, Peter, 1933-2010. Autograph diary signed : New York, 1960 June 23-1966 Apr. 23. New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn Lowell-Adams House Printers papers, 1964-1972 (inclusive) 1964-1966 (bulk). Houghton Library
creatorOf Jack Kerouac Papers, 1920-1977, 1935-1969 The New York Public Library. Henry W. and Albert A. Berg Collection of English and American Literature.
creatorOf Kerouac, Jack, 1922-1969. Jack Kerouac letters, 1945-1969. Columbia University in the City of New York, Columbia University Libraries
referencedIn Alfred Kazin collection of papers, 1933-1990, 1933-1978 The New York Public Library. Henry W. and Albert A. Berg Collection of English and American Literature.
referencedIn Burroughs, William S., 1914-1997. Memoir : of William S. Burroughs, [1956-1958] [manuscript]. University of Virginia. Library
referencedIn Sterling Lord Archive, Bulk, 1952-1998, 1946-1998 Fales Library & Special Collections
referencedIn Felver, Christopher, 1946-. Videos, 1982-2000. Stanford University. Department of Special Collections and University Archives
referencedIn Montgomery Clift papers, 1933-1966 The New York Public Library. Billy Rose Theatre Division.
creatorOf Kerouac, Jack, 1922-1969. Jack Kerouac Papers, 1920-1977 bulk 1935-1969. New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn New Directions Publishing Corp. records, 1932-2005 Houghton Library
creatorOf Kerouac, Jack, 1922-1969. Jack Kerouac collection. [ca. 1959]. University of Victoria Libraries, UVic
referencedIn Northport Public Library (Northport, N.Y.). Northport vertical file, 1862-1988. Campbell University, Wiggins Memorial Library
referencedIn Ginsberg, Allen, 1926-1997. Typed letter signed to Gui de Angulo, 1956 Jan. 15, Paterson, New Jersey, and 4 autograph notes signed to Gui, 1956 Sept. 22-26. Stanford University. Department of Special Collections and University Archives
Relation Name
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Place Name Admin Code Country
Saint Petersburg FL US
New York City NY US
Lowell MA US
Subject
Mental Disorders--diagnosis
Literature, experimental
Spirituality
Jazz
Beat generation
Authors, American--20th century
Bohemianism
American literature--Publishing
Creative writing
Beat generation--Biography
Beat generation in literature
Homosexuality
Alcoholism
Beat generation--Poetry
Bohemianism--United States
Drug abuse
American literature--20th century
Automobile travel in literature
Fan mail
Literature--American Poetry
Buddhism
Schizophrenia
Radicalism
Catholicism
Authors, American--20th century--Poetry
Mothers and sons
American poetry--20th century
Beat generation--Fiction
Poets, American
Occupation
Authors, American
Poets
Writer
Activity

Person

Birth 1922-03-12

Death 1969-10-21

Male

Americans

English,

French

Information

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