Jack Kerouac


Born: March 12, 1992 in Lowell, Massachusetts
Died: Oct 21, 1969 (at age 47) in St. Petersburg, Florida
Nationality: American
Famous For: On the Road, The Dharma Bums, Big Sur

Born Jean-Louis Kerouac on March 12, 1922, in Lowell Massachusetts, this popular author ended up becoming an iconic personality that would be idolized decades after his demise. Although his writing career started out at a slow pace in the 1940s, he became a celebrity by the close of the 1960s. His death on October 21, 1969, due to an internal hemorrhage was a blow to the literary world.

Early Life

Kerouac’s childhood and early adulthood helped to shape his career substantially. At the age of four, he lost his elder brother to rheumatic fever, after which his father turned to gambling, smoking, and drinking while his mother sought solace in faith. Jack Kerouac earned himself a football scholarship to Columbia University, during which he also wrote sports articles for the student paper.

His football days did not last too long and he subsequently dropped out of university. While staying in New York, he met some significant characters who had a profound effect on his life from then on. Some of those people included Allen Ginsberg, Herbert Huncke, Neal Cassady, and many others.

The life of Jack Kerouac was never devoid of drama. In 1942, he served in the US Navy for eight days. He was arrested as a material witness in a murder in 1944 and married his girlfriend in exchange for bailing him out of jail. He had the marriage annulled within a year. He later married a lady named Joan Haverty. She had Jack’s only child, Jan Kerouac.

Career and Works

Jack wrote his first novel The Sea is My Brother in 1942 and it began a journey of creativity and spontaneity. This book was finally published in 2011, some seven decades after it was written. Although it carried some important insights into the discrimination and dissatisfaction of society, his hesitation to publish the book was evident as he viewed it somewhat as a failure.
His first publication came in 1950 in a novel titled The Town and the City which offered a witty juxtaposition of low-key town life versus life in the fast-paced city. Books sales fell below average, but the book catapulted him into the limelight.

As early as 1947, Jack Kerouac began working on his greatest work yet – the famed American classic On the Road and what is now known as the Beat Generation. It took an interesting and well-calculated process of writing this book, and the resultant manuscript was over 100 feet long and had no paragraphs or chapters.

Later Works

It might have been an exceptional novel, but his rather new style of writing was considered experimental and risky by publishers. The book drew a graphical depiction of drug abuse and same-sex relationships, which in that day and age was regarded an alien subject. It was not published until 1957. According to Kerouac, the book was in reality about two friends on a religious journey in the face of worldly pleasures.

After its publication, Jack was hailed as the king of the beat generation and his earlier works that were initially rejected become instantly invaluable. By the time he met his end, Jack Kerouac had over 20 novels and other fictional works as well as numerous poems, non-fictions, letters, journals and interviews published under his name.