JACK KEROUAC

By  Mike Miller

September 30, 2021

Jack Kerouac was born in 1922 and died in 1969 in St. Petersburg, Florida at the age of 47.  

He was a pioneer of spontaneous prose and wrote about many subjects including spirituality, Buddhism, drugs, poverty, and travel.

Jack KerouacJack Kerouac


Although he wrote many books and articles, his most famous work is "On The Road" written in the early 1950s and published in 1957. 

This book chronicled his drug-fueled journeys across America with Neal Cassady and other writers and friends. 

It marked him forever as one of the founding fathers of The Beat Generation.

Kerouac had a hard time finding a publisher because the book was loaded with sex and drugs and written in a very unconventional style.

Even the way he wrote the book was unconventional.  He cut sheets of wrapping paper into narrow strips that would fit into his typewriter.   

He then taped them together and ended up with a roll of paper 120 feet long.  The book was written on one long sheet of paper and he never had to reload sheets into the typewriter. 

His original manuscript had no chapter or paragraph breaks.

The owner of a large St. Petersburg book store told me Jack Kerouac used to come in and rearrange books so that his titles were always prominently displayed on upper shelves.  He would get very upset if he came in and the locations of his books had been changed.

Jack struggled with alcohol and drug problems his entire adult life.  He was a complicated man who was interested in many subjects. 

His celebrity caused him to be uncomfortable in public. 

Jack Kerouac Home in St. PetersburgJack Kerouac Home in St. Petersburg

He had many bar fights and was known in some neighborhoods, especially later in life, as a brawler. 

Shortly before his death, he developed a  hernia after being in a bar fight in St. Petersburg.  The cause of his death was internal bleeding aggravated by cirrhosis.

At the time of his death he was living with his mother at 5169 Tenth Avenue North in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Jack lived in 1957 and 1958 in a house in College Park, a neighborhood in Orlando, Florida.  He wrote "The Dharma Bums" while living there.

Jack Kerouac House in OrlandoJack Kerouac House in Orlando

The address of the house is 1418 Clouser Avenue.  It is a national historic site, and is owned and operated by the Kerouac Project as a home for writers in residence.

Writers who are accepted by the project spend three-month residencies in the house and receive free lodging and a food allowance so they can concentrate on their writing.

Here is a partial list of some of Jack Kerouac's Books:

  • 1950  The Town and The City
  • 1957  On the Road
  • 1958  The Dharma Bums
  • 1960  Book of Dreams
  • 1962  Big Sur
  • 1971  Scattered Poems
  • 1977  Heaven and Other Poems
  • 2012  The Sea Is My Brother

Many of Kerouac's books were published after his death.  A more complete bibliography is at Empty Mirror Books.



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