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Jack Kerouac

Jack Kerouac (March 12, 1922 - October 21, 1969) was a novelist, writer and one of the most prominent members of the beat movement in literature.

Born Jean-Louis Kerouac to a French-Canadian family in Lowell, Massachusetts. At an early age, he was heartbroken when his elder brother Gerard died, later prompting him to write the book Visions of Gerard.

His athletic prowess led him to be a star on his local football team, and this achievement earned him a scholarship to Columbia University in New York. It was in New York that Kerouac met the people whom he was to journey around the world with, and return to write about: the so-called Beat Generation, which included people like Allen Ginsberg, Neal Cassady and William S. Burroughs. After breaking his leg and arguing with his coach, the football scholarship did not pan out, so Kerouac left to join the Merchant Marine[?].

In between his sea voyages, Kerouac stayed in New York with his friends from Columbia. He started writing his first novel, called The Town and the City, which was published in 1950 and earned him some respect as a writer.

Kerouac wrote constantly, despite not publishing another novel until 1957 when On the Road finally appeared in print. This book dealt with his roadtrip adventures across America and into Mexico with Neal Cassady. He wrote it in an extended session of "spontaneous prose" which created a style of writing entirely of Kerouac's own making. He was hailed in some circles as a major American writer, and reluctantly as the spokesman for the Beat Generation. In 2001, the book would be listed as one of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century by the editorial board of the American Modern Library.

The progressive rock group King Crimson paid tribute to Jack Kerouac and his works with their album "Beat", which contained songs "Neal and Jack and me" and "Satori in Tangier".

During his years of rejection by publishers, he wrote a number of (autobiographical) books, which he carried in his rucksack on reams of typing paper which he taped together so he did not have to pause to change the paper. These books include:

Other works include prose, poetry, Buddhist writings, and sound recordings.

He died at the age of 47. His health had been destroyed by a life of heavy drinking.

A street is named after him in San Francisco.

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