Happy Birthday Jack Kerouac


birthday cake

As it is Jack Kerouac’s birthday today (he would have been 94) I am dedicating this week’s post to the iconic author.

Jack KerouacJack Kerouac(March 12th 1922 – October 21st 1969)

Notable works: On the Road, The Dharma Bums, Big Sur, The Town and the City

Novelist, poet and artist Jack Kerouac was born in Lowell, Massachusetts in 1922 to French Canadian parents. Alongside William S. Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg he was one of the pioneers of the Beat Generation. Today Kerouac is best remembered for his spontaneous prose style. Themes in his work include jazz, Buddhism, drugs, poverty, promiscuity and above all travel.

A notoriously heavy drinker, Kerouac’s favourite drink was said to be Margarita. He wrote in his book, Big Sur, ‘Don’t drink to get drunk. Drink to enjoy life.’ His drinking led to his premature death aged 47 from internal bleeding.

Here are some interesting facts about Jack Kerouac:

  • According to Kerouac he was born Jean-Louis Lebris de Kérouac.
  • He was a high school athletics star (sprinter and hurdler) and college football player (running back).
  • Kerouac has been compared to James Dean because of the rebellious nature of his work and his Hollywood good looks.
  • Kerouac is buried at Edson Cemetery in his hometown of Lowell, Massachusetts.

Kerouac’s most famous work, On the Road, was written on a 120-foot piece of continuous scroll over a 3 week period in April 1951. It was not published until 1957. Here is a picture of the original manuscript.


I have read 2 of Kerouac’s books, On the Road and Maggie Cassidy. Although On the Road is his seminal work, I preferred Maggie Cassidy. Click on the links to read my reviews.

On the Road by Jack Kerouac – The defining text of The Beat Generation is a largely autobiographical account of the author’s adventures in America and Mexico. The story follows restless protagonist Sal’s various road trips…(More)

Maggie Cassidy by Jack Kerouac – Set in the close-knit working-class French-Canadian community of Lowell, Massachusetts, Maggie Cassidy is a semi-autobiographical account of Kerouac’s adolescence. The story is recounted through the teenage mind(More)

Here are 2 good Jack Kerouac quotes:

‘Nothing behind me, everything ahead of me, as is ever so on the road.’ — On the Road

‘Great things are not accomplished by those who yield to trends and fads and popular opinion.’ — Jack Kerouac


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  • Happy Birthday Kerouac! Didn’t know about his athletic accomplishments. Will definitely read Maggie Cassidy. Read On the Road in my teens, liked it.

    • Kerouac might have ended up in the NFL if he hadn’t got injured. I wonder if he would have enjoyed it there, I suspect not, but who knows. I think you will like Maggie Cassidy Trina.

  • Jack Kerouac is my favourite author and I’ve read ALL his books. Don’t stop with just two! The more you read the more of a picture of the man you acquire. I also have the two books of his letters and works of his friends.

    Possibly my favourite of all his work is Visions of Gerard – “Unique among Jack Kerouac’s novels, Visions of Gerard focuses on the scenes and sensations of childhood—the wisdom, anguish, intensity, innocence, evil, insight, suffering, delight, and shock—as they were revealed in the short tragic-happy life of his saintly brother, Gerard. Set in Kerouac’s hometown of Lowell, Massachusetts, it is an unsettling, beautiful, and sad exploration of the meaning and precariousness of existence.”

    I suggest every single one of his books.

    But that film that was made about On the Road was so dire that I nearly got up and left!

    • Thank you for the information about Visions of Gerard, it sounds intriguing. I had never heard of it before. Will give the film of On the Road a miss. Look forward to reading and reviewing more of Kerouac’s books.

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