Jack Kerouac (1922 - 1969). Born as 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 didn't 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 resepct 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.
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:
- On The Road - The Subterraneans - Tristessa - Visions of Gerard - Doctor Sax - Maggie Cassidy - Visions of Cody - The Dharma Bums - Desolation Angels - Big Sur - Satori in Paris - Vanity of Duluoz
Other works include prose, poetry, Buddhist writings, and sound recordings.
He died in 1969 at the age of 47. His health had been destroyed by a life of heavy drinking.