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Biographies


Amburn, Ellis. Subterranean Kerouac: The Hidden Life of Jack Kerouac . New York: St. Martin's Press, 1998.

 

Amburn produced this controversial work, after growing close to Kerouac while editing his last two novels, Desolation Angels and Vanity of Duluoz. Amburn provides unusual insight into Kerouac’s struggles with sexuality and drug addiction during his last years of life

 

Amram, David. Offbeat: Collaborating with Kerouac. New York: Thunder's Mouth Press, 2002.

 

Profiles the author's friend and collaborator Jack Kerouac, whose work came to symbolize the spirit of a generation, and offers a look at Kerouac's work, his diverse interests, and the colorful world of 1950s Greenwich Village

 

Charters, Ann. Kerouac: A Biography. San Francisco, CA. Straight Arrow Books, 1973.

 

The earliest major Kerouac biography by Ann Charters is based on several years of interviews with the writer, interviews with other Beat writers, and thorough research. Sympathetic, yet substantial, the chronicle of Kerouac's restless life, particularly the productive years between 1951 and 1957, is detailed here and carefully related to his largely autobiographical writings. Originally published in 1973..

 

Charters, Ann. Kerouac: A Biography. New York. St. Martin's Press, 1994.

 

Written by Kerouac enthusiast and authority Ann Charters, the earliest of major Kerouac biographies is founded on several years of interviews with the writer, interviews with other Beat writers, and solid research. Sympathetic but substantial, it chronicles Kerouac's restless life, particularly the productive years between 1951 and 1957. Includes new introduction, originally published in 1973.

 

Charters, Ann. Kerouac: A Biography. New York. St. Martin's Press, 2015. ebook.

 

Written by Kerouac enthusiast and authority Ann Charters, the earliest of major Kerouac biographies is founded on several years of interviews with the writer, interviews with other Beat writers, and solid research. Sympathetic but substantial, the chronicle of Kerouac's restless life, particularly the productive years between 1951 and 1957, is detailed here and carefully related to his largely autobiographical writings. Originally published in 1973.

 

Christy, Jim. The Long, Slow Death of Jack Kerouac. Toronto: ECW Press, 1998.

 

One of the most widely read and influential American writers of the 20th century, Jack Kerouac is often misunderstood. Christy focuses on the last ten years of Kerouac's life, from the influential New York Times rave review of On the Road until his death in 1969.

 

Clark, Tom. Jack Kerouac: A Biography. New York: Paragon House, 1990.

 

A concise, straightforward, chronological account of Kerouac's successes and struggles. Well-documented and containing many photographs, it serves as an excellent introduction to the writer and his work.

 

Dittman, Michael J. Jack Kerouac: A Biography. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2004.

 

This critical biography provides a roadmap to the personal journeys that marked the life and works of American icon Jack Kerouac.

 

Dorfner, John. Kerouac: Visions of Lowell. Raleigh, NC: Cooper Street Publications, 1993.

 

It was in Lowell, Massachusetts where Kerouac's life and memories began. Through the areas of Centralville and Pawtucketville, the author leads us on a written and pictorial pilgrimage to the buildings, roads, and scenes that Kerouac described in his writings, and the landmarks that have arisen after his death.

 

Edington, Stephen. Kerouac's Nashua Connection. Nashua, NH: [publisher not identified], 1999.

 

The story of Jack Kerouac's French-Canadian lineage from the arrival of the first Kerouac in Quebec in 1730, to the emigration of Jack Kerouac's paternal grandparents from St. Hubert, Quebec to Nashua, New Hampshire in 1890. It concludes with Jack's adolescent days in Lowell, Massachusetts where his parents raised him.

 

Garcia-Robles, Jorge. At the End of the Road: Jack Kerouac in Mexico. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2014.

 

In juxtaposing Kerouac’s idyllic image of Mexico with his actual experiences of being extorted, assaulted, and harassed, García-Robles offers the essential Mexican perspective. Finding there the spiritual nourishment he craved for in the United States, Kerouac held fast to his idealized notion of the country, even as the stories he recounts are as much literary as real.

 

 

Gifford, Barry and Lawrence Lee. Jack's Book: An Oral Biography of Jack Kerouac. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1978.

 

For this oral history the authors interviewed Kerouac's friends and acquaintances from his childhood in Lowell to his final days in St. Petersburg. The result is an immediate, intimate portrait full of fresh insights and varied perspectives from the people who knew him best. Brief but elucidating comments from one of Kerouac's Northport friends, artist Stanley Twardowicz, are included.

 

 

Jarvis, Charles E. Visions of Kerouac. Lowell, MA: Ithaca Press, 1974.

 

This early biography is penned with a topical approach by a lifelong friend and teacher of the humanities at the University of Lowell. Jarvis' academic background and his personal knowledge come together in his conversational yet astute treatment of subjects such as the transformation of Kerouac's boyhood experiences into fiction and Kerouac's dissipated life in Lowell during the late 1960s.

 

Johnson, Joyce. Minor Characters. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1983.

 

This memoir traces the evolution of Johnson's romance with Kerouac, touching upon the peripheral, supportive role of women involved with the men of the Beat Generation. Johnson played a role in Kerouac's move to Northport and this book includes pleasant descriptions of the community.

 

Johnson, Joyce.The Voice is All: The Lonely Victory of Jack Kerouac. New York: Viking, 2012.

 

A biography of the leader of the Beat movement, based in part on the memories of Allen Ginsberg and William Burroughs. It details the life and work of an author, who has become an American icon. .

 

Jones, Jim. Use My Name: Jack Kerouac's Forgotten Families. Toronto: ECW Press, 1999.

 

The saga of five people whose lives were joined, often in emotional or legal conflict, by their relationship with the same man, the King of the Beatniks, Jack Kerouac.

 

Kealing, Bob. Kerouac in Florida: Where the Road Ends. Orlando, FL: Arbiter Press, 2004.

 

Never-before published information and photos on the life of Jack Kerouac in Florida from 1948-1969. This work makes a great contribution to the literary history of the Beat era and the Beat-Generation writers.

 

Kerouac, Edie Parker. You'll be Okay: My Life with Jack Kerouac. San Francisco, CA: City Lights Books, 2007.

 

Vignettes written by Jack Kerouac's first wife remembering her marriage to the American novelist during the 1940s and their subsequent life-long friendship.

 

Kerouac, Jack. Jack Kerouac: Selected Letters, 1940-1956. Ann Charters, ed. New York: Viking, 1995. 


These letters offer invaluable insights into Kerouac's family life, his friendships, his travels, love affairs, and literary apprenticeship. Kerouac presents a rare portrait of himself as a young adventurer of immense talent, energy, and ambition in the midst of evolving into American legend.

 

Kerouac, Jack. Selected Letters, 1957-1969. Ann Charters, ed. New York: Viking, 1999. 


In this second volume of letters edited by Charters, the correspondence begins with the publication of On the Road, and continues up until two days before Kerouac's death, chronicling his changing state of mind and the effects of his newfound fame. Of special local interest are the letters written during the period when Kerouac lived in Northport, New York.

 

Kerouac, Jack and Joyce Johnson. Door Wide Open: A Beat Love Affair in Letters, 1957-1958. New York: Viking, 2000.

 

Previously unavailable letters, an integral part of author and editor Joyce Johnson's youthful relationship with nomadic Kerouac, cover the period during which On the Road was published and Kerouac was pitched abruptly from obscurity to celebrity.

 

Kerouac, Joan. Nobody's Wife: The Smart Aleck and the King of the Beats. Berkeley, CA: Creative Arts Book Company, 1990.

 

The woman who was married to Beat Generation author Jack Kerouac while he was writing his most famous work, On the Road, recounts the ups and downs of their relationship.

 

Maher, Paul. Jack Kerouac's American Journey: The Real-Life Odyssey of "On the Road". New York: Thunder's Mouth Press. 2007.

 

A Kerouac scholar traces the true adventures behind the twentieth century classic novel, On the Road, and discusses the real-life inspirations for the novel's memorable characters.

 

Maher, Paul. Kerouac: His Life and Work. Lanham, MD: Taylor Trade Pub., 2007.

 

An authoritative biography of writer, poet, and beat generation icon Jack Kerouac, whose novel, On the Road, catapulted him to the forefront of the literary world and influenced budding writers for generations to come.

 

Maher, Paul. Kerouac: The Definitive Biography. Lanham, MD: Taylor Trade Pub., 2004.

 

Based on original archival research and dozens of interviews, this work is a fresh, compelling, and substantive critical reassessment of Kerouac's brief and often chaotic life.

 

McKee, Jenn. Jack Kerouac. Philadelphia, PA: Chelsea House Publishers. 2004.

 

A chronological examination of the life of Jack Kerouac that includes details of his childhood, education, career, as well as a complete list of his works.

 

McNally, Dennis. Desolate Angel: Jack Kerouac, The Beat Generation, and America. New York: Random House. 1979.

 

By placing Kerouac and the Beat movement within the larger context of the political, social, and literary history of post-World War II America, McNally's narrative biography makes a significant contribution to the growing literature on Kerouac.

 

McNally, Dennis. Desolate Angel: Jack Kerouac, The Beat Generation, and America. Cambridge, MA. Da Capo Press. 2003.

 

By placing Kerouac and the Beat movement within the larger context of the political, social, and literary history of post-World War II America, McNally's narrative biography makes a significant contribution to the growing literature on Kerouac.

 

Miles, Barry. Jack Kerouac, King of the Beats: A Portrait. New York: Henry Holt, 1998.

 

Many of the revelations in this work regarding Kerouac's character and actions have been explored in previous biographies. Miles demonstrates that Kerouac was both human and fallible, sometimes in contradiction to what he wrote. He also successfully conjures up the fervor of the Beats' time period which led to Kerouac's cultural canonization.

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Montgomery, John. Kerouac West Coast. A Bohemian Pilot Detailed Navigational Instructions.
Palo Alto, CA: Fels & Firn Press, 1976.

 

This is a droll, essay-length memoir by a Berkeley pal and librarian who climbed Yosemite's Matterhorn with Kerouac and Gary Snyder (an event which found its way into Dharma Bums). The author explores an assortment of topics such as, Kerouac being a “serious, innovating, experimentalist,” his failed marriages, his wariness toward New York City, and the real story of the mountain climb.

 

Nicosia, Gerald. Memory Babe: A Critical Biography of Jack Kerouac. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1994.

 

In its accumulation of detail, analysis, and length, Nicosia's diligently researched work stands as the definitive literary biography of Kerouac. It exhibits an appreciation of Kerouac's writing, which is carefully explored and linked to his daily life. From its description of the detours in the construction of an attic workroom to its depiction of Kerouac's friendship with artist Stanley Twardowicz, the book offers the most complete coverage of the Northport period.

 

Parker, Brad. Jack Kerouac: An Introduction. Lowell, MA: Lowell Corporation for the Humanities, Inc., 1989.

 

In honor of the twentieth anniversary of Kerouac's death, the Lowell Corporation for the Humanities published this short, psychological biography written by a Lowell resident. It provides a fine, concise introduction to the writer, his works, and life. One informative feature of the book is a guide to Lowell's Kerouac sites.

 

Sandison, David. Jack Kerouac: An Illustrated Biography.  Chicago: Chicago Review Press, 1999.

 

A visual record of Kerouac, an iconic symbol of The Beat Generation, and author of On the Road.

 

 

Turner, Steve. Angelheaded Hipster: A Life of Jack Kerouac. New York: Viking, 1996.

 

Presented in an informal scrapbook format with typescript, photos, and souvenirs, this work synopsizes the life and times of Kerouac, while providing insight into the frustrations and critical hostility his work received.

 

Weaver, Helen. The Awakener: A Memoir of Kerouac and the Fifties. San Francisco, CA: City Lights Books, 2009.

 

Weaver presents an insightful and riveting memoir describing her love and friendship with Jack Kerouac and the Beats during the 1950’s and 1960’s in New York City.

 

 

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