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Selected Beat Generation Works

Campbell, James.This is the Beat Generation: New York, San Francisco, Paris. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2001.

Beginning in New York in 1944, James Campbell finds the leading members of what was to become the Beat Generation in the shadows of madness and criminality. This book charts the transformation of these experiences into literature, and a literary movement that spread across the globe.


Charters, Ann, ed. Beat Down to Your Soul: What was the Beat Generation? New York: Penguin Books, 2001.

The companion volume to The Portable Beat Reader brings together more than seventy-five reviews, memoirs, poems, essays, and sketches that capture the beliefs, controversies, and credos of the Beat Generation writers of the 1950s, offering profiles of all major Beat figures, as well as critical commentaries by writers and critics.

Charters, Ann and Samuel Charters. Brother-Souls: John Clellon Homlmes, Jack Kerouac, and the Beat Generation. Jackson, MS: University Press of Mississippi, 2010.

John Clellon Holmes met Jack Kerouac on a hot New York City weekend in 1948, and until the end of Kerouac's life they were "Brother Souls." Both were neophyte novelists, hungry for literary fame but just as hungry to find a new way of responding to their experiences in a postwar American society that for them had lost its direction. Late one night as they sat talking, Kerouac spontaneously created the term "Beat Generation" to describe this new attitude they felt.

Charters, Ann, ed. The Portable Beat Reader. New York: Viking, 1992.

Literary revolutions ignite, blaze, and eventually die down just as the writers who embodied them age and pass away.   What remains of the revolution is the body of literature — the message still alive and strong. Here, Beat scholar Ann Charters presents a wide sampling from the movement's literary canon. One innovation beyond standard Beat anthologies is the recognition and inclusion of writings by some of the Beat writers' wives and girlfriends.

George-Warren, Holly, ed. The Rolling Stone Book of the Beats: The Beat Generation and American Culture. New York: Hyperion, 1999.

In a rousing collection of previously published articles and new original essays, Rolling Stone digs into its long affiliation with the Beat Generation to bring forth a serious book of information. Divided into six sections, there is a kaleidoscope of reviews, editorials, drawings, and testimonials attesting to the spirited life of the Movement, and the depths of its effects on today's culture.

Ginsberg, Allen. The Best Minds of my Generation: A Literary History of the Beats. New York: Grove Press, 2017.

Presents a collection of lectures given by Allen Ginsberg in which he discusses other members of the Beat Generation, including Jack Kerouac and Peter Orlovsky, both as friends and as revolutionaries.


Ginsberg, Allen. Snapshot Poetics: Allen Ginsberg's Photographic Memoir of the Beat Era. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 1993.

The poet Allen Ginsberg only began to take his photography seriously in 1953. This was, coincidentally, the last year that the original Beat writers would ever spend a length of time together in New York City.   Over 70 of Ginsberg's striking photographs and hand-scrawled captions document this moment in time and later periods in the Beats' lives. The captions read like a diary of Ginsberg's strong feelings for the men that he photographed.


Harvey, Pekar. The Beats: A Graphic HistoryNew York: Hill and Wang, 2009.

A tour of America's underground literary movement, presented in a graphic tale format, includes coverage of the Benzedrine-fueled antics of Jack Kerouac, Chicago's beatnik bistro, and San Francisco's City Lights bookstore.


Inchausti, Robert. Hard to be a Saint in the City: The Spiritual Vision of the Beats. Shambhala, 2018.

An exploration of Beat spirituality, seen through excerpts from the writings of the seminal writers of Beat Generation themselves.


Kashner, Sam. When I was Cool: My Life at the Jack Kerouac SchoolNew York: Harper Collins, 2004.

Follows the author's apprenticeship to Allen Ginsberg and the other members of the Beats at the "Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics," a period during which he met a range of musicians, writers, and celebrities.

Knight, Brenda, ed. Women of the Beat Generation: The Writers, Artists and Muses at the Heart of a RevolutionBerkeley: Conari Press, 1996.

Profiling forty women writers and artists, an intriguing survey of the Beat Generation showcases the work of Joyce Johnson, Joan Vollmer Adams Burroughs, Joanne Kyger, Diane DiPrima, and others and includes bibliographies, commentary, photographs, and anecdotes about each woman.

Kopp, Zack. Denver Beat Scene: The Mile-High Legacy of Kerouac, Cassady and GinsbergCharleston, SC: History Press, 2015.

The Beat Generation descended on Denver with feverish intensity. Home to Neal Cassady and favorite stomping ground for both Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg, the Mile-High City still pulses with the energy that made it a nerve center for cultural change and a sanctuary for the spoken word community. Author and Beat historian Zack Kopp pairs a narrative history of the movement with a
stop-by-stop guide to its Denver landmarks and hot spots.

Lee, Robert A. ed. The Beat Generation WritersEast Haven, Conn.: Pluto Press, 1996.

Focuses on some of the most popular writers of the last forty years. One of the few books to explore the role of women and gender in the Beat movement.

McDarrah, Fred W., and Gloria S. McDarrah. Beat Generation: Glory Days in Greenwich Village. New York: Schirmer, 1996.

As photographer and picture editor for the Village Voice for more than 35 years, Fred McDarrah possessed a wealth of Beat history, some of it on film that had never been developed. With a resurgence of interest in the Beats, McDarrah and his wife chose 250 photos to pay homage to the Beat scene in New York City's Greenwich Village of the 1950s. At the time the Village was an inexpensive place to live, where young people swarmed for poetry readings and parties — and McDarrah's photographs capture it all in full swing. Also included are some Beat poems reproduced in their original typescript with revisions marked by the authors.

Morgan, Bill. The Beat Generation in New York: A Walking Tour of Jack Kerouac's City San Francisco: City Lights Books, 1997.

Set off on the eternal trail of the Beat experience in the city that inspired many of Jack Kerouac's best-loved novels including On the RoadVanity of DuluozThe Town and the Cityand Desolation Angels. This is the ultimate guide to Kerouac's New York, packed with photos of the Beat Generation and filled with undercover information and little-known anecdotes.


Morgan, Bill. The Beat Generation in San Francisco: A Literary TourSan Francisco: City Lights Books, 2003.

A blow-by-blow unearthing of the places where the Beat writers first came to full bloom: the flat where Ginsberg wrote "Howl;" Gary Snyder’s zen cottage in Berkeley; the ghostly railroad yards where Kerouac and Cassady toiled; the pads where Jack & Neal & Carolyn lived; Ferlinghetti’s favorite haunts.


Newhouse, Thomas. The Beat Generation and the Popular Novel in the United States, 1945-1970. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2000.

Newhouse assesses the literary legacy of the Beat writers. He locates the concerns of Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, and William Burroughs in a deep satisfaction with America as a spiritual wasteland filled with intolerable repression and conformity. This led the Beats to advocate a liberation through hedonistic self-indulgence and identification with those on the margins of the society.


Nicosia, Gerald and Anne Marie Santos. One and Only: The Untold Story of On the Road and Lu Anne Henderson, The Woman Who Started Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassady on their Journey. Berkeley, CA: Viva Editions, 2011.

Relies on personal interviews to tell the life of Lu Anne Henderson, focusing on her role in On the Road, marriage to Neal Cassady, friendship with Jack Kerouac, and impact on the Beat Generation.


Peabody, Richard, ed. A Different Beat: Writings by Women of the Beat GenerationLondon: Serpent's Tail, 1997.

Includes selections from Carolyn Cassady, Joyce Johnson, Jan Kerouac, Margaret Randall, Laura Ulewicz, and Anne Waldman.


Phillips, Lisa. Beat Culture and the New America: 1950-1965. New York: Whitney Museum of American Art in association with Flammarion, 1995.

Published as a companion volume to an art exhibit held at New York's Whitney Museum in 1995-96, this work includes reproductions (some color) of paintings, photographs, collages, drawings, and sculptures of Beat artists. Interspersed with the artwork are individually authored chapters on subjects such as the Black Beats, the culture's affinity for jazz, and Beat film. The piece by Maurice Berger, “Libraries Full of Tears: The Beats and the Law,” gives a striking account of a time when censors were strong and homophobia virulent.

Sterritt, David. Screening the Beats: Media Culture and the Beat Sensibility. Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University Press, 2004.

A film critic showcases the social and aesthetic viewpoints of Beat writers Jack Kerouac, William S. Burroughs, and Allen Ginsberg. Tapping into the diversified spirit of the Beat Generation and its nuanced relationship with postwar American culture, Sterritt considers how the Beats variously foreground, challenge, and illuminate major issues in Hollywood and avant-garde film, critical and cultural theory, and music in the mass-media age.


Suiter, John. Poets on the Peaks: Jack Kerouac, Gary Snyder & Philip Whalen in the North Cascades. Washington, D.C.: Counterpoint, 2002.

Uses photographs and previously unpublished letters, journals, and recent interviews to present a portrait of the three poets, centered around their individual experiences as fire lookouts in the Pacific Northwest's Cascade Region.



Tytell, John. Paradise Outlaws: Remembering the Beats. New York: William Morrow, 1999.

As a written and photographic memorial, this work combines personal reminiscences and impromptu pictures of Kerouac, Ginsberg, Burroughs, and others. The author, both a Beat scholar and intimate friend of the writers, offers observations and commentary about their social and literary legacy. The personal photographs by the author's wife give an intimate view of the personalities as they aged and changed.

Waldman, Anne, ed. The Beat Book: Poems and Fiction of the Beat Generation. Boston: Shambhala Lion, 1996.

This work, edited by a recognized poet, intends to present a “taste” of the literary time period rather than a standard anthology of the “classic” writings. The focus ends up being on the pure literary voices and their cumulative message. It also includes women and ethnic writers not often recognized in Beat anthologies.


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