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Jack Kerouac
Birthplace: Lowell, Massachusetts
Typewriter: Underwood early 1930s portable, Royal Standard.

Poet and novelist. Born Jean-Louis Kerouac, onMarch 12, 1922, in Lowell, Massachusetts. He studied at Columbia University (1940-42), and served in the Merchant Marines (1942-43) and the U.S. Navy (1943). After his discharge, Kerouac held a variety of jobs, including merchant seaman and forest ranger, and traveled throughout the United States and Mexico. He published his first novel, The Town and the City in 1950.

The publication of On the Road (1957), a free-flowing, semiautobiographical tale of his wanderings with Neal Cassady, instantly established Kerouac's reputation as a spokesman for the so-called Beat Generation. His friends and fellow Beats, Allen Ginsberg and William Burroughs Jr., were strongly supportive when conservative critics of the day were upset by the subject matt er of the book and by what Kerouac called his "spontaneous prose."

Kerouac's other major works included The Dharma Bums (1958), The Subterraneans (1958), Dr. Sax (1959), Lonesome Traveler (1960), and Desolation Angels (1965). After the tremendous success of On the Road, Kerouac was profoundly disturbed by his loss of privacy. He tried to escape his notoriety by living in California, and wrote about his struggle with his newfound fame in Big Sur (1962), a book which described the price he paid for success. Kerouac lived out his final years with his mother and third wife, Stella Sampas, first in Lowell and later in St. Petersburg, Florida, where he died in 1969. Kerouac's final book, Visions of Cody (an original draft of On the Road) was published posthumously in 1972.

Kerouac had to use a Royal once on one of his many vacations and typed a letter now published in his collected letters, to the effect of "See on a ROYAL...".

According to Allen Ginsberg (who wrote by hand), Kerouac is one of the fastest typists among writers - approaching 110-120 wpm!

Historians believe th at manuscript of the book On the Road was likely typed on a typewrit er owned by Neal and Carolyn Cassidy. K erouac typed book in three weeks while lived in Cassidys’ house.


An early 1930s Underwood portable used by Kerouac as displayed in Lowell National Historical Park Museum:



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