Who is Jack Kerouac?

By Reda Tipton


Jack Kerouac was a writer with vision; he inhaled his countrymen's dreams into his soul and exhaled the love of his country in his writing.  Brilliant, with a photographic memory, he wrote constantly about real people and real events.  He exploded into the nation's consciousness in 1957 with the publication of On the Road.  Like a mirror held up to Eisenhower's America, the book reflected not Ozzy & Harriet but hobo camps and juke joints across the continent.  The novel was a torch ablaze against the dreary Cold War landscape, and the Beat Generation had found its voice.

Jean-Louis Kerouac was born in Lowell, Massachusetts to French-Canadian parents. Brought up in a mystical form of Catholicism, and deeply spiritual by nature, his life's quest included religious exploration. In the mid-1950s, while attending college, he and his best friend, the poet Allen Ginsberg, began to study Buddhism.  Much of his work reflects the journey towards enlightenment.


"Who's Jack Kerouac?" - a brief biography of the author of "On the Road"
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Jack's novel, The Dharma Bums, relates the search for Dharma, or Truth, taken by two young men, centering on a mountain climb into the high Sierras with detours into the Bohemian scene in San Francisco.  The book remains a how-to guide for both spiritual and physical seekers.

In October 1969, while watching the Galloping Gourmet on television, Jack began to hemorrhage and died hours later, a classic drunkard's death. He became a mythic figure, his writings directly influencing artists such as the Doors, Lenny Bruce and Bob Dylan.  With over 22 works in print, his "beatific quest for peace and joy" is still embraced today.

"Jack" -  mixed media work by Australian artist Trudy Rowe
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"Jack" -  mixed media work by Australian artist Trudy Rowe, specializing in Kerouac and other figures of the Beat Generation
Free Beat Studios - artists' collective in Australia
Free Beat Studios - artists' collective in AustraliaFree Beat Studios - artists' collective in AustraliaFree Beat Studios - artists' collective in Australia
Free Beat Studios - artists' collective in Australia
Jack Kerouac 1922-1969 drawing by Laurel Burke
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