Jack Kerouac, one of America’s most beloved authors and poets and a pioneer of the Beat Generation, was born in Lowell, Massachusetts on March 22, 1922. The child of two Canadian immigrants, French was Kerouac’s first language, but the writer undoubtedly perfected the art of English literature as he grew older. After graduating from Lowell High School in 1939, Kerouac spent a year at the prepartory school Horace Mann School for Boys in the Bronx before heading to Columbia University on a football scholarship. After being injured and unsatisfied with his role on the football team, he impulsively quit the team and dropped out of college. Kerouac then spent some time working random jobs, but eventually ended up joining the military for short time during World War II, but was honorably discharged after only 10 days of service for what his medical report deemed as trends of a personality disorder. Following his discharge, Kerouac returned to New York City, and befriended Allen Ginsberg and William Burroughs–a friendship that eventually led to the birth of the Beat Generation. However, it was Kerouac’s relationship with Neal Cassady that inspired Kerouac’s famous novel On The Road and led him to Denver. Kerouac greatly loved Denver, especially the highly notable jazz scene in Five Points, which he wrote about in depth in On The Road. Traces of his presence can still be found all around Denver, especially with an art project entitled “Jack Was Here” by Denver graffiti artist Theo, which places stencils of Kerouac’s face above the phrase “Jack Was Here” on places in the city the he frequently visited in the 1940s and 50s. On The Road, which was published in 1957, led to great fame for Kerouac, yet it’s said that he was never able to fully cope with that fame, and turned to alcohol and drugs for support. Kerouac died at the age of 47 in St. Petersburg, Florida due to an abdominal hemorrhage.
Written by Jonina Diele