Jack Kerouac was an American novelist and poet. He is considered a literary iconoclast and, alongside William S. Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg, a pioneer of the Beat Generation. Kerouac is recognized for his spontaneous method of writing, covering topics such as Catholic spirituality, jazz, promiscuity, Buddhism, drugs, poverty, and travel.
Jack Kerouac was born in Lowell, Massachusetts, to French-Canadian parents.
In 1969, at age 47, Kerouac died from internal bleeding due to long-standing abuse of alcohol.
Kerouac's athletic skills as a running back in American football for Lowell High School earned him scholarship offers from Boston College, Notre Dame and Columbia University. He entered Columbia University after spending a year at Horace Mann School, where he earned the requisite grades to matriculate to Columbia. Kerouac cracked a tibia playing football during his freshman season, and he argued constantly with Coach Lou Little who kept him benched.
While at Columbia, Kerouac wrote several sports articles for the student newspaper, the Columbia Daily Spectator and joined the fraternity of Phi Gamma Delta.
Kerouac is generally considered to be the father of the Beat movement, although he actively disliked such labels. Kerouac's method was heavily influenced by the prolific explosion of Jazz, especially the Bebop genre . Later, Kerouac included ideas he developed from his Buddhist studies that began with Gary Snyder. He often referred to his style as spontaneous prose.
Although Kerouac’s prose was spontaneous and purportedly without edits, he primarily wrote autobiographical novels based upon actual events from his life and the people with whom he interacted.
Many of his books exemplified this spontaneous approach, including On the Road, Visions of Cody, Visions of Gerard, Big Sur, and The Subterraneans. The central features of this writing method were the ideas of breath (borrowed from Jazz and from Buddhist meditation breathing), improvising words over the inherent structures of mind and language, and not editing a single word (much of his work was edited by Donald Merriam Allen, a major figure in Beat Generation poetry who edited some of Ginsberg's work as well).