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On the Road: Jack Kerouac's manuscript scroll

Until Thursday 27 December 2012

On the Road is one of the defining books of the Beat Generation.

Written over a period of three weeks in April 1951 in manic bursts of what Allen Ginsberg referred to as ‘spontaneous bop prosody’, Jack Kerouac typed the manuscript on rolls of tracing paper, which he taped together into a long scroll to avoid replacing paper at the end of the page and interrupting his creative flow.

We are delighted to welcome the 120-foot-long scroll to London for the first time. It will be on display in a specially-constructed case, alongside sound and printed materials from the Library’s collection.

Image courtesy of Carolyn Cassady

Free / Folio Society Gallery

With support from the Eccles Centre for American Studies at the British Library

Image courtesy of Christie's New York. The manuscript is on loan from the collection of James S. Irsay © Estate of Anthony G. Sampatacacus and the Estate of Jan Kerouac