Born Jean-Louis Kerouac in Lowell Massachusetts in 1922, Jack Kerouac grew up through the Great Depression. He served in the Merchant Marines during World War II. After the war he traveled and settled in New York City to be where his favorite writer Thomas Wolfe had lived. He also traveled the country and worked at times for the railroad. Jack became a writer and spent some of the most productive years of his life between New York and Rocky Mount. Jack’s sister Carolyn had married Paul Blake and was living near Rocky Mount. His family lived on Tarboro Street in Edgecombe County before moving to the Big Easonburg Woods. It is there that Kerouac wrote about life, and composed his most famous work On the Road. That book published in 1957 has never gone out of print. In his book, he describes a fictional town in Virginia, much like Wolfe did in his works about Asheville. Kerouac was writing his experiences here in Rocky Mount. He also wrote about the area in another book, The Dharma Bums. Kerouac is considered to be the father of the Beat Generation, a new style of writing and that appeared in the 1950s and therefore one of the most significant writers of the 20th century. You can learn more about Kerouac in John Dorner’s 1991 work Kerouac: Visions of Rocky Mount. Kerouac died in 1969 at the age of 47.
Inducted into Hall of Fame 2012