Jan Kerouac

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Jan Kerouac
Jan Kerouac in Eugene, Oregon (1983)
Jan Kerouac in Eugene, Oregon (1983)
BornJanet Michelle Kerouac
(1952-02-16)February 16, 1952
Albany, New York, U.S.
DiedJune 5, 1996(1996-06-05) (aged 44)
Albuquerque, New Mexico, U.S.
Resting placeSaint Louis De Gonzague Cemetery
RelativesJack Kerouac
Joan Haverty Kerouac

Janet Michelle "Jan" Kerouac (February 16, 1952 – June 5, 1996) was an American writer and the only child of beat generation author Jack Kerouac and Joan Haverty Kerouac.

Early life and career[edit]

Janet Michelle Kerouac was born a few months after her parents separated. Jack Kerouac met his daughter for the first time when she was ten years old, when he took a blood test to prove or disprove his paternity. Jan only met him once more, when she visited him at his home in Lowell, Massachusetts.[1]

In 1964, Jan Kerouac was briefly in a girl group called The Whippets[2] The group, which consisted of Kerouac, Charlotte Rosenthal, and Bibbe Hansen, released one single, "I Want to Talk to You," a song response to the song "I Want to Hold Your Hand." The B-side, "Go Go Go with Ringo," also reflected the Beatlemania of the time. The single did not chart or get much airplay, and the Whippets broke up.

Jan Kerouac lived much of her early life in poverty, sometimes turning to prostitution to survive.[3] She traveled widely, living in South America, Europe, and many different cities in the United States.


Encouraged by Kerouac biographer Gerald Nicosia, she entered into a lawsuit in the 1990s that proposed the will of Jack's mother, Gabrielle Kerouac, was a forgery, in the hope winning could expand her legal rights to her father's works and physical property. Eventually a court ruled that the will was a forgery, although in practical terms this ruling changed nothing concerning control of the Kerouac estate.[4]


Kerouac published three semi-autobiographical novels, Baby Driver: A Story About Myself in 1981,[5][6] Trainsong in 1988 and posthumously published Parrot Fever in 2000.


On June 5, 1996, Kerouac died in Albuquerque, New Mexico, a day after her spleen was removed. She had suffered kidney failure five years earlier and was on dialysis.[7]


The Beat Generation: An American Dream (1988)

What Happened to Kerouac? (1986)


Books by Kerouac[edit]

  • Kerouac, Jan (1981). Baby Driver: A Story About Myself (1st ed.). New York City: St. Martin's Press. ISBN 0030625386.
  • Kerouac, Jan (June 22, 1998). Baby Driver: A Story About Myself (Expanded ed.). Boston, Massachusetts: Da Capo Press. ISBN 1560251840.
  • Kerouac, Jan (August 14, 1998). Trainsong. Thunder's Mouth Press. ISBN 1560251654.
  • Kerouac, Jan (1988). Trainsong (1 ed.). New York City: Henry Holt and Company.
  • Kerouac, Jan (2000). Parrot Fever. Thunder's Mouth Press. ISBN 1560252081. Written in 1992–1993, and published posthumously.[8]

Books about Kerouac[edit]

  • Nicosia, Gerald (2009). Jan Kerouac: A Life In Memory. Noodlebrain Press. ISBN 978-0615245546.

Further reading[edit]


  1. ^ Viren, Sarah (20 March 2018). "Writing with Jack Kerouac, Ghost Father". Lit Hub. Retrieved 16 March 2021.
  2. ^ ."Lost in the Grooves: The Secret History of the Whippets, a NYC girl group". Lost in the Grooves. 12 December 2005. Retrieved 16 March 2021.
  3. ^ Moore, Judith. "Anybody Who Saw Jan Kerouac Knew She Was Jack's Daughter | San Diego Reader". San Diego Reader. Retrieved 16 March 2021.
  4. ^ Brown, Mick (2009-10-28). "The battle for Jack Kerouac's estate". The Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 2019-03-06.
  5. ^ Kaufman, Alan (1999). The Outlaw Bible of American Poetry. Thunder's Mouth Press. pp. 660. ISBN 1560252278. She is the author of two novels, Baby Driver and Trainsong, published before her death to wide critical praise.
  6. ^ Brenda Knight Women of the Beat Generation: The Writers, Artists and Muses at the 1998 1573241385 Two of her autobiographical novels, Baby Driver and Trainsong, are similar to the narrative style that her father employed, but Jan Kerouac seems to be able to detach herself from her circumstances more than her father was able to and writes ...
  7. ^ "Jan Kerouac, 44, the Novelist And Daughter of a Beat Icon". The New York Times. June 8, 1996. Retrieved April 2, 2010.
  8. ^ "Jan Kerouac: A Life In Memory". City Lights Books. October 7, 2009. Retrieved 2019-03-06.

External links[edit]

  • “Jan Kerouac.” Public Radio International, 11 Sept. 2004, www.pri.org/stories/2004-09-11/jan-kerouac.
  • Jan Kerouac Obituary
  • New York Times story
  • “THE LAST DAYS OF JAN KEROUAC: Gerald Nicosia Interviewed by Oliver Harris.” European Beat Studies Network, European Beat Studies Network/ Word Press, 5 Sept. 2017, ebsn.eu/scholarship/interviews/the-last-days-of-jan-kerouac-gerald-nicosia-interviewed-by-oliver-harris/.