Jan Kerouac

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Jan Kerouac
Jan Kerouac 1983.jpg
Jan Kerouac in Eugene, Oregon (1983)
Born Janet Michelle Kerouac
(1952-02-16)February 16, 1952
Albany, New York, U.S.
Died June 5, 1996(1996-06-05) (aged 44)
Albuquerque, New Mexico, U.S.
Resting place Saint Louis De Gonzague Cemetery
Occupation Writer
Nationality American

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]

Kerouac was born in Albany, New York. Her mother left her father while pregnant, and Jack refused to acknowledge the baby as his daughter. A blood test when Jan was nine years old proved his paternity and he was ordered to pay $52 a week for her upbringing. Jan met her father only twice, at the blood test in 1961 and again in 1967, when she visited him at his mother's home in Florida, before traveling to Mexico with her first husband, John Lamb Lash. For the next few decades, she traveled across the country with a fearless curiosity that echoed that of her father and Neal Cassady.

She began to write seriously in the mid 1970s, often seeking guidance through correspondence with her Godfather, Allen Ginsberg.

Jack Kerouac died in 1969 and Jan began a long legal process through the 1970s and 1980s that would eventually give her rights to one-half of the literary revenue from his books sold domestically. Her friendship with Carolyn Cassady bolstered her drive to achieve this--Carolyn once remembering her fondly as a "poor little lost waif." 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. After her death, the lawsuit was dismissed.

Kerouac published two semi-autobiographical novels, Baby Driver in 1981, and Trainsong in 1988. She was working on a third novel, Parrot Fever, at the time of her death.

Personal life[edit]

Jan spent her younger years living with her mother, twin sisters and brother on New York City's Lower East Side. Shortly before the Beatles arrived in the US, she co-formed a girl group, The Whippets, with her friend Bibbe Hansen. Kerouac married and divorced twice. She delivered a stillborn child, Natasha, in 1968. Through the 1970s, she traveled extensively, always eventually returning to the homes of her mother and brother in Washington State. She was a highly skilled baker and painted abstract watercolors.


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.[1] She was survived by twin half-sisters, Katharine and Sharon, and one half-brother, David Stuart.


  • Baby Driver (1981, novel)
  • Trainsong (1988, novel)
  • Parrot Fever (1992–93, unpublished novel)


  1. ^ "Jan Kerouac, 44, the Novelist And Daughter of a Beat Icon". The New York Times. June 8, 1996. Retrieved April 2, 2010. 

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