Neal Cassady’s Jack Kerouac letter to auction

The famous letter Neal Cassady sent to Jack Kerouac in December 1950 is up for auction.

Cassady wrote the meandering, stream of consciousness text whilst in the grip of a three day Benzedrine high.

It's 16,000 words long and relates his complex love life. 

Jack Kerouac Cassidy

Neal Cassidy wrote to Jack Kerouac whilst high on Benzedrine 

It’s since become known as the Joan Anderson Letter, in reference to a girlfriend who makes repeated appearances throughout the text.

Kerouac was so inspired by the letter that he bashed out On the Road, his magnum opus, in just three weeks.

He explained what Cassady’s letter meant to him in a 1968 interview with the Paris Review: “It was the greatest piece of writing I ever saw, better’n anybody in America, or at least enough to make (Herman) Melville, (Mark) Twain, (Theodore) Dreiser, (Thomas) Wolfe, I dunno who, spin in their graves.”

The letter was thought to have been lost for many years (Kerouac believed a friend of Alan Ginsberg had dropped it off the side of a houseboat) but recently surfaced again in 2012.

It was discovered in the archives of the Golden Goose Press, a San Francisco-based publisher that went under in the mid-1950s.  

The lot will cross the block at Heritage Auctions’ Rare Books Signature sale in New York on March 3. It’s valued in excess of $100,000.

Heritage comments: "Original literary material of any kind by Cassady is virtually unknown in the market and in the auction archives.

"This offering presents a unique opportunity to acquire an original typescript of soaring literary significance, and a foundational document in the history of beat literature and its ensuing influence on the Beat Generation."

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