The Cassady-Kerouac “Joan Anderson letter” – “the seminal piece of literature of the Beat Generation” rediscovered


Catalog cover for the upcoming (December 17 2014) auction of the Golden Goose Press Archive Collection at Profiles in History, Calabasas, California

The legendary Joan Anderson letter (the Beat Generation’s so-called “holy grail”)  has emerged! – in its entirety! – after a sixty-or-more year hiatus!

AP’s John Rogers reports today that the “16,000 (word) amphetamine-fueled stream-of-consciousness” note to Jack Kerouac from Neal Cassady will be part of a December 17 auction at Joe Maddalena‘s Southern California auction house, Profiles in History.

“It’s the seminal piece of literature of the Beat Generation”, Maddalena is quoted as saying, “and there are so many rumors and speculation of what happened to it”.

Turns out it didn’t disappear on  And there it stayed, until a mere two years ago, when “Los Angeles performance artist Jean Spinosa fortuitously unearthed it

The extraordinary story of the re-discovery of this letter is quite a story!  Here’s Jerry Cimino of the Beat Museum’s account (having previously been sworn to secrecy). As he notes, the on-line catalog “with all the photos and important details”, “probably goes live on Monday”

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Neal Cassady and Jack Kerouac


  1. Charles Plymell tried posting this earlier today, but we couldn't get it to work, so am posting it for him:

    Much greater literature than Kerouac! Though I've never read On The Road except for excerpts in my face in lit anthologies & the parts Neal read to me about himself. I was surprised at Neal's remarkable style, which is not the Benzedrine novelty one would have you believe. Only caught a couple of errors, I lived in a flat on Gough St. where Neal & Allen (& Ann) moved in with me ostensibly to help Neal write his First Third for Ferlinghetti to publish. I had met them earlier when I was having a party after Allen returned from India with Beat Generation in tow. He was supposed to go to many parties that night. I'm sure Gerd Stern (PLEASE!) was on the list. As I sat days later while the two great academic Beats (Sorbonne & Columbia) tried to make Neal write the learn'd prose, I knew it wouldn't work. Neal was even faster with word association at that time! The First Third was finally published, but I never thought much of it. Poor Neal. No wonder he had an underlying hostility for being the "errand boy" for the famous names who had no story but him. All of whom could not hold a candle to this writing, which is not a Benzedrine rush as much as accomplished prose of a great writer. Charles Plymell , Cherry Valley, NY Nov, 2014

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