He’s ours, after all.
Jack Kerouac may be famous the world over for “On the Road” and other works, but he is inexorably tied to Lowell.
Born Jean-Louis Kerouac in Centralville, Kerouac is as much of the city as he is from it. He graduated from Lowell High School, worked at the Lowell Sun, is buried in Edson Cemetery and was recognized posthumously with an honorary Doctor of Letters degree from UMass Lowell in 2007. Five of his many novels are set here, including "The Town and the City," "Visions of Gerard," "Doctor Sax," "Maggie Cassidy," and "Vanity of Duluoz."
“Jack Kerouac is Lowell’s leading identifying element across the country and around the world,” says Paul Marion, executive director of community and cultural affairs and editor of “Atop an Underwood” – a book containing previously unpublished early Kerouac works.
To capitalize on the artist’s connection to the city, the University worked with the National Park Service to create a Jack Kerouac Orientation Exhibit for the Park's Visitor Center downtown, which has a ribbon-cutting ceremony scheduled for the annual Kerouac Literary Festival in the fall.
Now, thanks in part to a $5,000 Mass Humanities Award, Marion and English Prof. Michael Millner will oversee part two of their plan to lay claim to the famed scribe by developing the definitive Kerouac website. These funds are in addition to a 2010 Creative Economy grant of $35,000 from the UMass President's Office.
“(Kerouac estate executor) John Sampas is allowing us to use the web domain name www.jackkerouac.com,” says Marion. “We’re creating the best, most inclusive and accurate site for all things Jack.”
According to Millner, a key element of the website will be a virtual tour of the exhibit – beefed up with multi-media tabs and important links to key reference sites like the New York Public Library which houses the writer’s papers.
“People from around the globe are interested in Kerouac. This site will be a wonderful resource for them while reinforcing his significant connections to our city,” he says.