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The Beats

The Beat Generation originally referred to a small group of friends who used to meet in Manhattan. The main members of the early group were Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, William Burroughs and Gregory Corso. They had in common a love of jazz, drugs and poetry, an association with drifters and literary experimentation, often spontaneous writing. Several of them were gay or bisexual. The term was allegedly first coined by Kerouac, from the expression beaten down or tired. However, it was John Clellon Holmes who wrote the first beat novel, called Go, and who published a literary manifesto for the group in the New York Times. The group gradually migrated to San Francisco, where
Lawrence Ferlinghetti
had founded the City Lights bookstore. By this time, Burroughs and Kerouac had already written their early novels. Kerouac had taken several road trips with Neal Cassady and when he published his novel, On the Road, about these trips, it had considerable influence on a wider group of writers. While the poetry of such writers as Ginsberg and Corso was highly influential and respected, the novels of Kerouac and Burroughs also influenced many writers both in the USA and abroad. The Beats also influenced many musicians, particularly in the field of rock.

Books on the Beats

James Campbell: This Is the Beat Generation: New York-San Francisco-Paris
Ann Charters (editor): Beat Down to Your Soul: What Was the Beat Generation?
Ann Charters (editor): Beats: Literary Bohemians in Postwar America
Ann Charters (editor): The Portable Beat Reader
Bruce Cook: The Beat Generation: The Tumultuous ’50’s Movement and Its Impact on Today
Gene Feldman: The Beat Generation and the Angry Young Men
Edward Halsey Foster: Understanding the Beats
Holly George-Warren: The Rolling Stone Book of the Beats: The Beat Generation and American Culture
Kurt Hemmer (editor): Encyclopedia of Beat Literature
Joyce Johnson: Minor Characters: A Beat Memoir
Ronna C. Johnson: Girls Who Wore Black: Women Writing the Beat Generation
Arthur Winfield Knight (editor): The Beat Vision
Brenda Knight (editor): Women of the Beat Generation: The Writers, Artists and Muses at the Heart of a Revolution
Fred W. and Gloria S. McDarrah: Beat Generation: Glory Days in Greenwich Village
Dennis McNally: Desolate Angel: Jack Kerouac, the Beat Generation, and America
David Meltzer (editor): San Francisco Beat Talking with the Poets
Barry Miles (editor): Beat Collection
Barry Miles: The Beat Hotel: Ginsberg, Burroughs & Corso in Paris, 1957-1963
Bill Morgan: The Beat Generation in New York
Bill Morgan: The Beat Generation in San Francisco
Kostas Myrsiades (editor): The Beat Generation: Critical Essays
Richard Peabody: A Casebook on the Beat
Thomas Francis Parkinson: A Different Beat: Writing by Women of the Beat Generation
Lisa Philips (editor): Beat Culture and the New America-1950-1965
Matt Theado (editor): The Beats: A Literary Reference
John Tytell: Naked Angels: The Lives and Literature of the Beat Generation
Steven Watson: The Birth of the Beat Generation: Visionaries, Rebels, and Hipsters, 1944-1960
Anne Waldman (editor): The Beat Book: Writings from the Beat Generation

See also:

Bibliography: The Beat Generation
Sherri’s Beat bibliography

Other links

The Beat Generation (also links to pages on Kerouac, Cassady, etc.)
Beat Generation Resources Page
The Beat Generation
The Beat Generation
Beat Generation
The Beat Generation Archives
A Cultural Chronology of Early Beat Generation Literature
Rebels: Painters and Poets of the 1950s
Beat Link of the Day
The Beat Papers of Al Aronowitz
BeatScene The magazine of the Beat Generation
The Death Of The Beat Generation
Unspeakable Visions: The Beat Generation and The Bohemian Dialectic
This Is The Beat Generation (article by John Clellon Holmes)
Black Mountain College Project (an experimental college with which many beats were associated)
Beat Angel (“a film about the spirit of Jack Kerouac”)
Juxtaposition of Wor[l]ds: The Cultural and Literary Legacy of the Beat Generation
Breaking Fifties’ Conformity: Beatitude & Confession (lots of interesting links)

Regional Beats

Denver Colorado Neal Cassady and the Beat Generation
Beats In Kansas: The Beat Generation in the Heartland
Beats NY

Bookshops selling beat material

City Lights bookstore
Water Row Books
Kerouac.com (bookstore specializing in the Beat Generation – also T-shirts, videos, etc.)
Empty Mirror (Empty Mirror, bookstore in specializing the Beat Generation and related topics)

Jack Kerouac
Jack Kerouac page

William Burroughs
William Burroughs page

Neal Cassady

The Visions of Neal & The Beats

Gregory Corso

Gregory Corso
Gregory Corso
Gregory Corso
A Tribute to Gregory Corso

Diane di Prima

Diane di Prima
Diane di Prima
Diane di Prima

Allen Ginsberg

Allen Ginsberg
Allen Ginsberg
Dedication to Allen Ginsberg
Allen Ginsberg’s”Howl”: Fifty years later and in its own time
Allen Ginsberg’s FBI file

John Clellon Holmes

John Clellon Holmes
John Clellon Holmes
John Clellon Holmes

Herbert Huncke

Herbert Huncke
Herbert Huncke
Herbert Huncke
Interview with Huncke

Peter Orlovsky

Peter Orlovsky