Neal Cassady – 1926-1968
Cassady never wrote a novel or a poem, but he was a driving force behind the “Beat Generation” of writers during the 1950s and early 1960s, figuring as a principal character in the novel Go (1952) by John Clellon Holmes, considered the first work of “Beat” literature, and in the most famous Beat novel, Jack Kerouac’s On the Road (1957), as well as other works. He had been raised by an alcoholic father on Denver’s skid row and grew into a thief and con artist. He met Kerouac and the poet Alan Ginsberg in 1946 and served as the subject-catalyst for them and their circle—the embodiment of the sensitive outlaw spirit, born of America, yet apart from it. He died of exposure and acute alcoholic intoxication in Mexico in 1968.