Carolyn Cassady Dies: Beat Generation Writer in 'On the Road' Passes Away

Tuesday, 24 Sep 2013 03:11 PM

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Carolyn Cassady, a Beat Generation writer who first appeared as a character in Jack Kerouac's 1957 novel "On the Road," died Friday in Bracknell, England, after suffering complications from an emergency appendectomy. She was 90.

Cassady was married to Neal Cassady — another central character in the Beat generation and also the basis of the character Dean Moriarty in Kerouac's "On the Road" — for around 20 years. The couple had three children.

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She was also a close friend of Beat poet Allen Ginsberg, and chronicled her experiences with the three in the memoir "Off the Road: My Years with Cassady, Kerouac, and Ginsberg," published in 1990. The memoir, which was rereleased in 2007 to coincide with the 50th anniversary of Kerouac's seminal novel, was one of many attempts Cassady made to correct what she saw as myths about the Beat Generation and misrepresentation of her husband.

"I've tried to share my memories," she told Britain's Telegraph newspaper in 2012. "But people just don't seem to want to hear. They prefer to believe the other version."

Carolyn Cassady was born in Lansing, Mich., in 1923 and grew up in Nashville, Tenn. She first met a then-married Neal Cassady, Kerouac, and Ginsberg while she was at the University of Denver getting a masters' degree in Fine Arts and Theater Arts. She and Neil Cassady married in 1948 — after he had obtained a divorce from his wife.

They had three children and were married for around 15 years. She also had an affair with Kerouac — at Neal Cassady's urging, Carolyn said.

In the 2011 English-language Swedish documentary film titled "Love Always, Carolyn," she said it was "Neal's wish to share me" with Kerouac. "I was against it, to begin with, but it was a survival for me to keep the man I loved."

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