Written in frenetic bursts over a three week period in April 1951, On the Road is one of the defining books of the Beat Generation. It has had a huge influence on literature, music and film, as well as inspiring a whole new way of writing in a spontaneous, stream-of-conscious way.
Feel like being inspired this weekend? Then head over to the British Library to witness an iconic piece of literary history. The library is currently showing the original 120-foot-long scroll in which Jack Kerouac typed the manuscript for On the Road. The timeless tale is on display in a specially constructed case, alongside sound and printed materials from the Library’s collection.
On the Road portrays the story of an intense personal journey for belonging and self worth. The two main characters in the book are the narrator, Salvatore “Sal” Paradise, and his new friend Dean Moriarty, who is a free spirit keen to explore and experience the highs and lows of the open road.
The novel is largely autobiographical, with Sal being the alter ego of the author and Dean representing author and poet, Neal Cassady.
This year On the Road has also made a comeback on the silver screen, in a film starring Garrett Hedlund and Kristen Stewart. The movie premiered at the Cannes Film Festival on the 23rd of May this year, and then on the 12th of October in the UK. It will premiere in the US on the 21st of December.
Viewing Jack Kerouac's manuscript scroll is free of charge and will be at the British Library until Thursday the 27th of December. Find out more here.