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Media Contacts

Ryan Piurek
Media Relations

Becky Cape
Lilly Library

Last modified: Tuesday, January 21, 2003

Original manuscript of Kerouac's "On the Road" to make first stop at IUB's Lilly Library

EDITORS: Media who are interested in previewing the Kerouac exhibit are invited to attend a special media-only event at the Lilly Library on Saturday, Feb. 1, from 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. Jim Canary, head of special collections conservation at the Lilly Library, will be on hand to speak to reporters. Canary spearheaded the preservation of the original On the Road manuscript and will accompany it on its nationwide tour. Also available for interviews will be Breon Mitchell, director of the Lilly Library, and Chris Harter, curator of the concurrent Beats exhibition. For more information, contact Becky Cape, Lilly Library, at 812-855-3129,; Eric Bartheld, IU Libraries, at 812-856-4817,; or Ryan Piurek, IU Media Relations, at 812-855-5393,

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- The original manuscript of Jack Kerouac's famed Beat Generation novel On the Road will be on display at the Lilly Library on Indiana University's Bloomington campus beginning Feb. 4. The exhibition, which will run through May 10, is the first stop of a coast-to-coast tour of the unique manuscript. The exhibition is free and open to the public.

Various sections of the manuscript -- a scroll that extends 119 feet, 8 inches -- will be showcased over the three-month exhibition period, giving visitors to the Lilly Library the opportunity to view multiple portions of the typewritten text. The manuscript has been provided courtesy of the James Irsay family.

"We are honored to be the first stop of the national tour," said Suzanne Thorin, Ruth Lilly University Dean of University Libraries. "And we are grateful to the Irsays for making this exhibition possible."

On the Road has been described as one of the most significant books of the Beat Generation. Kerouac's original manuscript was typewritten single-spaced onto 10 12-foot lengths of paper that were taped together. According to most biographers, Kerouac wrote the book during a 21-day period of non-stop writing, finishing it on April 22, 1951. Since On the Road was first published by Viking Press it has sold more than 3 million copies and has been translated into 25 languages.

Purchased at an auction by Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay for $2.2 million (plus a buyer's premium of $226,000), the acquisition set a world record for a literary manuscript at auction.

The Lilly Library, recognized internationally for its collections in American history and literature, is the library for rare books and manuscripts at IUB. A complementary exhibition on the Beats also will be on display at the Lilly Library in February.

The Lilly Library is open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The library is located at 1200 E. Seventh St., south of Showalter Fountain on the Bloomington campus.