Kerouac’s Legendary 120-Foot Scroll
The story goes that Jack Kerouac wrote the original draft of On The Road in just three weeks and on a single 120-foot scroll of paper while living with his second wife in a Manhattan apartment on West 20th Street. All of that fueled by coffee and benzedrine, legend goes. He actually taped individual pieces of paper together to create the scroll.
Over the next 6 years, Kerouac would revise the text until On The Road was finally published in 1957. He wrote the scroll single space, without paragraph breaks. Also, of legend, the last few pages of the scroll were ripped because a dog named “Patchkee” ate them up.
Super rich guy Jim Irsay, who is the owner of the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts, bought the original scroll for $2.4 million in 2001. Since then, Irsay has made the scroll available for public viewing on several occasions. The picture to the left shows the scroll at the Boott Cotton Mills museum in Massachusetts in 2007.
Penguin Classics now says an edition of the novel based on Kerouac’s original scroll–published as it was before those grubby editors ever got their hands on it.
Anyway, cool thing. No one writes like this anymore, and it’s the stuff of legend.