The ‘Beat Generation’ were a well travelled crew. Best known for crisscrossing the US in search of adventures, ‘kicks’, God and each other, they also ventured out to far flung corners of the globe. They visited London over a period stretching from participation in World War II to readings and signings as late as 1998 – Burroughs actually lived in the city for a number of years.
The most frequent visits took place in the late 50s and 60s, where they met the writers of bohemian Soho and participated in the early days of the underground movement, including intriguing collaborations with people like Paul McCartney and Barry Miles, publisher of International Times (IT). 2005 saw the 50th anniversary of the famous Six Gallery reading in San Francisco that introduced the world to Beat poetry. It was also the 40th anniversary of the International Poetry Incarnation in London’s Albert Hall, which 7,000 people attended.
2006 will be the 50th anniversary of the publication of Allen Ginsberg’s Howl and 2007 will be the 50th anniversary of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road and a major film version (directed by Walter Salles and produced by Francis Ford Coppola), is also due to be released. These five London walks concentrate on the main protagonists – William S Burroughs, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg and Gregory Corso. Distances and approximate timings are given, plus comprehensive directions and sketch maps.
Each walk ends with a recommended pub or two where weary legs can be rested and a toast raised to the writers who inspired a generation.
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