The ‘Joan Anderson’ Letter - The Holy Grail of Beat Literature
by Neal Cassady
Published September 2020
‘The greatest piece of writing I ever saw’
The Black Spring Eyewear Press Group is happy to be the first to publish the most famous letter in Beat generation history - a letter from Neal Cassady to his best friend and travelling companion Jack (On the Road) Kerouac.
Kerouac received the letter from Cassady in 1950 and later told the Paris Review that it had inspired 'On the Road' along with his new literary style; referring to it as ‘the greatest piece of writing I ever saw’. The energy of Cassady’s fast-paced, free-flowing, confessional prose pulsates through the 15,000 word missive; bringing gloriously to life the personality of one of the most high profile figures in literary, and Beat movement, history.
This incredibly illusive artefact, which describes in explicit detail his relationship with Joan Anderson (‘a perfect beauty of loveliness that I forgot everything else’), had been missing for 60 years when it was discovered in an attic in Oakland, USA, in 2011. Legal machinations over its ownership ensued and it has not been published in its entirety…until now.
This much-anticipated letter is now reproduced in full, with an introduction by Beat scholar Professor A. Robert Lee. This jewel of Beat history also includes a range of photographs of the writers and a rare sepia drawing of Neal by his former wife, writer and artist Carolyn Cassady.