One of the great mysteries of the Beat Generation is that of Alene Lee. She is, or rather, was, an enigma. Jack Kerouac wrote about her (as Mardou Fox in The Subterraneans and Irene May in Book of Dreams and Big Sur) but the depictions he gave weren’t particularly accurate.

Lee guarded her privacy and so for many years little has been known about her. A few photographs exist, and there are some references to her in a few books (with nothing in the books specifically regarding the women of the Beat Generation), but not a lot was known until recently.

In Beatdom #4 Steven O’Sullivan wrote a fantastic essay about her, after doing some extensive research. You can read that essay here for free.

After reading the essay, Lee’s daughter contacted Beatdom and offered us some never-before read work: An essay about the life of Alene Lee, some excerpts from the writings of Alene Lee, and an entire short story by Alene Lee.

These were all published in the sixth issue of Beatdom, and comprise the largest published collection of Alene Lee material anywhere in the world.

You can read all of this in the most recent issue of the magazine, available for free here.

David S. Wills

David S. Wills is the founder and editor of Beatdom literary journal and the author of Scientologist! William S. Burroughs the Weird Cult and World Citizen: Allen Ginsberg as Traveller. His next book, High White Notes: The Rise and Fall of Gonzo Journalism comes out in November, 2021.

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  • Would any survivors of the Beat Era who knew Alene Lee please contact me, her daughter, for additional information needed to complete my thesis? Is Al Aronowitz still out there (my mom's dear friend), or Lenny Rubin (who rescued me one night in front of the Fat Black Pussy Cat), or Pat Tobias (my mom's first Greenwich Village friend!)

    • Hi Christina,

      I would love to talk about Alene, as I am writing a book about the women of the Beat generation and currently teaching a course on women's poetry and influence on the Beats at a local college. Thank you,

      Angela

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