Beat News

Joan Anderson Letter Goes to Auction… Again

In 2014, the world of Beat Studies was rocked by the discovery of the Joan Anderson letter. Believed lost at sea until that point, the letter was the Holy Grail of our field. Its role in Beat history was considered by many as of key importance. Its influence on the literary style of Jack Kerouac was believed to be massive. More than two years ago, its existence was announced to the world, and soon after it went to auction. However, its ownership was contested, and so it was withdrawn. Last year, in May, it went up for auction at Christie’s, where it was expected to fetch about a half million dollars. The joint parties – the Kerouac estate, Cassady estate, and Spinosa – had come to an agreement that would allow it to be sold. However, its reserve price was not met, and the letter did not sell.

It is now back on the market and bidding commences on February 17th, continuing until March 8th.

Here’s hoping that whoever purchases the letter will allow it to be accessed by Beat scholars or published for the public to read. Beat scholars like myself are eager to pore over this legendary artifact and assess its significance. Was it really as important as Kerouac claimed?

“It was the greatest piece of writing I ever saw, better’n anybody in America, or at least enough to make Melville, Twain, Dreiser, Wolfe, I dunno who, spin in their graves.”

– Jack Kerouac

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.

Recent Posts

Review: Fear and Loathing in Aspen

The life and work of Hunter S. Thompson has long appealed to filmmakers, yet no…

2 weeks ago

Podcast About the Beat Generation

In a recent episode of Wondros, a podcast hosted by Jesse Dylan and Pricilla Cohen,…

3 weeks ago

Review: The Beats, by Steven Belletto

In 2020, Cambridge University Press published The Beats: A Literary History, by Steven Belletto, author…

2 months ago

The Change: Allen Ginsberg, Reborn

This essay was originally published in Beatdom #21. On July 18th, 1963, Allen Ginsberg sat…

2 months ago

Beatdom #22 – The Jack Kerouac Centenary Edition

Every year, we pick a theme for the next installment of Beatdom. In the past,…

3 months ago

The Beats: A Teaching Companion

Clemson University and the Beat Studies Association have been working together on a series of…

3 months ago

This website uses cookies.