Jack Kerouac was born in Lowell, Massachusetts, in 1922. His first novel, The Town and the City, was published in 1950. He considered all of his "true story novels," including On the Road, to be chapters of "one vast book," his autobiographical Legend of Duluoz. He died in St. Petersburg, Florida, in 1969 at the age of forty-seven.
Allen Ginsberg was born in Newark, New Jersey, the son of poet and teacher Louis Ginsberg. In 1948, he received a B.A. degree from Columbia University. Ginsberg began writing poetry while still in school and first gained wide public recognition in 1956 with the long poem Howl. Howl has had a stormy history. When it was first recited at poetry readings, audiences cheered wildly. It was published by Lawrence Ferlinghetti's City Lights Books and printed in England. Before the printed copies could be distributed, however they were seized by U.S. custom officials as obscene. After a famous court case in which the poem was found not to be obscene, the work sold rapidly and Ginsberg's reputation was assured. Regarded as the foremost port of the Beat generation (as group of rebellious writers who opposed conformity and sough intensity of experience)(Ginsberg's work is concerned with many subjects of contemporary interest, including drugs, sexual confusion, the voluntary poverty of the artist and rebel, and rejection of society. He is a poet with a significant message, and his criticism of American society is part of a long tradition of American writers who have questioned their country's values.