Jean-Louis Kerouac (March 12, 1922 – October 21, 1969) was an American novelist, writer, poet, artist, and part of the Beat Generation. While enjoying popular but little critical success during his own lifetime, Kerouac is now considered one of America's most important authors. Kerouac's spontaneous, confessional language style inspired other writers, including Tom Robbins, Richard Brautigan, Hunter S. Thompson, Ken Kesey, and Bob Dylan.
Most of his life was spent in the vast landscapes of America or in the apartment of his mother, with whom he lived most of his life. Faced with a changing country, Kerouac sought to find his place, eventually bringing him to reject the values of the fifties. His writing often reflects a desire to break free from society's mold and to find meaning in life. This search may have led him to experiment with drugs (he used psilocybin, marijuana, morphine, and benzedrine, among others), to study spiritual teachings such as Buddhism, and to embark on trips around the world. His books are sometimes credited as the catalyst for the 1960s counterculture. Kerouac's best known works are On the Road and The Dharma Bums.