Famed Cassady letter to Kerouac to go up for auction

Tied up in court since 2014, the Joan Anderson Letter finally hits the auction block

Jean Spinosa with the Joan Anderson Letter
Breaking news concerning the Joan Anderson Letter:

After an 18-month legal battle over its ownership, a long-lost manuscript by Beat legend Neal Cassady later credited by Jack Kerouac for inspiring the writing style in On the Road, will be auctioned in June.

The document known as the “Joan Anderson Letter” is a 16-page, single-spaced typewritten screed dated Dec. 17, 1950, that was mailed from Cassady to Kerouac. Apparently no copy was made before it disappeared for 60 years, only to mysteriously turn up in an Oakland home in 2012.

After authenticating it, Jean Spinosa, the woman in possession of the artifact, offered it up for auction in late 2014, announcing it at a media event at the Beat Museum in North Beach. But Cassady’s three children, who thought the manuscript had been lost forever, filed suit to halt the sale on grounds that it was their property. The estate of Kerouac also claimed ownership of the document.

Acting through lawyers, those three parties have reached “an amicable settlement,” said Jami Cassady, spokeswoman for her family. The family holds claim to the words on the manuscript, then plans to publish it in some fashion, Cassady said, finally bringing to light one of the crucial artifacts in the history of the Beat Generation.

Sam Whiting, The San Francisco Chronicle

Read the article »