The American writer Jack Kerouac, b. Jean Louis Kerouac, Lowell, Mass., Mar. 12, 1922, d. Oct. 21, 1969, became the leading chronicler of the beat generation, a term that he coined to label a social and literary movement in the 1950s. After studying briefly at Columbia University, he achieved fame with his spontaneous and unconventional prose, particularly the novel On the Road (1957). After the success of this work Kerouac produced a series of thematically and structurally similar novels, including The Dharma Bums and The Subterraneans (both 1958), Doctor Sax (1959), Lonesome Traveler (1960), and Big Sur (1962). His loosely structured, autobiographical works reflect a peripatetic life, with warm but stormy relationships and a deep social disillusionment assuaged by drugs, alcohol, mysticism, and biting humor.