Kerouac in The Sunshine State
Florida looms large in the last decades of Kerouac’s life. Jack and his mother Gabrielle or Mémêre first moved to The Sunshine State in December of 1956 and eventually settled into an Orlando area bungalow house just down the road from his sister Caroline in 1957, at 1418 1/2 Clouser Ave. The Clouser Ave. bungalow, now a writer’s retreat run by the Kerouac Project, is where Kerouac banged out The Dharma Bums. Four years later he worked until six a.m. in the “Florida peace” (and central a/c) to finish another major book, Big Sur.
All told, Kerouac completed roughly a quarter of his novels while living in the Sunshine State, tinkering with Desolation Angels, The Subterraneans, and the book that brought him fame, On the Road.
Kerouac lived in St. Petersburg, FL in two different stints from 1964 to 1966 at 5155 10th Ave N in the Disston Heights Neighborhood. In November of 1968 Kerouac moved into a newly purchased house to live with his mother, Gabrielle and his third wife, Stella, a small block and ranch style house at 5169 10th Ave. N. While residing in St. Petersburg, Kerouac briefly wrote articles for local editorials, the Evening Independent and sports columns for The St. Petersburg Times. He was known for his frequent visits to Haslam’s Bookstore, bringing stacks of his books to tables near the front door in order to more prominently display them. Some say Kerouac’s ghost haunts Haslam’s to this day, with reports of his books being knocked over or having spilled off shelves in the night.
His time in St. Petersburg was relatively short but Kerouac remains a beloved icon for many in the Sunshine City. The author penned his last two complete novels, Satori in Paris about his quest to France in discovery of his families Breton roots and Pic while living in St. Petersburg. On October 21st, 1969 Jack Kerouac died of a stomach hemorrhage at St. Anthony’s Hospital at the age of 47.
You can find out more about Kerouac’s literary legacy in St. Petersburg and the Sunshine State by visiting our self-guided bike tour app: Tour De Kerouac on the Oncell platform.
You can book a private guided bike tour by emailing us at:
Bio Section and Bike Tour app made possible with research and excerpts of work by FOJK Board Members, Margaret Murray and Tom Hallock.