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Last Updated: Monday, 16 January 2006, 12:39 GMT
Beat museum opens in California
Jack Kerouac
Writer Jack Kerouac was a leading light of the Beat movement
A museum dedicated to literary giants of the Beat generation has opened in the San Francisco neighbourhood where the movement took off 50 years ago.

Manuscripts, letters and first editions from Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg are among the items on display.

A rare copy of Ginsberg's poem Howl, which is said to have ignited the Beat movement, is also housed in the museum.

The literary style is thought to have influenced the counterculture which prevailed in the 1960s.

The museum, in San Francisco's Grant Avenue, also features an 11m long portion of Jack Kerouac's renowned novel On The Road, which was published in 1957, 12 years before the writer's death.


The opening ceremony was dedicated to Carolyn Cassady, the widow of Neal Cassady, whose travels with Kerouac were the inspiration for On The Road.

"There's something powerful that speaks to every new generation," said Ms Cassady.

"We never ever thought this would happen. I had hundreds and hundreds of pages of letters that I let go of for peanuts," she added.

"This is Beat central," said museum founder Jerry Cimino. "North Beach is where it belongs."

The Beat museum was formerly housed in Monterey, California, some distance from the San Francisco neighbourhood which was at the centre of the movement.

"I see the Beat movement as an enlightening movement because they followed their dreams and changed the world," added Mr Cimino.

Ginsberg's epic poem Howl was viewed as controversial, and a reading of the work resulted in the arrest of book shop owner Lawrence Ferlinghetti on charges of obscenity.

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