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The Town is Galloway....On This Day, 1948 Kerouac Writes 2500 Words of His First Novel "The Town and The City"


Mass Moments has posted and longtime Pollard Library superuser Marie over at has shared, the fact that on this day in 1948 Jack Kerouac noted in his diary that he had written 2500 in what was to be his first published novel The Town and The City. The semi-autobiographical novel tells a grand sweeping tale of the Martin family of Galloway from the turn of the 20th century to post WWII America. “The town” is a fictional version of Lowell, MA called Galloway and “the city” is NYC—how could it not for a novel about 20th century America? The novel is very different in style and tone than later works by Kerouac. It was inspired by Look Homeward Angel by Thomas Wolfe and was published in 1950. Kerouac’s second and more famous novel, On the Road wasn’t published or another seven years. Here is opening paragraph of The Town and the City:

“The town in Galloway. The Merrimac River, broad and placid, flows down to it from the New Hampshire hills, broken at the falls to make frothy havoc on the rocks, foaming on over ancient stone towards a place where the river suddenly swings about in a wide and peaceful basin, moving on now around the flank of the town, on to places known as Lawrence and Haverhill, through a wooded valley, and on to the sea at Plum Island, where the river enters an infinity of waters and is gone. Somewhere far north of Galloway, in headwaters close to Canada, the river is continually fed and made to brim out of endless sources and unfathomable springs.”

Our library dedicated a corner on our first floor to Kerouac earlier this month. Dick Howe, Jr. wrote a nice piece about the corner and the ceremony in his weekly roundup. Photos of the dedication ceremony are available in an earlier blog post and on our flickr page.