Jack Kerouac had several little-known but significant connections to the Orlando area. When On the Road was published in 1957, catapulting Kerouac to national fame, he and his mother were renting a room in a cottage in College Park. Kerouac would return to this modest home to write the Dharma Bums, his acclaimed follow-up to On the Road. Kerouac's time in this house was documented by a photographer who captured him at work on the Dharma Bums for an article to be published by Life Magazine. Only one photograph was used in the article while the rest were sent to an archive where they fell into obscurity until they were unearthed by Bob Kealing while, a reporter and freelance writer who was researching a story about Kerouac's time in Orlando.
What started out as an article for the Orlando Sentinel in 1997 morphed into a full-length book entitled, Kerouac in Florida: Where the Road Ends. Kealing also secured rights to publish the lost photographs for the first time. During his research, Kealing also discovered the College Park house that had been inhabited by Kerouac, which had fallen into disrepair. Kealing and several other enthusiasts salvaged the house and converted it into he Kerouac Project of Orlando, which is now a prominent writers residency program.
The Jack Kerouac Writers In Residence Project Of Orlando, Inc., is in its twentieth year of service as a grassroots registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in Central Florida incubating the careers of writers and poets, inspiring creativity, and building a literary community that honors the spirit of Jack Kerouac’s legacy.
This is done through the Writers-In-Residence program run in the historic Kerouac House in College Park, Florida, (a suburb of Orlando). Four writers a year are chosen to each spend three months at the house free of charge to concentrate on their literary projects. As well, through quarterly literary readings and writing workshops held at the Kerouac House, we seek to expose audiences to the craft of writing and the joy of storytelling. We are a volunteer-run organization that works hard to connect with and encourage writers locally, nationally and internationally.
For more information, follow this link:
Housed in UCF's Special Collections and University Archives, this collection consists of the original research Bob Kealing compiled while researching Kerouac in Florida as well as documents pertaining to the restoration of the Kerouac house as well as the founding the the Kerouac Project of Orlando. The collection is broken into two series:
Series I: Book Research, 1958-2008 contains research notes, documents, and multiple drafts related to the writing of Kerouac in Florida: Where the Road Ends.
Series II: Writer in Residence Project, 2000-2007 is comprised of materials associated with the Jack Kerouac Project in Orlando, including successful applications for the Writer in Residence Project, journals, and event information.
For a more complete overview, follow the link below:
In September of 2007, the UCF Libraries hosted an exhibit and a series of events to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the publication of On the Road. The exhibit included reproductions of the photos of Kerouac in the College Park home as well as a digital display of the original Dharma Bums manuscript. Bob Kealing was the keynote speaker of that event, which was recorded by UCF Television. This presentation provides a good background of Kerouac's time in Orlando and an introduction to Bob Kealing:
Florida Frontiers episode from 2019 featuring Bob Kealing and other members of the Kerouac Project discussing Kerouac's legacy in Orlando: