Neal Cassady commenced writing his autobiography in December 1948, continuing erratically until 1954,
at which time Neal's life story had covered only his first nine years.
A version of the book, titled The First Third, was published by Ferlinghetti's City Lights Books in 1971,
three years after Neal's death. An expanded edition followed in 1981, containing recently discovered extra
manuscript pages as well as Neal's Prologue, written November 1950, which dealt mainly with the history
of his father and mother, up to 1932.

The 19 printings of the book by City Lights feature five basically different front cover designs. The black
border of the 6th printing is thought to mark the 10th anniversary of Neal's death.


  CITY LIGHTS BOOKS   (click on thumbnails to enlarge)

US 1971 US 1978 US 1981 US 1984 US 2003 US 2021
1st Printing 1971 6th Printing 1978 7th Printing 1981 8th Printing 1984 19th Printing 2003 2021


Austria 1980 Austria 1997 Brazil 1986 Brazil 1999 Croatia 2006 France 1977 France 1998
Austria 1980 Austria 1997 Brazil 1986 Brazil 1999 Croatia 2006 France 1977 France 1998
France 2000 Germany 1982 Italy 1980 Italy 1998 Netherlands 1978 Spain 1978 Spain 2006
France 2000 Germany 1982 Italy 1980 Italy 1998 Netherlands 1978 Spain 1978 Spain 2006
Sweden 1985 Turkey 1999
Sweden 1985 Turkey 1999


Neal's famous 18-page "Joan Anderson Letter" to Kerouac of December 1950, which was to inspire the style
of the scroll version of On the Road, was subsequently lost. A fragment, of less than half of the original,
was recovered, and published in early 1964 by John Bryan in his literary magazine Notes From Underground,
with Neal helping to run off copies at Bryan's Rhode Island Street, San Francisco basement.
The title used, The First Third, is confusing, but it may be that by that date Neal was considering the Joan
Anderson extract as part of his ongoing autobiography. The same extract was published by City Lights in 1971
as an addendum to Neal�s book The First Third, and was later to form the basis of the 1997 movie The Last
Time I Committed Suicide
, directed by Stephen T. Kay, and starring Thomas Jane and Keanu Reeves.
The complete letter was eventually discovered in May 2012 in the discarded files of Golden Goose Press
in Oakland, California. The full text was published in an edition by Black Spring Press (UK) in October 2020.

US NFU cover 1964 US NFU text 1964
1964   cover 1964   text


Also in 1964, the City Lights Journal published the first chapter of Neal's autobiography, some seven years
before The First Third was published by the same press.

US CLJ 2 1964 cover US CLJ 2 1964 text
1964   cover 1964   text


Shortly after Neal's death in February 1968 the Milwaukee magazine Kaleidoscope published an extract from
the Joan Anderson letter, taken from Notes From Underground.

US Kaleidoscope 1968 cover US Kaleidoscope 1968 text
1968   cover 1968   text


Neal's Prologue to his autobiography originally appeared in Ken Kesey's journal Spit in the Ocean, shortly
before its inclusion in the expanded version of The First Third. This issue of the journal also included
extensive reminiscences of Neal from many of his friends.

US SITO6 1981 cover US SITO6 1981 text
1981   cover 1981   text


All of Neal Casady's extant letters are to be found in these four volumes.

US Creative Arts 1977 US Blast 1993 US Penguin 2004 UK Black Spring Press 2020
Creative Arts 1977 Blast Books 1993 Penguin 2004 Black Spring 2020
Spain 1985 Germany 2010
Spain 1985 Germany 2010

Some of Neal's letters had previously been published in magazines and journals, including a letter to Justin Brierly,
written from Colorado State Reformatory in October 1944, which appeared in mano-mano 2, and seven letters to
Jack Kerouac, which were published in The Missouri Review.

US 1971 US 1971 US 1971 US 1999 US 1999
mano-mano 1971 mano-mano text mano-mano text Missouri Review 1999 Missouri Review text


Some of Neal Casady's raps have been transcribed and published. The first, Drive Five, is from a recording made at Ken Kesey's
ranch in La Honda, California, Fall 1965, and is also included in The Beat Book. The second is from a Grateful Dead concert
at the reopening of the Straight Theater, San Francisco, in September 1967. Hank Harrison's The Dead Book contained a
flexidisc audio recording of a part of Neal's rap from the Straight Theater performance.
More of Neal's raps are included in The Further Inquiry, by Ken Kesey.

US Intrepid Trips 1974 US tuvoti 1974 US Secret Pug Archive US The Dead Book, by Hank Harrison US The Further Inquiry, by Ken Kesey
Intrepid Trips 1974 tuvoti 1974 Pug Secret Archive Links Books 1973 Viking 1990


US Prentice 1981 US Paragon 1990 US Th Mouth 2004 US TC 1995 US TC 1998 US Chi Rev 2006
Prentice Hall 1981 Paragon House 1990 Thunder's Mouth 2004 T Christopher 1995 T Christopher 1998 Chicago Review 2006

As well as the biographies devoted to Neal Cassady, his wife Carolyn has also written extensively about Neal's
life in her own autobiography. An abridged version titled Heart Beat Beat first appeared in 1976, followed in 1990
by the more complete work, Off the Road.
A movie version of Heart Beat was released in 1980, directed by John Byrum, starring Nick Nolte as Neal Cassady,
and with Jack Kerouac's daughter Jan as an extra.

US Creative Arts 1976 US Creative Arts 1976 US Creative Arts 1978 US Creative Arts 1980 US Pocket 1978 US Pocket 1980 UK Granada 1980
US 1976 hardback US 1976 paperback US 2nd edn. 1978 US wrapper 1980 US Pocket 1978 US Pocket 1980 UK Granada 1980
Germany 1980 Italy 1980 Japan 1990
Germany 1980 Italy 1980 Japan 1990
UK 1990 US 1990 UK 1991 US Penguin 1991 Czech 1994 France 2000 France 2002
UK 1990 US 1990 UK 1991 US 1991 Czech Rep. 1994 France 2000 France 2002
US 2006 draft UK 2007 US 2008 Spain 2013 UK 1990 Germany 2007
US 2006 draft UK 2007 US 2008 Spain 2013 UK 1990 Germany 2007

Neal's son, John Allen Cassady (named after Kerouac and Ginsberg) has also been writing about his father:

US 1998 US 1998 US 2007
Dharma Beat 1998 Dharma Beat text Beat Museum 2007


The Day After Superman Died by Ken Kesey is a semi-fictional account of the events surrounding the death of Neal Cassady,
originally published in Esquire magazine, October 1979.

US Esquire 1979 US Esquire 1979 US Esquire 1979 US Esquire 1979 US Lord John Press 1980 Germany, Goldmann Verlag, 1988
Esquire, Oct 1979 Esquire - illustration Esquire - text Esquire - text (cont) Lord John Press 1980 Germany 1988

Gregory Stephenson's Friendly and Flowing Savage is a literary study of the influence of Neal Cassady
on other writers.
A Form of Work that Becomes a Construct by fellow Merry Prankster Ken Babbs, is a close-up study of Neal,
including more transcriptions of his raps.
Neal and Anne at Gough Street is Charles Plymell's memoir of life with Cassady and his girlfriend Anne Murphy
in the San Francisco house they shared in the mid 1960s.
Trouble Ahead, Trouble Behind is a story about Neal and Jerry Garcia by Neal's Merry Prankster friend George Walker
(AKA "Hardly Visible").

US Textile Bridge 1987 US Sky Pilot 2004 UK Beat Scene Press 2008 US Tsunami Books Press 2010
Textile Bridge 1987 Sky Pilot 2004 Beat Scene Press 2008 Tsunami Books 2010

Kerouac also transcribed conversations between Neal and himself from tapes that were made at the Cassady home
in San Francisco, 1952. Those transcriptions were later incorporated into Kerouac's book Visions of Cody.


A page, in Neal's hand, of an early draft of part of The First Third.
This section, describing Neal's emotions whilst imprisoned inside a fold-up bed, may be compared with
the published version, pages 112-113 of the expanded edition of The First Third.

First Third MS page
Original manuscript

 Compiled by Dave Moore

 Thanks to Michael Powell, Horst Spandler, Georg Huber, and Vojo Sindolic for the use of their book cover images.

 A selection of books by Jack Kerouac can be found here:

 A selection of books by William S. Burroughs can be found here:

 A selection of books by John Clellon Holmes can be found here:

 A selection of books by David Goodis can be found here:

MySpace Layout Codes