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John Clellon Holmes Biography

(1926–88), Partisan Review, Poetry, New York Times Magazine, The Bowling Green, The Beat Boys, The Horn

American novelist and journalist, born in Holyoke, Massachusetts, educated at Columbia University and the New School for Social Research. He was credited by some authorities with coining the phrase ‘the Beat Generation’. He contributed articles to such magazines as Harper's, Partisan Review, Poetry, and the New York Times Magazine, and later held posts at various American universities. Although his initial publications after university were poetry, his only collection was the later The Bowling Green (1977), and he rapidly turned to fiction. Go (1952; UK title The Beat Boys, 1959), about the intellectual drifters in the New York City of the Beat Generation, and The Horn (1958), about the declining days of a black saxophonist, are very much novels of the ‘Beat’ movement, soaked in jazz and the atmosphere of the 1950s. Later works, such as Get Home Free (1964), are less confident in their evocation of the period. Whilst he never achieved the status of Ginsberg or Kerouac, the essays collected in Nothing More To Declare (1967), regarded as a succinct and accurate representation of the Beat movement, and his memoir Visitor: Jack Kerouac in Old Saybrook (1980), are useful resources for the study of one of the important strands of post-war American literature.

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Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: John Hersey Biography to Honest Man's Revenge