Archival Collections
Rare Book & Manuscript Library

Lucien Carr papers, 1951-1975. 

Creator: 
Carr, Lucien, 1925-2005.
Phys. Desc: 
0.5 linear ft. ( 1 box)
Call Number: 
MS#0201
Location: 
Rare Book & Manuscript Library
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Online information

Biographical Note

Lucien Carr was born in New York City in 1925, but spent most of his childhood in St. Louis, Missouri. It was in St. Louis that he first met Washington University instructor David Kammerer and Kammerer's childhood friend William S. Burroughs. After graduating from Andover Academy, Carr briefly enrolled in Bowdoin College, but soon transferred to the University of Chicago, where he stayed for two semesters until an apparent suicide attempt caused him to be briefly institutionalized. His mother, living in New York at the time, convinced Carr to transfer to Columbia University. At Columbia, Carr, a brilliant student, befriended his Columbia dormmate Allen Ginsberg and recent graduate, Jack Kerouac. He introduced Ginsberg and Kerouac to one another and to William Burroughs, who, along with Kammerer, had moved to New York in Carr's wake. The intelligent and charismatic Carr quickly became the ringleader of the group of friends-- introducing them to the sensualist poetry of Rimbaud and encouraging their exploration of Greenwich Village clubs. This period of Carr's life ended abruptly when, after a night of drinking, Kammerer made increasingly persistent and aggressive sexual advances on Carr in Riverside Park. The situation became violent and resulted in Carr stabbing and killing Kammerer. He was convicted of manslaughter and served two years in prison for the crime. Though Carr was instrumental in the bringing together the key players who would form the core of the Beat Generation, he later remained on the periphery of the movement. He valued his privacy, and asked that his name not be mentioned in press relating to the beats and even requesting that Allen Ginsberg remove his name from the dedication of "Howl." Though he moved out of the spotlight, he remained close with his college friends, supporting Kerouac and Ginsberg throughout their careers, including briefly allowing Kerouac to live with him and his wife while Kerouac worked on the manuscript for On the Road. He married Francesca (Cessa) van Hartz and took a job at United Press International where he worked as an editor for the entirety of his 47-year career in the news business. He and Francesca had three children-- Simon, Ethan and the writer Caleb Carr before they divorced. Carr died of complications of bone cancer in 2005.

Scope and Contents

The Lucien Carr papers contain Carr's correspondence, primarily with Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac, as well as clippings, book reviews, and articles relating to Ginsberg, Kerouac, Burroughs, and other Beat Generation figures.