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Lucien Carr, Beat Generation Writer, Dies at 79

Lucien Carr, founding member of the Beat Generation of writers, died Jan. 28 after a long battle with bone cancer. He was 79. Carr died at George Washington University Hospital after collapsing at his Washington, D.C., home.

Carr was not known publicly for his writing but is credited with being a catalyst for the Beat Generation, the literary and social movement born out of a desire to be free from post-World War II social constraints. The best-known authors from that period, Allen Ginsberg, William Burroughs and Jack Kerouac, were introduced to each other through Carr while they were students at Columbia in the early 1940s.

In addition to serving as an editor and inspiration for the Beats, legend has it that Carr provided Kerouac with a roll of Teletype paper that he used to write his ground-breaking novel On the Road.

In 1944, Carr stabbed to death an older man who was said to have had a romantic interest in him. Kerouac and Ginsberg helped persuade Carr to turn himself in, and he later served two years on a manslaughter conviction for the incident.

Carr then carried on a prestigious career as a journalist for United Press and United Press International, where he was initially hired as a copy boy in 1946. Carr became the night news editor in 1956 and went on to head the general news desk until his retirement in 1993.

Carr leaves behind long-time companion Kathleen Silvassy; three sons from a previous marriage to Francesca von Hartz -- Caleb, a novelist whose books include The Alienist, Simon and Ethan; and five grandchildren.

Published: Feb 15, 2005
Last modified: Feb 15, 2005

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