See Jack Kerouac’s Rejected Original Cover Art for “On the Road”

When beat generation writer Jack Kerouac submitted his second novel, the now-seminal (and now-in the midst of a Kristen Stewart-starring major motion picture adaptation) “On the Road,” to publisher A.A. Wyn in 1952 the author included a possible cover image that, like the manuscript, was summarily rejected.

Accompanying — well, more like embedded within — the cover drawing is a typewritten note from Kerouac to Wyn. It reads:

Dear Mr. Wyn:

I submit this as my idea of an appealing commercial cover expressive of the book. The cover for The Town and the City was as dull as the title and the photo backflap. Wilbur Pippin’s photo of me is the perfect On the Road one … it will look like the face of the figure below.


Wyn, a pulp magazine publisher who had begun publishing books in 1945, launched Ace Books in 1952, and was notorious for paying his writers as little as he could, passed on “On the Road,” which was published five years later by Viking with a markedly less illustrative cover.

[TheDailyWhat, Explore]

— Benjamin Sutton