An 18-page letter written by Beat-era icon Neal Cassady, which transformed Jack Kerouac's writing style, is shown in San Francisco, California, Dec. 1, 2014
Deepa Seetharaman—Reuters
By Charlie Campbell
December 11, 2014

The auction of a letter deemed the inspiration for Jack Kerouac’s 1957 masterpiece On the Road has been postponed amid an ownership dispute.

The family of Neal Cassady, the Beat Generation icon who penned the 16,000-word correspondence, is locked in a legal wrangle with Kerouac’s relatives, reports the Associated Press.

The letter, known as the Joan Anderson Letter, inspired Kerouac to tear up an early version of On The Road and instead adopt Cassady’s relentless, stream-of-consciousness style.

Los Angeles performance artist Jean Spinosa apparently found the missive when she went through her late father’s belongings.

Both the Cassady and Kerouac estates have filed court motions claiming ownership but a hearing date has not yet been set, Cassady’s daughter Jami Cassady told the Associated Press.

[AP]

Write to Charlie Campbell at charlie.campbell@time.com.

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