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In 1946, his family moved to Springfield, Oregon where he graduated from Springfield High School.Kesey attended the University of Oregon where he studied journalism and communication and was a champion wrestler.In 1966, to escape a five-year prison sentence for possession of marijuana, Kesey faked his own death and fled to Mexico.
In 1973, Kesey published Kesey's Garage Sale, a collection of his works including the screenplay for Over the Border, a fictionalized account of his sojourn to Mexico. The Ken Kesey papers document his work as a novelist, essayist, short story author, and playwright, as well as his public life as figure who embodied the spirit of American counterculture movements in the 1960s.
Kesey continued to publish short stories and essays for the next ten years, culminating in 1986's Demon Box, a collection of short fiction and non-fiction pieces, many of which had appeared in other publications including Kesey's own literary journal Spit In the Ocean. In the 1980s and 90s, Kesey continued to write, make public appearances, perform, and organize gatherings of Pranksters and fans in the spirit of the original "Further" bus trip and the Acid Tests. This collection contains correspondence, manuscripts and publications, personal journals and artwork, event and tour material, press clippings, personal memorabilia, and creative works by members of Kesey's artistic circle, the Merry Pranksters.
Upon his release in 1968, Kesey and his family moved back to Oregon, settling on a farm in Pleasant Hill near his childhood home of Springfield.
Kesey began writing again in 1971, coediting the Last Supplement to the Whole Earth Catalog with Paul Krassner.
Collection or parts of collection may be stored offsite.
Please contact Special Collections and University Archives in advance of your visit to allow for transportation time.
Ken Kesey was an internationally renowned Oregonian novelist, essayist, and counterculture figure most famous for his book One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, and his psychedelic cross-country bus tour immortalized in Tom Wolfe's Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test.
His collection contains correspondence, manuscripts and publications, personal journals and artwork, event and tour material, press clippings, personal memorabilia, and creative works by members of his artistic circle, the Merry Pranksters. All personal journals in series 3 of the Ken Kesey papers have been restricted until 2063 by request of the Kesey family.
He died on November 10, 2001 after suffering postoperative complications from an attempt to remove a liver tumor. "Cut 'em Loose." In Kesey's Jail Journal, edited by David Stanford, ix-xiii. General correspondence includes letters to and from family, friends, colleagues, and associates, as well as letters collected from Kesey's time in prison.
His Jail Journals, a psychedelically illustrated account of his time at the San Mateo County Sherriff's Honor Camp, were posthumously published in 2003. "Biography: The Hallucinogenic Outlaw." In Ken Kesey, 1-12. The writing for publication series documents Kesey's work as a novelist, essayist, short story author, and playwright.