Category Archives: British Library

Spring Market 2103 competition winners

In January we ran a competition to find designers and makers who have used the Library to develop their ideas, the prize was a day selling their products at our at our Spring Market on Monday 4 March 2013.

The winners of the competition also get training in running a market stall, free business advice through the Business & IP Centre, as well as marketing support from the Library.

I bought some great presents at last years Spring Market so am really looking forward to this one.

Spring Market winners 2013

Ali Miller
Ali’s handmade and UK produced homewares have a traditional, nostalgic feel with a twist of British quirkiness. Her vintage inspired work has been featured in the BBC’s Sherlock Holmes series as well as in notable publications such as Elle, Financial Times and The Telegraph. Ali has attended the Library’s ‘Make it, Sell it’ event and used our Business & IP Centre for research.
www.alimiller.co.uk

ali-miller


Anthropoid Clothing
Using her training as a scientific and natural history illustrator, Abigail Lingford creates bags, home wares, clothing and shoes inspired by her love of science. She was shortlisted for the BBC wildlife artist of the year in 2012 and has been featured in Time Out and The Guardian. She is inspired by our exhibitions, including ‘Out of This World’ on science fiction. She is also a user of our Business & IP Centre which helps her to commercialise her work.
www.anthropoidclothing.com

anthropoid-clothing


Boodi Blu
Upcycling has become increasingly popular in recent years. Boodi Blu’s Sarah Marafie has utilised this to create beautiful bespoke pieces of china and porcelain jewellery. The china she uses has been found buried or washed up on river banks, building an historical story to the jewellery. Sarah has used our Business & IP Centre to better understand intellectual property, copyright and to attend our ‘Knowing your Market’ workshop.
www.boodiblu.com

boodi-blu


Euan Cunningham
A professional artist, Euan has applied his ink and watercolour drawings of London landmarks to items such as greeting cards, mugs, t-shirts and prints. Euan was featured in the Sunday Times and his card designs are now sold in Fortnum and Mason. The Library’s building has influenced his work – watch out for the British Library print!
http://commissionahouseportrait.com/

euan-cunningham


Josie Shenoy Illustration
Josie is an illustrator and designer who is inspired by storytelling and has a passion for fusing hand-made and digital approaches. Josie’s success is growing; she has recently sold her work with Topshop and ASOS. Josie attended our ‘Make it, Sell it’ event and has enjoyed our exhibitions such as ‘Mughal India: Art, Culture and Empire’.
http://josieshenoy.com

josie-shenoy


Lisa Edoff
Swedish graphic designer Lisa Edoff creates beautiful products inspired by folk tales, nature, pop culture and the surrounding environment. She was directly approached by notonthehighstreet.com to become a partner and her products have been recommended by The Independent Magazine. Lisa has used our Business & IP Centre to attend our ‘Beginner’s guide to IP’ workshop, get one-to-one business advice and to network with other makers.
www.lisaedoff.com

lisa-edoff


Lucy Alice Designs
Lucy Porter has been creating gifts, cards, jewellery and homewares since 2011, all of which are influenced by her love of illustration and the British outdoors. Lucy was Runner up in the New Design Britain Awards in January 2012 as well as an exhibitor at MADE 12. Lucy has used the Library’s Business & IP Centre to research intellectual property and to create her business plan as well as researching British wildlife in our wider collections.
www.lucyalicedesigns.co.uk

lucy alice designs


Motties
Environmentally friendly Motties, are cosy and stylish slippers handmade from recycled leather materials. Alexa Mottram, the designer and creator of Motties, donates £1 from every sale to the homeless charity Emmaus. Alexa has received notable press coverage from The Independent, The Daily Telegraph and The Guardian. Her focus is on ethical fashion and she used the Library’s collection to research her MSc in Sustainable Architecture and Energy Studies, which has influenced her design work.
www.motties.co.uk

motties


Nette’ Leather Goods
Talented Californian turned Londoner, Johnette Taylor produces high quality leather goods such as purses, iPad cases and bicycle accessories. Her hand crafted accessories are made to last as well as being designed for functionality and attractiveness. In 2010, Johnette won a start up grant from the Prince’s Trust, and is currently a finalist in the Brand Amplify competition. She attended our creative and fashion meet-ups and training sessions on copyright and registered designs.
www.netteleathergoods.bigcartel.com

nette-leather-goods


The English Tee Shop
Alia Qadir designs and makes a range of luxurious printed t-shirts for women. Her emphasis on Englishness is central to the brand and can be seen through her use of the English language on the t-shirts as well as manufacturing her line solely in the UK. Alia has used the Library’s Business & IP Centre to do market research and has attended a trends workshop with our partner Insider Trends.
www.theenglishteeshop.com

the-english-tee-shop


Wonderhaus
Wonderhaus is an urban jewellery brand created by Julia Roy Williams. Julia gathers inspiration from urban environments, looking at architecture, music and other sub cultures and transforms this into beautiful jewellery made from materials such as bronze, leather, perspex and rubber. Julia’s jewellery has been recommended by The Sunday Times and Grazia as well as being seen on celebrities such as Erin O’Connor. Julia has been inspired by our exhibitions, including ‘Magnificent Maps’, our online gallery of images and our St Pancras flagship building.
www.wonderhaus.co.uk

wonderhaus

Spring Market 2013 competition: Made with the British Library

spring-market-comp-web-pageOur Spring Market in 2012 was such a success, we decided to run it again (surprise).
So if you are a designer or maker and you have used the Library to develop your idea, why not apply?

The prize is a stand at our Spring Market on Monday 4 March 2013 on the British Library Piazza in London. The Market is part of our Spring Festival and will show off the work of ten of the most innovative jewellery, fashion, homeware and craft designers who have used the British Library. If you have attended an event, used our Business & IP Centre, seen an exhibition or have a Reader Pass you are eligible to enter.

We have up to 5,000 visitors at any one time. You’ll be able to exhibit and sell your products to our visitors for the day, get experience and training in running a market stall, gain free business advice through our Business & IP Centre, plus lots of marketing and press exposure.

See the winners of last year’s Spring Market competition

Your prize

  • A market stall during the Spring Market. We will provide a stand, fabric covering and basic staging.
  • A workshop on how to dress your stand and gain the most out of the opportunity.
  • Your work featured on the British Library website.
  • We will promote your products via the British Library’s marketing channels including Twitter, Facebook, blogs and our website.
  • You’ll be included in a British Library press release sent to major national and local publications.

Competition criteria

We are looking for designers and makers who:

  • Produce fine art and photography, graphic art, jewellery, crafts, home-ware, fashion or other products.
  • Have been trading for at least six months in the UK.
  • Have a product range which has potential to make a fantastic visual display on a market stall.
  • Can sell the majority of products for around £30 or less (so that it is affordable for passing trade). Although it is fine to have a small range of high-end products to show the full range of your work.
  • Are able to attend the workshop for competition winners on Friday 8 February 2013.
  • Have used the British Library e.g. for events, exhibitions, our collections and Business & IP Centre.

How to enter

Complete our word document form and email it to springmarket@bl.uk by midnight on Sunday 27 January 2013.

Download the application form

Read our competition terms and conditions

Key dates

Midnight on Sunday 27 January 2013: Deadline for the competition
Friday 1 February 2013: Winners announced via email and on our website
Friday 8 February 2013: Workshop for the winners
Monday 4 March 2013: ‘Made with the British Library’ Spring Market

Web in Feb 2013 is nearly here

WebinFeb logoOur annual Web in Feb will be here very soon so have a look at what we have on offer and start booking up before they sell out.

Search Engine Optimisation for small businesses workshop

Tuesday 5 February 2013, 10.00 – 14.00

Learn how to improve your website so that search engines, like Google, list or rank it better and higher.

Science and technology information for the business user

Tuesday 5 February 2013, 14.00 – 16.00

Get a competitive edge by exploring our incredibly rich resources on technology-based products.

Social media for business innovation

Wednesday 13 February 2013, 10.00-12.30

Learn how to improve your products and services by using  social networks including: LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.

Marketing masterclass for small businesses

Wednesday 13 February 2013, 14.00-18.00

This workshop will introduce you to new ways to think about how your online marketing and will give you the opportunity to apply these marketing strategies directly for your business.

Insider trends: The future of e-commerce

Monday 18 February 2013, 18.00 – 20.00

Get the latest trends to get a head start on  the social media revolution.

Manage your business on the web

Tuesday 19 February 2013, 18.00 – 20.00

Save precious time and money by learning about the different web applications out there which can help you run your business, many of which are free.

Introducing copyright workshop

Thursday 20 February 2013, 14.00-16.00

Find out how copyright protection is different from other forms of intellectual property and why it is essential for your business to protect the works created online.

What next for your invention? Plan, prototype or protect?

Thursday 21 February 2013, 13.00 – 17.30

Join this practical workshop to learn all the key issues that need to be covered when you plan, prototype and then protect your online or digital devices.

How to crowdfund for your business

Tuesday 26 February 2013, 18.00 – 20.00

Explore the latest Crowdfunding trends to raise capital and discover an approach to Crowdfunding that works best for you.

Managing money and saving time with Sage One

Wednesday 27 February 2013, 18.00 – 20.00

Find out about the online mobility of the cloud-based accounts and payroll software.

Mobile Marketing Demystified

Thursday 28 February 2013, 14.00 – 16.00

Get an introduction to the next frontier of marketing – apps and mobile websites.

 

Writing about ‘Web in Feb’ on Twitter? Use our hashtag and see what everyone else is saying: #webinfeb

The secret doors of the British Library

BL DoorsBefore you get too excited, this is not a post about our collection of ‘naughty’ books. I have been at the library for seven years now and have yet to discover where they are located (not that I have been looking you understand).

This is about a secret contained within – not behind the doors of the British Library. At the entrance to each of the seven reading rooms in the St Pancras building stand pairs of impressively large wooden doors.

Colin St John Wilson who made the architecturally controversial building his life’s work, demanded only the best materials for the fixtures and fittings. Consequently the sheer weight of the Canadian oak that these impressive doors were constructed from, meant they could not be opened by ordinary mortals. This created something of a dilemma as the opening of the building  approached. I’m afraid I can’t prevent images entering my mind of stereotypically puny academics and weedy librarians breaking into a sweat, as they struggled with these mighty doors in vain.

To address this actually rather serious accessibility issue, building engineers came up with an ingenious and virtually invisible mechanical solution to the problem.

A small copper wire is curled in a spiral around each door handle. When grasped by a visitor the natural electrical charge within their body triggers a switch which is located in the door hinges. This powers an electric motor to push the door open. However this action is silent and so subtle that almost no one notices the assistance they are being given by the mechanism.

As a fan of ergonomic design and Cyborg Anthropology, I am impressed by this clever solution.

So the next time you encounter one of these magical doors, I suggest you touch the handle and stand back to give yourself time to admire this technological marvel of the British Library.

Eat Street is dead – Long live KERB – for the best street food in London

Kerb logoMy beloved Eat St. is no more. But this is a good news story as it has been replaced by KERB, and all the great pop up shops are still there at lunch-time, sandwiched between Kings Cross Station and the University of the Arts.

Since I last reported on this lunchtime wonder (The Apprentice hits the mark with gourmet street food) I have tasted the best burger of my life at Tongue ‘N Cheek, and the most incredible sandwich courtesy of Gurmetti.

tongue and cheek

Gurmetti

Now that I have wetted your appetite, perhaps I can interest you in the latest book to grace our Small Business Help shelves in the Business & IP Centre.

Another in the successful Dummies series, Pop Up Business For Dummies by Dan Thompson has condensed 12 years experience of using empty shops and managing pop up projects to provide an in-depth guide to devising, planning and delivering a pop up shop.

Whether you’re just starting out and want to test the viability of your business, or you’re an established business looking to expand your reach, pop-ups offer an exciting and flexible opportunity. They’re a great way to try new business ideas, experiment with a new product, location or market, gain exposure, and learn about your customers – all with limited risk and financial outlay.

Inside Pop-Up Business For Dummies, you’ll find:

  • Planning your pop-up venture – whether it’s a shop, studio, gallery, or community hub.
  • Finding the right space for you.
  • Negotiating with the landlord and sorting out the legalities.
  • Fixing up and fitting out your space on a budget.
  • Pulling in the punters – advertising and marketing your pop-up.
  • Managing a successful pop-up business day-to-day.
  • Closing up shop efficiently.
  • Lots of case studies, checklists, tips and hints from experienced pop-up people!

Pop Up Business for Dummies

 

 

Making your website mobile friendly with Telnames

Business_Startup_logo

Once again the Business & IP Centre had a stand at the Business Startup Show (this year bigger than ever and moved to Olympia). Although not quite the same draw as Caprice Bourret or Brad Burton, the session I ran with Julie Hall from Women Unlimited was full to bursting.

I always try and find some time to get around the exhibition and see what catches my eye. This year it was Telnames, a new service that claims to ‘create a mobile site that you own and control within minutes’. With the rapid take-up of mobile internet use, I can see the potential for a service like this. According to their website, by 2013 more people will use mobile phones than PCs to get online, and research indicates that 6 in 10 visitors will leave a mobile-unfriendly site.

The man I spoke to was an ex Yell employee, and explained that Telnames has ambitions to become a big player across Europe. I wondered how they would convince small business to pay for an additional service. His answer was simple – £14.95 a year all inclusive. My response was at that price it is a ‘no-brainer’, which by coincidence is the term they use on their home page.

It will be fascinating to see if this service really takes off in the way the salesman predicted.

Telnames_screenshot

Open Innovation in Public Services – Friday 30 November

Open Innovation logoOur next Open Innovation event at the British Library is next Friday on the the topic of Open Innovation in Public Services – New models for better value. With the public sector going through so many changes this is an ideal time to explore the role of Open Innovation:

How do public sector service providers find innovative solutions to rapidly changing sets of challenges within severe funding constraints? Answers may lie in opening up the search for innovative new service ideas and enhancements to the wider community, customers businesses and others.

This free, half-day, workshop gives anyone with an interest in the development and delivery of public services the opportunity to learn from the practical experiences of groundbreaking initiatives as well as the chance to share their own experiences with others. The contributors will be:

NESTA_logoVicki Purewal: Nesta Centre for Challenge Prizes. Challenge prizes, also called ‘inducement prizes’, offer a reward to whoever can first, or most effectively, meet a defined challenge. The Centre for Challenge Prizes brings together the growing expertise and interest in challenge prizes to help build an understanding of how they can play an effective and strategic role in the stimulation and support of innovation.

Carl Reynolds: NHS Hack Days. NHS Software Development Days (also called ‘Hack Days’ by software developers are intense one-or-two-day events that bring together a group of doctors, developers, designers with a commitment to the NHS to build exciting or off-the-wall prototypes that promote health.

genius_mastheadHeather Niven: GenIUS York.  GenIUS York  opens up the process of solving the city’s medium to long term strategic and operational challenges through providing a mechanism to have conversations and co-develop solutions with businesses, academics and the community. This is possible through the use of an online platform to communicate the challenges and encourage discussion around possible solutions.

Jennifer Parkin: Camden Council Innovation and Development Fund. The The Innovation and Development Fund aims to unlock the creativity and resources that exist within the borough, find practical solutions that reduce inequality and to enable Camden residents to reach their full potential. The fund seeks to support innovative ideas and gives power to local communities to make things happen in their local area. It offers financial investment and a tailored support package to support innovators to make their ideas a reality.

David Townson: Design Council. The Design Council’s Leadership Programme supports public sector clients in finding long term improvements to products and services. The result is a legacy of better connected teams, increased innovation and cost savings.

Alison Coward from Bracket will facilitate a panel discussion. Bracket is a creative collaboration agency which develops strategies, faciltates workshops, builds bespoke teams and manages projects which bring people together to help businesses develop and deliver new ideas.

Twitter hashtag:  #oipsrv 

Date and venue

  • 30 November 2012: 10-1300:  The British Library Conference Centre, 96 Euston Road, London NW1 2DB.

juggling20pic

St. Petersburg State University of Economics and Finance – Entrepreneurship: Starting from point zero

finec_logoRecently twenty students from St. Petersburg State University of Economics and Finance (FINEC) came to visit the Business & IP Centre. This was a follow-on from a smaller group who came to see me last year, led by Elena Orlova, Associate Professor and Project Coordinator at FINEC.

Her aim is to create a centre for entrepreneurship within St. Petersburg, based in part on our Business & IP Centre, and inspired by several UK universities’ enterprise support activities.

I was happy to have Elena back, as I had strong memories of her enthusiastic students, and this larger group proved to be equally passionate about introducing enterprise to their university. This year their programme of visits has been expanded to include London Metropolitan University, London School of Business & Finance and University of East London Knowledge Dock. They also travelled outside London to Judge Business School Centre for Entrepreneurial Learning (part of the University of Cambridge), and Manchester Metropolitan University.

Entrance to the university, with Bank Bridge in the foreground

Entrance to the university. Source Wikipedia

As well as giving the students a tour of the British Library and the Business & IP Centre, and a talk about how we help start-ups and growth businesses, they also gave presentations to me about their projects.

Not only was their grasp of English excellent, their plans to create a University Centre for Entrepreneurship and an interactive map of entrepreneurship opportunities in St. Petersburg were impressive.

It came as something of a surprise to me to discover their biggest challenge is not finding financial support, as they already have sponsorship from SBERBank. But is the cultural challenge of persuading fellow Russians to consider starting their own business as a realistic life choice. Although traditional state Communism ended many years ago, it seems the attitudes that went with it are harder to shake off. Individuals remains cautious when it comes to investing their time and money in a business venture.

One encouraging sign was the fact that just two of the twenty students on the programme are men. If this is representative of the rest of the population back home, then we can expect to see plenty of female entrepreneurs in St. Petersburg over the next few years.

Finec_students

Today I received this lovely letter from the students:

To Neil Infield.
“You need to be pathological optimist”

Dear Neil,
We’ve returned to Russia, to Saint Petersburg from London and Manchester. And we are still excited by our visit to the British Library, especially to Business and IP center. Thank you so much for organising such an amazing meeting. We’d like to share the most interesting moments from our visit.

First of all, your library impresses by its extensive collection of rare books, recordings and other sources of information. We loved Jack Kerouac’s 120-ft-long manuscript exhibition. The book “On the road” and the movie are really popular in Russia.

Secondly, you gave us a really good presentation of your business and IP center. It is the right place for every person who wants to get help in starting their own business. There are no barriers to be involved in the centre activities. Besides you encourage young entrepreneurs by using swap skills desk. And now we are more enthusiastic on creating our own center. We’d like to include the following services to our center as well as you do: consultations about intellectual property, networking with start-ups and mature entrepreneurs. But there is one thing that’s not common to Russia – exchange of business ideas. That’s why it is necessary for us to make a platform for trainings, workshops and meetings for peers. Entrepreneurs-to-be need a place where to go and the right people to talk to.

You told us about the cultural challenges we would face while implementing our project – we will try to forsee them. Thank you very much for this advice.

The diversity of opportunities and ideas that can come from one particular thing is another idea that you discussed with us. The way you introduced it – with your “Water presentation” – is a brilliant idea how to tell people not about “water things” but very, very important issues.

So, we want to thank you for all your patience and interest that you listened to us to.

We hope we keep in touch with you and continue our collaboration.

Best wishes, students of FINEC.

 

Inspiring Entrepreneurs: Question Time for Entrepreneurs 2012

GEW_UK_logo

Tonight we hosted another of our Inspiring Entrepreneurs evenings as part of Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW). This time we had successful entrepreneurs from a diverse range of business sectors, from home wares to plumbing.

Once again our moderator and all round business expert was Matthew Rock,  Real Business Co-founder and Editor.

Charlie_MullinsFirst up was Charlie Mullins who said he wanted to be a plumber from nine years old. And from very early on was out on the road working with plumbers. He doesn’t believe in a magic formula for business success. He didn’t have any set plans when he started out, just hard work and dedication to be successful. The harder you work the luckier you get.

His is a family business with children and in-laws employed. Pimlico plumbers is now the largest independent plumbing company in the country, and the most recognised in the country. And they now employs 200 people, but the hardest thing is finding the right staff.

orla_kielySecond was Orla Kiely who knew by the age of twelve that she wanted to work in fashion. She applied to the one good art college in Dublin and there discovered textiles. She left Ireland in the late 1980’s as there wasn’t much going on there at the time. After four years working as a textile designer she went back to college at the Royal College of Arts which she considers essential for creatives.

orla_kiely_logoFrom there she started making a few hats and bags with fax orders from the UK to Monaco. On moving back to London to expand the business with her partner Dermott Rowan she began by freelancing for M&S and creating her designs at weekends. Their first office was their flat which became crammed with boxes. The move to prints was the way they were able to differentiate their brand, and since then they have grown organically.

.

 

Sam_HargreavesNext was Sam Hargreaves who credits his sister with starting his business when she turned down an iPod he had bought for her as a present. At 16 Instead of spending £5,000 on a car as agreed with his parents, he bought 50 iPods from the USA and doubled his money overnight, but was grounded by his mum.

His Gadgets 4 Everyone now has eleven staff and a million pound turnover, and recognised as the number one gadget recycler. Sam puts his success down to a personal touch, following up with customers over the phone and making use of social media. He tests his ideas on his friends who are brutally honest and will throw any bad ideas back into his face.

Stephen_FearFinally Stephen Fear who grew up with virtually no education, and used to read the newspapers he was delivering. At fourteen years old he began using his local phone box to contact American suppliers with help from a friendly phone operator. He settled on trainee salesman as his job title after rejecting Chairman and President, in order to get in the door at big companies who wouldn’t see a teenage child.

The evening ended with a lengthy question and answer session:

How to grow your business?
Spend your profits on your business not on holidays or expensive presents for yourself. Find the right partnerships who can help your business grow. Partner with your customers and your suppliers and ultimately with your financier.

Mistakes
Mistakes are how you learn, and you come out a lot stronger. You always have to watch your own business regardless of who you employ to look after it for you. You have to keep focussed on your business at all times. Plan ahead. Example of a five year plan to choose between menswear and home-wear for Orla Kiely.

Funding
Finance means everything must have a margin (40% in the case of Orla Kiely). Stephen Fear covered the funding options of Crowdfunding, personal investors who will take a percentage of the business, BBA website for grants. Charlie reckons friends and family can be the best source of funding for startups.

Business plans
Don’t need to be too detailed, but must be a credible road map for your business.

New markets.
Sam is expanding into European markets through connections and other people’s successes. The UK DTI help exporters expanding into new markets.

All of the speakers stayed on well after the 8pm close for some serious networking in the bar of the conference centre. It was great to be able to chat to Orla Kiely, Stephen Fear and Charlie Mullins over a glass of wine and nibbles.

On the Road again with Jack Kerouac and the American landscape

kerouac1As I have mentioned before, the British Library is a constant source of cultural surprises and delights.
This time the source is our display of the original 150 foot long manually typed manuscript scroll of Jack Kerouac’s modern classic On the Road. I popped down one lunchtime to have a look at this unusual form of a first draft of the novel, which I had last seen in Russell Brand’s infamous BBC documentary following some of Kerouac’s routes across America.

The notes alongside the display in the library were intriguing and made it sound as though this unedited version would make for a more interesting read than the modified published edition of the book.

on_the_road_scroll

Source – http://ontheroad29.wikispaces.com

Fortunately our shop stocked both the ‘proper’ version and a Penguin edition of the original scroll (in book form). A week later and I have finished this amazingly freewheeling and raucous book and regret not having read it years ago. Kerouac is superb at bringing to life the prodigious American landscape as he criss-crossed the country hitch-hiking and driving various borrowed cars.

His evocative road trip text took me back to my gap year trip, travelling 13,000 miles around the USA and Canada on a motorbike. In particular the steamy heat of New Orleans, the vast open plains and die straight roads of Texas, and the chilly winding passes of the Rocky Mountains heading into New Mexico. I also fell in love with the poetic names of towns encountered along the way such as Indio, Blythe, Salome, Flagstaff, Wichita, Rapid City, Des Moines, Mobile, Clint and my favourite Cimarron at the foot of the Rocky Mountains.

I have to admit the idea of reading a book with no paragraphs and little punctuation was somewhat intimidating, but the story grips you like a roller-coaster from the beginning, and I found myself not wanting to get off. I enjoyed the fact this version contained all the real names, places and sometimes shocking details (mostly changed in the edited version to avoid libel cases and the censor).

As the back page blurb puts it;
‘In this influential odyssey of jazz and drugs, of filling stations and marriage licences, of sex, and poolsharks, and hiballs, Kerouac tells the real story of his travels with car thief and Beat icon Neal Cassady, and the famous friends they met, drank with, and ignored.’

Perhaps the biggest surprise came from the reading the 100 pages of notes that came with the Penguin version. The manuscript had gained mythological status from the story that Kerouac wrote it in one continuous three week blitz, fuelled by coffee and Benzedrine. I found it hard to believe such a literary feat could be produced just like that out of thin air, and the reality proved very different. The manuscript was actually the culmination of many years of experimenting and frustration for Kerouac in trying to create what he called the “Official Log of the Hip Generation”. So although written in a whirlwind of manic typing, Kerouac had several previous manuscripts to call on, as well as being surrounded by piles of notebooks and letters.

An unexpected surprise came in the last few pages of the book as Kerouac, Frank Jeffries and Neal Cassidy (the unlikely hero of the story) and roll into Mexico City towards the end of their final road trip. Apparently a dog called Potchky had eaten the final section of the scroll. It seem hard to believe that this mythological ‘dog ate my homework’ excuse used by teenagers across the world, had actually befallen the sole copy of the novel. Fortunately the editor of the Penguin edition was able to use a revised version written by Kerouac shortly afterwards, so no harm seems to have been done to the ending of story.

For me the biggest irony of the intense three week writing period designed to capture the essence of this new era, was that it took a further six years and much wrangling between the author and publishers before the print version finally appeared in bookshops.

On_the_road_book