Ken Kesey

(biography, photos, videos) Ken Elton Kesey

photo by Ken Kesey

  • Name: Ken Kesey ( Ken Elton Kesey )
  • Date of birth: 17 September 1935
  • Age: 66 years
  • Date of death: 10 Nov 2001
  • Place of birth: La Junta, Colorado, USA
  • Activity: Novelist, short-story writer, essayist, poet
  • Marital status: was in a civil marriage

    Ken Kesey: biography

    Ken Kesey was born in La Junta, which is located in the U.S. state of Colorado. His father Frederick Kesey owned a mill and his mother Geneva Smith was a homemaker. Parenting Kesey was a religious and pious.

    When Ken was 11 years old, the family moved to the state Oregon in the Willamette valley, which is a suburb of the city of Springfield. There was a farm that previously belonged to my grandfather on my father’s side.

    Ken visited the parish, and then high school. In the latter he became interested in power sports, and even became a state champion in wrestling. While studying at a local College the young man repeated this achievement and was even included in the extended list of participants of the Olympic team, but an unexpected shoulder injury interrupted his career.

    Then Ken Kesey returns to her education and enrolled in the University of Oregon, where she is studying journalism and is seriously interested in literature. After this University, thanks to the grant, and a National merit scholarship Woodrow Wilson, once trained at Stanford University in the direction of «writing». But paid grant money to the young man needed, so he got a part time job in the veterans hospital «Menlo Park», where he held the position of medic and was also a member of experiments on the effects on the body of various psychotropic drugs, including LSD.

    In 1964, after gathering a few of close buddies, Ken organizes a hippy commune, which he called «the Merry Pranksters». Their main goal was to organize a musical party, in which he played the young group «the Grateful Dead», have fun and suggest everyone to pass «the acid test», that is practically free to try LSD or some other psychotropic drug. Also, the «little rascals» was an old private school bus «international harvest», which they painted with fluorescent paint in bright colors and made several trips to America, including the famous trip to new York for the International exhibition.

    Later, the US police became interested in Ken Kesey, charging him with the possession and use of illegal drugs. Kesey tried to escape to Mexico, while faked his own suicide, but after returning after 8 months was arrested and sentenced to 5 months in prison.


    The first literary breakdown of the pen of Ken Kesey became the short story «Zoo» on the commune of beatniks and hippies, which he wrote in 1959, but never published. A year later he writes stories of «Late autumn», which talks about growing up. This story also had a certain biography and was never published.

    While working in the veterans hospital the novice writer came up with the idea of a novel about patients in a psychiatric hospital, which is actually quite healthy, but the traditional society, for various reasons, rejects them. In a 1962 novel called «one Flew over the cuckoo’s nest» was released, but not at first brought the author great success. A year after the book comes out the play by Dale Wasserman and then the writer falls in popularity.

    Next big book was Kesey novel «Sometimes a great folly,» in which the writer uses realism as a Foundation for this literary experiment. This work had mixed criticism, but was later called one of the most important American books of the 2nd half of the 20th century.

    After that, the writer focused on journal publications, short stories and essays. In publishing for the next 20 years were only collections of short stories «Garage sale» in 1973 and «When were the angels», 1986. Also in 1990 he was assigned the play by Ken Kesey «Further investigation».

    Third full-length novel «Song of a sailor» appeared only in 1992 and was a new experiment as the plot of the book is quite simple and ambiguous. In 1994, he released the latest novel by Ken Kesey «the Last race», which he wrote together with his old friend from «little rascals» Ken Bubs, and the piece «the Deceiver».

    Then again, there were publications in periodicals. The last book that comes out in the press was a collection of short stories «the Prison journal», which was released in 2003, after the death of the writer.

    Personal life

    After high school, Ken Kesey fled to his parents ‘ house with my classmate faye Haxby. This pair and will take a whole lifetime together, although their views on life weddings they had not entered.

    In this civil marriage Ken and faye had three children – sons, jed, Zane, and daughter Shannon. Also Ken had a daughter, sunshine Kesey from one of the participants of «Merry pranksters» Carolyn Adams. And faye Haxby gave consent to the relationship.


    After his release from prison where he sat for marijuana possession, Ken Kesey went to his farm in pleasant hill in the Willamette valley. Here the writer lived until the end of life. He farmed, had a solitary and quiet life.

    Left the family farm kizi only twice in the 90-ies of meetings with former associates in the commune of «the Merry pranksters». The last time Ken Kesey appeared in public in 1997. The writer was already very sick. He has diabetes, later was diagnosed with cancer of the liver. And in 2001, Kesey suffered a stroke. Was held a successful operation, there was some improvement but after 2 weeks the condition has worsened again, and on 10 November 2001, on 67-m to year of life Ken Kesey died in the hospital «Sacred Heart».


    • 1962 — one Flew over the cuckoo’s nest
    • 1964 — Sometimes a great folly
    • 1973 — Garage sale
    • 1986 — When angels appeared to
    • 1990 — Further investigation
    • 1992 — Song of the seaman
    • 1994 — the Last race
    • 1994 — the Deceiver
    • 2003 — a Prison journal


    Sow Bride

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