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Joyce Johnson in 2007.

Joyce Johnson (born 1935) is an American author of fiction and nonfiction who won a National Book Critics Circle Award for her memoir Minor Characters about her relationship with Jack Kerouac.

Born Joyce Glassman to a Jewish family in Queens, New York, Joyce was raised on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, just around the corner from the apartment of William S. Burroughs and Joan Vollmer Adams Burroughs. Allen Ginsberg and Kerouac were frequent visitors to Burroughs' apartment.

At the age of 13, Joyce rebelled against her controlling parents and began hanging out in Washington Square. She matriculated at Barnard College at 16, failing her graduation by one class. It was at Barnard that she became friends with Elise Cowen (briefly Allen Ginsberg's lover) who introduced her to the Beat circle. Ginsberg arranged for Glassman and Kerouac to meet on a blind date.

Johnson's fiction and articles have appeared in Harper's, Harper's Bazaar, New York, The New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker, Vanity Fair and the Washington Post. She has written several novels, including Come and Join the Dance (1961) and Bad Connections (1978).

Jerry Yulsman's photograph of Joyce Johnson and Jack Kerouac outside the Kettle of Fish Bar in Greenwich Village during the 1950s.

In Minor Characters (Houghton Mifflin, 1983) she looked back at the years 1957 and 1958, the time when Kerouac rose from obscurity to fame with the publication of On the Road. Johnson brought attention to the experiences of women associated with the Beat Generation writers. Other memoirs and anthologies have since been published by and about women of the Beat Generation[1].

Since 1983 she has taught writing, primarily at Columbia University's MFA program, but also at the Breadloaf Writers Conference, the University of Vermont and New York University. "The Children's Wing," the penultimate chapter of her novel In The Night Cafe (1989), was a first-prize O. Henry Award recipient. In 1992 she received an NEA grant.

The Johnson and Kerouac correspondence, collected in Door Wide Open: A Beat Love Affair in Letters, 1957-1958 (2000) was followed by another memoir, Missing Men (2004).

Joyce was married briefly to abstract painter James Johnson, who was killed in a motorcycle accident. From her second marriage to painter Peter Pinchbeck, which ended in divorce, came her son, Daniel Pinchbeck, also an author and co-founder of Open City literary magazine.

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  1. ^ See Hettie Jones for example.

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