Jack Kerouac was born into a French-Canadian family and spoke French before he learned English. His father was a printer and a local businessman. His first story was inspired by the radio show "The Shadow". As a young writer he styled himself after Thomas Wolfe, and attended Columbia University. Although his most famous novel is "On the Road", some of his other better known novels are "The Town and the City" and "The Dharma Bums", about a group of writers and Zen. Kerouac, who was married thrice, was a very heavy drinker, which was a major factor in his deteriorating health. He died in 1969, during emergency surgery.