Ken Kesey

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Kenneth Elton "Ken" Kesey (pronounced /ˈkiːziː/; September 17, 1935 – November 10, 2001) was an American author, best known for his novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1962),[1] and as a counter-cultural figure who considered himself a link between the Beat Generation of the 1950s and the hippies of the 1960s. "I was too young to be a beatnik, and too old to be a hippie," Kesey said in a 1999 interview with Robert K. Elder.[2]


Early life

Ken Kesey was born in La Junta, Colorado to dairy farmers Frederick A. Kesey and Geneva Smith.[3] In 1946, the family moved to Springfield, Oregon.[4] Kesey was a champion wrestler in both high school and college in the 174 pound weight division, and he almost qualified to be on the Olympic team until a serious shoulder injury stopped his wrestling career. He graduated from Springfield High School in 1953.[4] An avid reader and filmgoer, the young Kesey took John Wayne, Edgar Rice Burroughs, and Zane Grey as his models (later naming a son Zane) and toyed with magic, ventriloquism, and hypnotism.[5]

In 1956, while attending college at the University of Oregon in neighboring Eugene, Kesey eloped with his high-school sweetheart, Norma "Faye" Haxby, whom he had met in seventh grade.[4] They had three children, Jed, Zane, and Shannon; Kesey had another child, Sunshine, in 1966 with fellow Merry Prankster Carolyn "Mountain Girl" Adams.[6] His son Jed died in a car accident in 1984.[7]

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