Joan Vollmer  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Joan Vollmer (February 4, 1923 – September 6, 1951<ref>Carmona, Christopher. "The Girl Who Kissed the Gun and the Bullet That Ate Her: The Life of Joan Vollmer", Beat Scene #58 (Spring 2009), p. 4</ref>) was the most prominent female member of the early Beat Generation circle. While a student at Barnard College, she became the roommate of Edie Parker (later married to Jack Kerouac). Their apartment became a gathering place for the Beats during the 1940s, where Vollmer was often at the center of marathon, all night discussions. In 1946, she began a relationship with William S. Burroughs, later becoming his common-law wife. In 1951, Burroughs killed Vollmer by shooting her in the head in what was apparently a drunken attempt at playing William Tell.


The film Beat (2000) is a biographical account of the relationship between Joan Vollmer Burroughs and William S. Burroughs. Joan Vollmer Burroughs is portrayed by Courtney Love and William S. Burroughs by Kiefer Sutherland. There are brief appearances by Daniel Martinez as Jack Kerouac, Ron Livingston as Allen Ginsberg and Norman Reedus as Lucien Carr. The film centres on the killing of Joan Vollmer Burroughs, on 6 September 1951, by her husband, William S. Burroughs. It also portrays Lucien Carr's plea of guilty to the first-degree manslaughter, on 13 August 1944, of David Kammerer, played by Kyle Secor, for which he served two years of a one-to-twenty-year sentence in the Elmira Correctional Facility in Upstate New York.


  • Ted Morgan, Literary Outlaw, the Life and Times of William S. Burroughs (1988, Henry Holt, ISBN 0-380-70882-5)
  • Jack Kerouac, The Vanity of Duluoz (1967–1968, Coward-McCann, ISBN 0-14-023639-2)
  • Collins, Ronald & Skover, David, Mania: The Story of the Outraged & Outrageous Lives that Launched a Cultural Revolution (Top-Five Books, March 2013)

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Joan Vollmer" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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