SURREY, England — If proof was needed that opposites attract, the loves of Carolyn Cassady’s life would more than make the case.
The daughter of a biochemistry professor and an English teacher with strict, Victorian values, she grew up in the 1940s envisioning a traditional marriage with children and a steady husband to keep them in comfort.
What she chose, however, was marriage to Neal Cassady, the fast-talking, hard-living, womanizing wanderer who would be immortalized as Dean Moriarty in “On the Road,” Jack Kerouac’s 1957 novel that celebrated nonconformity in a rigidly conformist era with its depictions of sexual freedom, drugs and other revelry on the open road. Kerouac modeled Moriarty’s second wife, Camille, on her.
Married to Neal for 15 years, she had, with his encouragement, an affair with Kerouac. Both men were legends of the Beat generation when they died in the late 1960s.
“I’m one of the last survivors,” she told the London Guardian in 2011 of her two decades of intimate association with the Beats, “and, of course, I wasn’t a part of it really.”
Cassady, an artist and memoirist who spent much of her life trying to correct what she said were misconceptions about the Beat idols, died Friday in Surrey, England, after a bout with acute appendicitis, said her son, John Cassady. She was 90.