‘My mother had always talked about how I had Jack’s hands’, she told me when I interviewed her in 1995, ‘We sat on the couch and compared them.He was very sheepish about it, but he looked at me and there was like a spark of recognition is his blue eyes..blue eyes.’ ‘Use my name’, Kerouac told her.The second and last time was in 1967, when she visited Kerouac at his home in Lowell en route to Mexico.He was drinking scotch and watching The Beverly Hillbillies.Jan Kerouac began to speak out against Sampas’s handling of the estate, arguing that her father’s archive should be deposited in a single collection with a university library.In 1994 she was shown a copy of Gabrielle’s will by Kerouac biographer Gerald Nicosia, and immediately suspected it was a forgery.Stella was four years older than Kerouac and seemed to have been waiting for him all her life; he told friends she was a virgin at the time of their marriage.But she quickly found herself not only caring for Gabrielle, but also managing Jack, often hiding his shoes to prevent him going out on drunken binges.
In 1995 Johnny Depp came to Sampas’s Lowell home and left with Kerouac’s raincoat, tweed overcoat and other items for which he paid ,640.
The first time they met was when Jan was 10, on the day Kerouac took a blood test to confirm his paternity.
‘You’re a lovely little girl’, he told her, ‘but you’re not my daughter.’ The blood test proved otherwise.
By now, interest in Kerouac as a literary figure, and as an icon of cool, was growing, and Sampas energetically set about promoting his life and work.
He organised the publication of hitherto unseen work and - in a move that incensed literary purists - licensed his image to be used in a 1993 Gap campaign (‘Kerouac wore khakis’).
‘It was all weird and scraggly and misspelt’, she told me.