A novel co-written by Jack Kerouac and William S. Burroughs, two giants of the "Beat Generation" of poets, writers and drug-takers, is to be published for the first time more than 60 years after it was written.
And the Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks, written in 1945, was inspired by an actual killing which led to the arrest of both authors.
The novel draws upon the stabbing in 1944 of a homosexual, David Kammerer, by Lucien Carr, a friend of the duo and another Beat leading light.
Carr served two years after admitting manslaughter, claiming Kammerer had been obsessed with him and had become violent.
Carr confessed to Kerouac and Burroughs, who helped him dispose of the knife but did not go to police. Kerouac was arrested as an accessary to the killing in 1944 and was put in a Bronx jail but he was freed after his girlfriend, Edie Parker, stood bail.
Burroughs was arrested but escaped incarceration after his father put up bail.
The book's publication will be a cause célèbre, given the enduring appeal of the authors. It is understood legal wranglings within the Kerouac estate are the reason it has not been published before, although neither writer was keen for that to happen.
Kerouac, considered the father of the Beat Generation, wrote his classic On The Road in 1951 and died at 47 in 1969 of liver cirrhosis. Burroughs, who wrote The Naked Lunch, died in 1997 at 83. Carr died in 2005, aged 79.
Penguin is publishing the book this November and Topos books in Spring 2009.