Carolyn Cassady, a key figure in the Beat Generation of writers—both as character and author—has died at age 90 after slipping into a coma following an emergency appendectomy, the New York Times reports. Cassady, who inspired the character of Camille in Jack Kerouac's On the Road, was married to Neal Cassady, the writer who appears in the book as Dean Moriarty. She wrote two books about the Beat writers, Heart Beat: My Life With Jack and Neal (she was pushed by her husband to have an affair with Kerouac, and did so, KTVU reports) and Off the Road: My Years With Cassady, Kerouac and Ginsberg.
Married to Neal from 1948 to 1963, Carolyn took part in the men's wild lifestyle, but also acted as an anchor, raising a family amid Neal's many marital transgressions, the Times notes. In later years, she sought to dispel many Beat myths: "I kept thinking that the imitators never knew and don't know how miserable these men were," she said in 1972. "They think they were having marvelous times—joy, joy, joy—and they weren't at all." She died Friday near her London-area home.