Early life and education

Burroughs was born in 1914, the younger of two sons born to Mortimer P. Burroughs
(June 16, 1885–January 5, 1965) and Laura Hammon Lee (August 5, 1888–October 20,
1970). The Burroughs were a prominent family in St. Louis, Missouri. His grandfather,
William Seward Burroughs I, founded the Burroughs Adding Machine company, which
evolved into the Burroughs Corporation. Burroughs' mother, Laura Hammon Lee, was
the daughter of a minister whose family claimed to be related to Robert E. Lee. His
maternal uncle, Ivy Lee, was an advertising pioneer later employed as a publicist for the
Rockefellers. His father, Mortimer Perry Burroughs, ran an antique and gift shop,
Cobblestone Gardens; first in St. Louis, then in Palm Beach, Florida.
As a boy, Burroughs lived on Pershing Ave. in St. Louis's Central West End. He
attended John Burroughs School in St. Louis where his first published essay, "Personal
Magnetism," was printed in the John Burroughs Review in 1929.[1] He then attended The
Los Alamos Ranch School in New Mexico, which was stressful for him. The school was
a boarding school for the wealthy, "where the spindly sons of the rich could be
transformed into manly specimens."[2] Burroughs kept journals documenting an erotic
attachment to another boy. According to his own account, he destroyed these later,
ashamed of their content.[3] Due to the repressive context where he grew up, and from
which he fled, that is, a "family where displays of affection were considered
embarrassing,"[4] he kept his sexual orientation concealed well into adulthood when,
ironically, he became a well known homosexual writer after the publication of Naked
Lunch in 1959. Some say that he was expelled from Los Alamos after taking chloral
hydrate in Santa Fe with a fellow student. Yet, according to his own account, he left
voluntarily: "During the Easter vacation of my second year I persuaded my family to let
me stay in St. Louis."[3]

Harvard University
He finished high school at Taylor School in St. Louis and, in 1932, left home to pursue
an arts degree at Harvard University. During the summers, he worked as a cub reporter
for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, covering the police docket. He disliked the work, and
refused to cover some events, like the death of a drowned child. He lost his virginity in
an East St. Louis brothel that summer with a female prostitute he regularly patronized.[5]
While at Harvard, Burroughs made trips to New York City and was introduced to the
gay subculture there. He visited lesbian dives, piano bars, and the Harlem and
Greenwich Village homosexual underground with Richard Stern, a wealthy friend from
Kansas City. They would drive from Boston to New York in a reckless fashion. Once,
Stern scared Burroughs so much, he asked to be let out of the vehicle.[6]
Burroughs graduated from Harvard in 1936. According to Ted Morgan's Literary
Outlaw,
His parents, upon his graduation, had decided to give him a monthly allowance of $200
out of their earnings from Cobblestone Gardens, a tidy sum in those days. It was enough
to keep him going, and indeed it guaranteed his survival for the next twenty-five years,
arriving with welcome regularity. The allowance was a ticket to freedom; it allowed him
to live where he wanted to and to forgo employment.[7]

When two of his friends from St. Army early in 1942. especially after he deliberately severed the last joint of his left little finger. He traveled to Europe. Lucien Carr. Louis. and runaways. but the manuscript was finally published in November 2008 by Grove Press and Penguin Books. and David Kammerer.S. Burroughs's formal education ended. who had killed David Kammerer in a confrontation over Kammerer's incessant and unwanted advances.. he became dejected. In 1939. Completed in 1945. left for New York City. Burroughs waited five months in limbo at Jefferson Barracks outside St. and eventually divorced Burroughs. although they remained friends for many years. but Burroughs married her.Burroughs's parents sold the rights to his grandfather's invention and had no share in the Burroughs Corporation. he moved to Chicago and held a variety of jobs.S.000.[8] Europe After leaving Harvard. he picked up boys in steam baths in Vienna." Beginning of the Beats Burroughs enlisted in the U. who was also a neurologist at a psychiatric treatment center. After being evaluated by a family friend. Burroughs and Kerouac got into trouble with the law for failing to report a murder involving Lucien Carr. which proved a window into Austrian and Hungarian Weimar-era homosexuality. to impress a man with whom he was infatuated. During that time he met a Chicago soldier also awaiting release. She made her way to New York City. Louis before being discharged. in Croatia. Burroughs began living with Joan Vollmer Adams in an apartment they shared with Jack Kerouac and Edie Parker. shortly after the bombing of Pearl Harbor brought the U. against the wishes of his parents. not an officer. a University of Chicago student. There.[9] After returning to the U. Burroughs followed. Vollmer Adams was married to a GI with whom she had a young daughter.S. the two fledgling authors were unable to get it published. into World War II. he met Ilse Klapper. Kerouac's first wife. homosexuals. Austria. except for brief flirtations as a graduate student of anthropology at Harvard and as a medical student in Vienna. Joan Vollmer In 1944. Carr's homosexual admirer. right at the knuckle. Julie Adams. This incident inspired Burroughs and Kerouac to collaborate on a novel entitled And the Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks. and moved in a circle of exiles. he held a string of uninteresting jobs. Shortly before the 1929 stock market crash they sold their stock for $200. His mother recognized her son's depression and got Burroughs a civilian disability discharge — a release from duty based on the premise he should have not been allowed to enlist due to previous mental instability. a Jewish woman fleeing the country's Nazi government.[10] This event made its way into his early fiction as the short story "The Finger. But when he was classified as a 1-A Infantry. to allow her to gain a visa to the United States. The two were never romantically involved. including one as an exterminator. . and once Burroughs was free. his emotional health became a concern for his parents.

[11] Vollmer’s daughter. Vollmer would become Burroughs’ common law wife.[14] After leaving Mexico. He eventually sold heroin in Greenwich Village to support his habit.[12] Nevertheless. Vollmer also became an addict. Burroughs was soon arrested for forging a narcotics prescription and was sentenced to return to his parents' care in St. went to St. Burroughs shot and killed Vollmer in a drunken game of "William Tell" at a party above the American-owned Bounty Bar in Mexico City. Mexico and South America Burroughs fled to Mexico to escape possible detention in Louisiana's Angola state prison. Burroughs reported every Monday morning to the jail in Mexico City while his prominent Mexican attorney worked to resolve the case. However. but her drug of choice was Benzedrine. Burroughs. In 1951. which promised the user telepathy. biographers argue. He spent 13 days in jail before his brother came to Mexico City and bribed Mexican lawyers and officials to release Burroughs on bail while he awaited trial for the killing. and moved with her and her daughter to Texas. released Vollmer from the psychiatric ward of Bellevue Hospital. Vollmer soon became pregnant with Burroughs's child. Burroughs also attended classes at Mexico City College in 1950 studying Spanish. The Yage Letters. he returned to New York. an amphetamine sold over the counter at that time. Louis to live with his grandparents. Burroughs planned to stay in Mexico for at least five years. was published in 1963 by City Lights Books. this event marked him and. William S. The family moved briefly to New Orleans in 1948. Burroughs decided. . the trial was continuously delayed and Burroughs began to write what would eventually become the short novel Queer while awaiting his trial. was born in 1947. Vollmer and their children followed him. Burroughs drifted through South America for several months. and William S. Burroughs began using morphine and quickly became addicted. A book. Their son. Burroughs was arrested after police searched his home and found letters between him and Allen Ginsberg referring to a possible delivery of marijuana. He was convicted in absentia of homicide and sentenced to two years. and the custody of her child was endangered. Burroughs. when his attorney fled Mexico after his own legal problems involving a car accident and altercation with the son of a government official. composed of letters between Burroughs and Ginsberg. to "skip" and return to the United States. which was ruled culpable homicide. according to Ted Morgan. Jr. his work for the rest of his life.During this time.[13] Although Burroughs was writing before the shooting of Joan Vollmer. Jr. Vollmer's addiction led to a temporary psychosis.. looking for a drug called Yagé. Because of her addiction and social circle. and the ballistics experts were bribed to support this story. the length of his charge's statute of limitations. According to James Grauerholz two witnesses had agreed to testify that the gun had gone off accidentally while he was checking to see if it was loaded. her husband immediately divorced her after returning from the war. "Mexican picture writing" (codices) and the Mayan language. which resulted in her admission to a hospital. Yet after Burroughs completed his "house arrest" in St. Louis. which was suspended. Louis. Julie Adams. went to live with her grandmother.

In any case. the publisher of Junkie. he decided to head for Tangier. was not forthcoming with his royalties and his parents were threatening to cut off his allowance. and a constant need to escape from possession. the Ugly Spirit.[17] Burroughs went to Rome to meet Alan Ansen on a vacation financed from his parents' continuing support. see main article: Naked Lunch During 1953.[18] In a home owned by a known procurer of homosexual prostitutes for visiting American and English men. inspired by Paul Bowles' fiction. and to a realization of the extent to which this event has motivated and formulated my writing. Years later. Wyn.[19] Burroughs lived in Tangier for several months. Ace Books published the novel in 1953 as part of an Ace Double under the pen name William Lee. he rented a room and began to write a large body of text that he personally referred to as Interzone. Naked Lunch For more information. from control. A. (it was later republished as Junkie or Junky). Burroughs was at loose ends. who was instrumental in getting the work published. A.[15] Yet he had begun to write in 1945. he was unable to live in the cities towards which he was most inclined. as well as attempting to write commercial articles about Tangier. was finally published in Word Virus[16].Beginning of literary career Burroughs later said that shooting Vollmer was a pivotal event in his life. He sent these . a mystery novel loosely based on the Carr/Kammerer situation that was left unpublished. and New York City with Allen Ginsberg. Burroughs had largely completed his first two novels in Mexico. a compendium of William Burroughs's writing that was published after his death in 1997." An excerpt of this work. and maneuvered me into a life long struggle. Due to legal problems. Before Vollmer died. Morocco. even as a cheap mass market paperback. All signs pointed him back to Tangier. Burroughs and Kerouac collaborated on And the Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks. and one which provoked his writing: I am forced to the appalling conclusion that I would never have become a writer but for Joan's death. Burroughs described it as "not a very distinguished work. in which Burroughs and Kerouac wrote alternating chapters. before returning to the United States where he suffered several personal indignities—Ginsberg was in California and refused to see him. When Ginsberg refused his romantic advances. Junkie was written at the urging of Allen Ginsberg. So the death of Joan brought me in contact with the invader. He left in November 1954 and spent the next four years there working on the fiction that would later become Naked Lunch. although Queer would not be published until 1985. the fact remains that Burroughs did not become a full time writer until after the shooting. I live with the constant threat of possession. in which I have had no choice except to write my way out. When he found Rome and Ansen’s company dreary. a place where his parents would have to continue the support and one where drugs were freely available. Florida. He spent time with his parents in Palm Beach. in the documentary What Happened to Kerouac?. retitling it Junkie: Confessions of an Unredeemed Drug Addict.

but literary critics such as Mary McCarthy. a quarterly journal partially subsidized by the university. and arrange these episodes into Naked Lunch.[21] At the Beat Hotel Burroughs discovered "a port of entry" into Gysin's canvases: "I don't think I had ever seen painting until I saw the painting of Brion Gysin. liposuction. his literary agent for Junkie. In 1966 the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court declared the work "not obscene" on the basis of criteria developed largely to defend the book. it slowly became notorious across Europe and the United States. Once published in the United States. these copies elicited such contempt. The novel was initially rejected by City Lights Books. and Nova Express (1963). He began slicing up phrases and words to create new sentences. 1. but he was fired from his position in 1958 after Chicago Daily News columnist Jack Mabley (1915-2006) called the first excerpt obscene. The manuscripts that produced Naked Lunch also produced the later works The Soft Machine (1961). who had traveled to Tangier in 1957. helped Burroughs type. the publisher of Ginsberg's Howl. Irving Rosenthal. Perhaps thinking of his crazed physician.[20] Whereas Junkie and Queer were conventional in style. the editors were accused of sending obscene material through the United States Mail by the United States Postmaster General. and Olympia Press publisher Maurice Girodias. Although not considered science fiction. Eventually. a work consisting of words only. Under the strong influence of a marijuana confection known as majoun and a German-made opioid called Eukodol. This controversy made Naked Lunch interesting to Girodias again.[23] Excerpts from Naked Lunch were first published in the United States in 1958. which influenced all of Burroughs' . Dr Benway. and he published the novel in 1959. followed by other states. was published. After the novel was published. student editor of Chicago Review. The Ticket That Exploded (1962). and the crack pandemic. Scenes were slid together with little care for narrative. who had published English language novels in France that were controversial for their subjective views of sex and anti-social characters. The case against Burroughs's novel still stands as the last obscenity trial against a work of literature—that is. These novels feature extensive use of the cut-up technique. a collection of short stories. autoerotic fatalities. and not including illustrations or photographs — prosecuted in the United States. who ruled that copies could not be mailed to subscribers. however. the book does seem to forecast—with eerie prescience — such later phenomena as AIDS."[22] The two would cultivate a long-term friendship that revolved around a mutual interest in artworks and cut-up techniques. Burroughs was exposed to Brion Gysin's cut-up technique at the Beat Hotel in Paris in September 1959. promised to publish more excerpts from Naked Lunch.writings to Ginsberg. but none were published until 1989 when Interzone. garnering interest from not just members of the counterculture of the 1960s. Burroughs settled in to write. a book whose creation was to a certain extent the result of a series of contingencies. he described Naked Lunch as a book that could be cut into at any point. edit. Naked Lunch was prosecuted as obscene by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Naked Lunch was his first venture into a non-linear style. But Allen Ginsberg worked to get excerpts published in Black Mountain Review and Chicago Review in 1958. Rosenthal went on to publish more in his newly created literary journal Big Table No. Ginsberg and Kerouac. After the publication of Naked Lunch.

Dent. Rinehart & Winston in the 1980s. he left a brewing legal problem. a well known English medical doctor who spearheaded a painless heroin withdrawal treatment using an electronic box affixed to the patient's temple. Once again. Tangier with its easy access to drugs. Keith Richards and Anita Pallenberg would take this same cure over a decade later from Dr.[26] Naked Lunch was featured in a 1959 Life magazine cover story. combined with the possibilities of mixing in text written by other writers. Yet it was under this impending threat of criminal sanction that Maurice Girodias published Naked Lunch. In this sense the cut-up method may be considered as analogous to the collage method in the visual arts. and sound. deemphasizes the traditional role of the writer as creator or originator of a string of words. which eventually transferred itself to Paris. growing political unrest and odd collection of criminals became increasingly unhealthy for Burroughs. When it was published in this authentically random manner. Ginsberg and Peter Orlovsky for several months after Naked Lunch first appeared. this time in Paris for conspiracy to import opiates. and Burroughs used the $3. via Somerville's tape recorders. Burroughs was so dedicated to the cut-up method that he often defended his use of the technique before editors and publishers. small groups of homosexuals. The cut-up method. In so doing. The London years Burroughs left Paris for London in 1966 to take the cure again with Dr. During his friendship and artistic collaborations with Brion Gysin and Ian Sommerville the technique was combined with images. when the Moroccan authorities forwarded their investigation to French officials. preparing the parts in no particular order. and it was helpful in getting Burroughs a suspended sentence. Lund gave up Burroughs and some evidence implicated Burroughs in the possible importation into France of narcotics. Paris and the 'Beat Hotel' Burroughs moved to a run down hotel in Latin Quarter of Paris in 1959 when Naked Lunch was still looking for a publisher. Smitty. International rights to the work were sold soon after. Paul Lund. who lived in the attic room. The 'Beat Hotel' was a typical European style rooming house hotel. Girodias had given Burroughs only ten days to prepare the manuscript for print galleys. was arrested on suspicion of importing narcotics into France. Dent's nurse. because of its random or mechanical basis for text generation. and a small place for personal cooking in the room. is a respected profession in France. with common toilets on every floor.subsequent fiction to a degree. partly as an article that highlighted the growing Beat literary movement. Burroughs ended up working out of London for six . [27] Though he ultimately relapsed. as a literary career. and Burroughs sent over the manuscript in pieces. the man faced criminal charges.[25] He went to Paris to meet Ginsberg and talk with Olympia Press. a former British career criminal and cigarette smuggler Burroughs met in Tangier. Gysin's paintings. most notably Dick Seaver at Grove Press in the 1960s[24] and Holt. Burroughs liked it better than the initial plan. The actual process of publication was partly a function of its 'cut-up' presentation to the printer. inexpensive hotel was populated by Gregory Corso. Life there was documented by the photographer Harold Chapman.000 advance from Grove Press to buy drugs. according to Ted Morgan. while simultaneously exalting the importance of the writer's sensibility as an editor. This shabby.

Missouri taking a large advance from Playboy to write an article about his trip back to St. He eventually found an apartment. actually traveling with Billy to Lexington. In 1972. In the "Afterward" to the compilation of his son's two previously published novels Speed and Kentucky Ham. Return to U.S.[29] Burroughs supported himself and his addiction by publishing pieces in small literary presses. would remain lifelong friends and collaborators. He developed a close friendship with Anthony Balch and lived with a young hustler named John Brady who continuously brought home young women despite Burroughs' protestations. In 1968 Burroughs joined Jean Genet.[31] In the 1960s Burroughs also joined and left the Church of Scientology. John Sack. The dwelling was a partially converted YMCA gym. and Terry Southern in covering the 1968 Democratic National Convention for Esquire magazine. after Burroughs refused to alter the style for Playboy's publishers. including one time escorting his son to Lexington Narcotics Farm and Prison after the younger Burroughs had been convicted of prescription fraud in Florida.S. His avant garde reputation grew internationally as the hippie counterculture discovered his earlier works. Kentucky from Miami to ensure his son entered the hospital he once spent time in as a volunteer admission.[28] Earlier Burroughs revisited St. Allen Ginsberg gained for Burroughs a contract to teach creative writing at the City College of New York. The Last Words of Dutch Schulz (1969). Burroughs and Southern unsuccessfully attempted to adapt Naked Lunch for the screen in conjunction with American game show producer Chuck Barris. affectionately dubbed "The Bunker. In 1974. Burroughs managed to complete two works: a novel written in screen play format. Southern and Burroughs." on the Lower East Side of Manhattan at 222 Bowery. complete with . Burroughs successfully withdrew from heroin use and moved to New York. Schroeppel [30] and passionately studied the manuscripts that were made available from the Institute for Advanced Perception. Louis that was eventually published in The Paris Review. Burroughs archives at Ohio State University. along with four pages of notes exist in the William S. He claims he went through the most excruciating two months of opiate withdrawal while seeing his son through his trial and sentencing. In talking about the experience.years.[32] His subsequent critical writings about the church and his review of Inside Scientology by Robert Kaufman led to a battle of letters between Burroughs and Scientology supporters in the pages of Rolling Stone magazine. Burroughs writes that he thought he had a "small habit" and left London quickly without any narcotics because he suspected the U. who had first become acquainted in London. concerned about his friend's well-being. he was skeptical of the organization itself. he claimed that the techniques and philosophy of Scientology helped him and that he felt that further study into Scientology would produce great results. The teachings were known as the Lessons in Advanced Perception. In the midst of this personal turmoil. Louis. customs would search him very thoroughly on arrival. However. dated February 1960. and the traditional prose-format novel The Wild Boys (1971). and felt that it fostered an environment that did not accept critical discussion. Copies of these manuscripts. Burroughs was a fan of Harold S. traveling back to the United States on several notable occasions.

The diagnosis was liver cirrhosis so complete that the only treatment was a rarely performed liver transplant operation. doubling the rent overnight. which eventually aided in obtaining new publishing contracts. as he lasted only a semester as a professor. then entangled in a legal problem) in addition to panel discussions with Timothy Leary & Robert Anton Wilson and concerts featuring The B-52's. and Grauerholz. The event included readings from Southern. Burroughs became a monthly columnist for the noted popular culture magazine Crawdaddy. Patti Smith.[35] his brief marriage to a teenage waitress had disintegrated. Allen Ginsberg was supportive to both Burroughs and his son throughout the long period of recovery. Smith. Although Billy had successfully published two short novels in the 1970s. Throughout early 1977. Ginsberg. John Giorno. for which he interviewed Led Zeppelin's Jimmy Page in 1975. who worked for Burroughs part-time as a secretary as well as in a book store.lockers and communal showers. and Frank Zappa (who filled in at the last minute for Keith Richards. the University of Colorado Medical Center was one of two places in the nation that performed transplants under the pioneering work of Dr. It was Grauerholz who floated the idea of reading tours. Giorno. there were long periods where Billy was out of contact with any of his family or friends. Billy underwent the procedure and beat the thirty-percent survival odds.000 a semester. Financed by a reclusive acquaintance of Burroughs. he found the students uninteresting and without much creative talent. or stand-up comedian dates in clubs across the country. and was deemed by literary critics like Ann Charters as a bona fide "second generation beat writer". Grauerholz had managed several rock bands in Kansas and took the lead in booking Burroughs reading tours that would help support him throughout the next two decades. You were giving out all this energy and nothing was coming back."[34] His savior was the newly arrived. The building fell within New York City rent control policies that made it extremely cheap. Burroughs decided to relocate back to the United States permanently in 1976. the Nova Convention was a multimedia retrospective of Burroughs's work held from 30 November to 2 December 1978 at various locations throughout New York. Through Grauerholz.[33] Burroughs added "teacher" to the list of jobs he did not like. Ted Morgan’s biography asserts that their relationship was not spontaneous and lacked real warmth or intimacy. Thomas Starzl. Organized by Columbia professor Sylvère Lotringer. Although he needed income desperately. Under his constant drinking. Suicide. Colorado. and Debbie Harry & Chris Stein. helping Billy through many additional surgeries and complications. in fact. It raised his public profile. the project lost traction after financial problems and creative disagreements between Hopper and Burroughs. Lou Reed. Fortunately. Burroughs senior had not seen his son for over a year and was alarmed at his appearance when Billy arrived at Ginsberg’s apartment.[36] . "The teaching gig was a lesson in never again. Billy Burroughs was eating dinner with his father and Allen Ginsberg in Boulder. and Susan Sontag. Burroughs collaborated with Southern and Dennis Hopper on a screen adaptation of Junky. something similar to rock and roll touring. Philip Glass. He then began to associate with New York cultural players such as Andy Warhol. frequently entertaining them at the Bunker. he even turned down a teaching position at the University at Buffalo for $15. it was only about four hundred dollars a month until 1981 when the rent control rules changed. In 1976. at Ginsberg’s Buddhist poetry school (Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics) at Chogyam Trungpa's Naropa University when he began to vomit blood. His father spent many months in 1976 and 1977 in Colorado. twenty-one-year-old book seller and Beat Generation devotee James Grauerholz.

He died shortly afterwards. He had stopped taking his transplant rejection drugs and was found near the side of a Florida highway by a stranger. [37] In 1981. timetravel adventures where Burroughs's narrators rewrite episodes in history and thus reform mankind. This deal included the publication rights to the 1953 unpublished novel Queer. Burroughs was in New York when he heard from Allen Ginsberg of the tragedy. still without a straight linear form. Burroughs himself. In 1984 he signed a seven-book deal with Viking Press after he signed with literary agent Andrew Wylie. He had cut off contact with his father several years before. James Grauerholz (who managed Burroughs's reading tours in the 80s and 90s) mentions that part of his job was to deal with the “underworld” in each city to secure the author’s needed drugs. The novel was written as a straight narrative and then chopped up into a more random pattern. after it was deemed too disjointed.In London. in 1981 and lived the remainder of his life there.[40] . G.[39] He was finally inducted into the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters in 1983 after several attempts by Allen Ginsberg to get him accepted. Grauerholz helped edit Cities when it was first rejected by Burroughs' long-time editor Dick Seaver at Holt Rinehart. which were organically accidental from the start. the novel was reassembled and published. The liver transplant had not cured his urge to drink. even publishing an article in Esquire magazine claiming the author had poisoned his life and revealing that he had been molested by one of his father's friends as a fourteen-year-old while visiting his father in Tangier. leaving the reader to sort through the characters and events.[37] Reviews were mixed for Cities. Ballard. Lawrence Ferlinghetti remarked the induction of Burroughs into the Academy proved Herbert Marcuse's point that capitalistic society had a great ability to incorporate its one-time outsiders. He attended the induction ceremony in May 1983. Kansas. Although Burroughs would have episodes of being free from heroin. other reviewers. and Billy suffered from serious health complications years after the operation.[38] Later years in Kansas Burroughs moved to Lawrence. was once again addicted to heroin. Burroughs. The back-and-forth sway of the read replicated the theme of the trilogy. Novelist and critic Anthony Burgess panned the work in Saturday Review. from this point until his death he was regularly addicted to the drug. Nevertheless. but with fewer breaks in the story. saying Burroughs was boring readers with repetitive episodes of pederast fantasy and sexual strangulation that lacked any comprehensible world view or theology.000. coupled with "gifts" from the overzealous if well-intentioned admirers who frequently visited the Bunker. With this money he purchased a small bungalow for $29. something that he had previously kept to himself. The Place of Dead Roads (1983) and The Western Lands (1987). He died in 1997 on a methadone maintenance program. argued that Burroughs was shaping a new literary "mythography". at 1927 Learnard Avenue. In an introduction to Last Words: The Final Journals of William S. like J. Between 1981 and 1987 he published Cities of the Red Night (1981). Billy Burroughs died in Florida. by 1979. This technique was definitely different from the author's earlier cut-up methods. The cheap heroin that was easily purchased outside his door on the Lower East Side "made its way" into his veins. he had begun to write what would become the first novel of a three book trilogy.

Publication of a memoir by Burroughs entitled Evil River by Viking Press has been delayed several times. Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy and Ministry. a play which opened at the Thalia Theatre in Hamburg in 1990.[44] In December 2007. Aside from numerous previously released pieces.m. A collaboration with musicians Nick Cave and Tom Waits resulted in a collection of short prose.[8] He was interred in the family plot in Bellefontaine Cemetery in St. with musical backup from producers Hal Willner and Nelson Lyon. and then shooting at the paint cans with a shotgun. Ohio State University Press released Everything Lost: The Latin . Burroughs also developed a painting technique whereby he created abstract compositions by placing spray paint cans in front of. but no such release has. and was later performed all over Europe and the U. and in Gus Van Sant's 1989 film Drugstore Cowboy." The grave lies to the right of the white granite obelisk of William Seward Burroughs I (1857-1898). These splattered canvasses were shown in a Chicago gallery in the late 1980s and a New York City gallery in the early 1990s. A few months after his death. with Burroughs's sanction. an unpublished novel by Burroughs and Kerouac. complete with an ISBN number (ISBN 0670813516). blank canvasses. Smack My Crack.S. and alternative rock band Sonic Youth. Louis. A collection of journal entries written during the final months of Burroughs's life was published as the book Last Words in 2000.Burroughs became a counterculture figure and inspired 1970’s proto punk rock band Doctors of Madness and in the 1980’s collaborated with performers ranging from Bill Laswell's Material and Laurie Anderson to Throbbing Gristle. 1997 from complications of a heart attack he had suffered the previous day. at 6:50 p. He also collaborated with Tom Waits and director Robert Wilson to create The Black Rider. Burroughs's final filmed performance was in the video for "Last Night on Earth" by Irish rock band U2.[41] During his later years in Kansas. after initially being announced for a 2005 release. filmed in Kansas City. Word Virus. to date. The film opened to critical acclaim. Missouri. in 1993. Missouri. and some distance from.com indicated a 2007 release. on August 2. In 1990. Word Virus also included one of the few surviving fragments of And the Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks. he released the spoken word album Dead City Radio. a collection of writings spanning his entire career. to critical acclaim. several posthumous collections of Burroughs's work have been published. a group whose very existence would not have been possible without his works. Web retailers such as Amazon. directed by Richie Smyth and also featuring Sophie Dahl. Burroughs himself approved its contents prior to his death)[16]. occurred. In 1991. director David Cronenberg took on the seemingly impossible task of adapting Naked Lunch into a full-length feature film. "the "Priest" they called him". the Illuminates of Thanateros.[43] with a marker bearing his full name and the epitaph "American Writer. playing a character based on a short story he published in Exterminator!. He became a member of a chaos magic organization.[42] Death Burroughs died in Lawrence. later released as a spoken word album in 1987. After his death Since 1997. was published (according to the book's introduction.

Naked Lunch and Junkie/Junky have been published in recent years. Reaction to critics and view on criticism Several literary critics treated Burroughs's work harshly. blending into the cut-up and fold-in fiction also heavily drawn from The Word Hoard: The Soft Machine. mature stage. London. Interzone also derives from this period. The only major novel written in this period was The Wild Boys. The Ticket That Exploded. The dates refer to the time of writing. selfdescribed by Burroughs as an attempt to create "a mythology for the space age". The Cut-Up Period (mid 1950s to mid 1960s): Naked Lunch is a fragmentary collection of "routines" from The Word Hoard . but he also wrote dozens of published articles.. The complete Kerouac/Burroughs manuscript And the Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks was published for the first time in November 2008. all containing additional material and essays on the works. not publication.) such . creating a complete mythology. (.American Journals of William S. yet they themselves seem to have no standards other than personal prejudice for literary criticism. the book contains transcriptions of journal entries made by Burroughs during the time of composing Queer and The Yage Letters. scrap books and other works. Queer and The Yage Letters are relatively straightforward linear narratives. Edited by Oliver Harris..[46] Literary style and periods Burroughs's major works can be divided into four different periods. special editions of The Yage Letters. short stories. For example Anatole Broyard and Philip Toynbee wrote devastating reviews of some of his most important books. also referred to as "The Nova Trilogy" or "the Nova Epic". Burroughs also produced numerous essays and a large body of autobiographical material. The Place of Dead Roads and The Western Lands came from Burroughs in a final. Experiment & Subversion (mid 1960s to mid 1970s): This period saw Burroughs continue experimental writing with increased political content and branching into multimedia such as film and sound recording. Burroughs answers his critics in this way: Critics constantly complain that writers are lacking in standards. which in some cases was not until decades later:     Early Work (early 1950s): Junkie. Paris. including a book with a detailed account of his own dreams (My Education: A Book of Dreams). In a short essay entitled A Review of the Reviewers. The Red Night Trilogy (mid 1970s to mid 1980s): The books Cities of the Red Night. Nova Express. The major anthologies representing work from this period are The Burroughs File.[45] In addition. written in and about Burroughs's time in Mexico City and South America. several in collaboration with Brion Gyson. Burroughs.manuscripts written in Tangier. as well as of some other texts written in South America such as "The Composite City". The Adding Machine and Exterminator!.

Ian Curtis. Still others consider his concepts and attitude more influential than his prose. – William S. God help him. Jean Genet. He is also cited as a major influence by musicians Roger Waters. Patti Smith. homosexuality and death. Burroughs nevertheless criticized Anatole Broyard for reading authorial intentionality into his works where there is none. I would also apply a fourth criterion (. Legacy Burroughs is often called one of the greatest and most influential writers of the twentieth century. More writers fail because they try to write about things they don't know than for any other reason. most notably by Norman Mailer whose quote on Burroughs. "The only American novelist living today who may conceivably be possessed by genius". Burroughs. Burroughs's writing continues to be referenced years after his death. Tom Waits and Kurt Cobain. for example. 'A Review of the Reviewers [47] Burroughs clearly indicates here that he prefers to be evaluated against such criteria over being reviewed based on the reviewer's personal reactions to a certain book. a November 2004 episode of the TV series CSI: Crime Scene Investigation included an evil character named Dr. the cyberpunk schools of science fiction are indebted to him. "Dennis Cooper. to name only two. in his essay 'King Junk'. providing gay liberation with a delicious edge. Genesis POrridge. appears on many Burroughs publications. of whom Burroughs said. in return. Alan Moore. Lee (a Burroughs pen name) are paged. Lou Reed. is a born writer. Prominent admirers of Burroughs's work have included British critic and biographer Peter Ackroyd. Matthew Arnold set up three criteria for criticism: 1.) Write about what you know. How well does he succeed in doing it? (. First published in 1982." Splatterpunk writer Poppy Z. life and death and the human condition... What is the writer trying to do? 2. Charles Bukowski. consider him overrated. Benway (named for an amoral physician who appears in a number of Burroughs's works). Laurie Anderson.) 3. Angela Carter. which sets him at odds both with New Criticism and the old school as represented by Mathew Arnold. the rock critic Lester Bangs and the authors J. "along with Jean Genet. [Burroughs] helped make homosexuality seem cool and highbrow. and Ginsberg. Both the New Wave and. Ballard. Admirers from the late 1970s—early 1980s milieu of this subgenre include William Gibson and John Shirley. Others. Benway and Mr. William Gibson. wrote. in which both Dr. Brite has frequently referenced this aspect of Burroughs's work... Always a contradictory figure. the British slipstream fiction magazine Interzone (which later evolved into a more traditional science fiction magazine) paid tribute to him with its choice of name. This is an echo of the hospital scene in the movie Repo Man." Cooper. common among Burroughs's themes. G. have been taken up by Dennis Cooper. Does the work exhibit "high seriousness"? That is. does it touch on basic issues of good and evil. however. Burroughs was cited by Robert Anton Wilson as the first person to notice the "23 Enigma": .standards do exist.[48] Drugs. Burroughs continues to be named as an influence by contemporary writers of fiction. especially. made during Burroughs's lifetime. and Ken Kesey. John Rechy.

Clark’s ship had an accident that killed him and everybody else aboard. John Cage. Furthermore. Donald Fagen. In 1992 he recorded "Quick Fix" with Ministry. The pilot was another Captain Clark and the flight was Flight 23. Burroughs reads the short story of the same name. Burroughs participated on numerous album releases by Giorno Poetry Systems." In 1992 Burroughs worked with The Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy on Spare Ass Annie and Other Tales. Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic is featured on the cover as the titular "Priest.'s "Star Me Kitten" for a special version of the song on the Songs in the Key of X: Music from and Inspired by the X-Files soundtrack.E. The remastered edition of Sonic Youth's album Goo includes a longer version of "Dr. mix. Home of the Brave. Nova Express. The video ends with a close up of his eyes." Burroughs also made an appearance in the video for "Just One Fix.M. —Robert Anton Wilson.I first heard of the 23 Enigma from William S. Burroughs provided vocal samples for the soundtrack of Anderson's 1986 concert film. author of Naked Lunch. According to Burroughs. Lenny Pickett. while Kurt Cobain creates layers of guitar feedback and distortion. It was produced by Hal Willner and Nelson Lyon.B. Benway's House. while Burroughs was thinking about this crude example of the irony of the gods that evening. In addition. on Dead City Radio. Sonic Youth. He also recites the lyrics of R.S. Burroughs. including The Nova Convention (featuring Frank Zappa. which appeared on their single for "Just One Fix." which had appeared." The same year he also worked on the EP the "Priest" they called him. a bulletin on the radio announced the crash of an airliner in Florida. in shorter form. Burroughs appears near the end of U2's music video Last Night on Earth. That very day. Fortean Times[49] Appearances in media In music Burroughs appears on the cover of The Beatles eighth studio album. . Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. who once bragged that he had been sailing 23 years without an accident. with musical accompaniment from John Cale. He is featured in a spoken word piece entitled "Sharkey's Night" on Laurie Anderson's album Mister Heartbreak. Sgt. Island Records released Dead City Radio. and made a cameo appearance in it. etc. pushing a shopping cart with a large spotlight positioned inside it. USA. Chris Stein. In 1990. he had known a certain Captain Clark. and others. and Philip Glass) and You're the Guy I Want to Share My Money With (with John Giorno and Laurie Anderson)." The single featured cover art by Burroughs and a remix of the song dubbed the "W. around 1960 in Tangier. a collection of readings set to a broad range of musical compositions. with the duo providing musical background and accompaniment to Burroughs's spoken readings from several of his books.

Moondog. indignation. As a fictional character Burroughs was fictionalized in Jack Kerouac's autobiographical novel On the Road as "Old Bull Lee". In film and television Burroughs played Opium Jones in the 1966 Conrad Rooks cult film Chappaqua.[51] Burroughs narrated part of the 1980 documentary Shamans of the Blind Country by anthropologist and filmmaker Michael Oppitz. which also featured cameo roles by Allen Ginsberg.[52] He gave a reading on Saturday Night Live on 7 November 1981. He is presented as a polar opposite of Allen Ginsberg. as Ginsberg believed in everything and Burroughs believed in nothing. recordings of Burroughs reading his short stories "A Junky's Christmas" and "Ah Pook is Here" were used to great effect on the soundtracks of two highly acclaimed animated film adaptations. . Burroughs subsequently made cameo appearances in a number of other films and videos. In the 2004 novel Move Under Ground. or any other recognizable human emotion. Burroughs appears in the first part of The Illuminatus! Trilogy by Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson during the 1968 Democratic Convention riots and is described as a person devoid of anger. intercut with a collage of black and white images. Spring Heel Jack released the album Oddities. and others. A documentary titled Burroughs.In 2000. in an episode hosted by Lauren Hutton. was released in 1984. In 1968. Burroughs. and Decoder by Klaus Maeck. which had originally appeared on the remix album Seven Souls. on which appears the band's remix of Material's "Road to the Western Lands. Nov.[50] He also appeared in a number of short films in the 1960s directed by Balch. as the noise of the city rises around him he pauses in the middle of the intersection and speaks the single word "ominous". 1986.[53] He played an aging junkie priest in Gus Van Sant's 1989 film Drugstore Cowboy. directed by Howard Brookner." from Tornado Alley. He also appears briefly at the beginning of Van Sant's Even Cowgirls Get the Blues (based on the Tom Robbins novel). in an elliptic story about the first Gulf War. produced by Anthony Balch. subtitled Witchcraft Through The Ages. featured an eclectic jazz score by Daniel Humair and narration by Burroughs. Van Sant's short film "Thanksgiving Prayer" features Burroughs reading the poem "Thanksgiving Day. It included footage of Burroughs and many of his friends and colleagues. passion. in which he is seen crossing a city street. in which he plays a beekeeper. Robert Anton Wilson would recount in his Cosmic Trigger Vol II his having interviewed both Burroughs and Ginsberg for Playboy the day the riots began as well as his experiences with Robert Shea during the riots. Near the end of his life. providing some detail on the creation of the fictional sequence. hope. an abbreviated—77 minutes as opposed to the original's 104 minutes—version of Benjamin Christensen's 1922 film Häxan was released. and Kerouac team up to defeat Cthulhu." featuring Burroughs. 28. such as David Blair's Wax: or the Discovery of Television among the Bees. This version. Neal Cassady.

[55] The American extreme metal band Success Will Write Apocalypse Across the Sky took their name from the 1989 text "Apocalypse". from Hull. British band Soft Machine took its moniker from a Burroughs novel of the same name. after a quote from Nova Express. their only album was titled Storm the Reality Studios. as did the Protopunk band Dead Fingers Talk. a group named after a dildo in Naked Lunch.[54] Also from Naked Lunch came the name The Mugwumps."[57] .[56] in which Burroughs describes "art and creative expression taking a literal and physical form. England.Band names Many musical aggregations have found their names in Burroughs's work. The most widely known of these is Steely Dan. Thin White Rope took their name for Burroughs's euphemism for ejaculation. Alt-country band Clem Snide is named for a Burroughs character.