William S. Burroughs



William Seward Burroughs II ; also known by his pen name William Lee; February 5, 1914 – August 2, 1997 was an American novelist, poet, essayist and spoken word performer. Burroughs was a primary figure of the Beat Generation and a major postmodernist author who affected popular culture as well as literature. He is considered to be "one of the most politically trenchant, culturally influential, and innovative artists of the twentieth century."[1] Burroughs wrote eighteen novels and novellas, six collections of short stories and four collections of essays. Five books have been published of his interviews and correspondences. Burroughs also collaborated on projects and recordings with numerous performers and musicians, and made many appearances in films.

He was born to a wealthy family in St. Louis, Missouri, grandson of the founder of the Burroughs Corporation, William Seward Burroughs I, and nephew of public relations manager Ivy Lee. Burroughs began writing essays and journals in early adolescence. He left home in 1932 to attend Harvard University, studying English and anthropology, but after being turned down by the Office of Strategic Services and U.S. Navy to serve in World War II, dropped out and spent the next twenty years working a variety of jobs. In 1943 while living in New York City, he befriended Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac, the mutually influential foundation of what became the countercultural movement of the Beat Generation, while becoming involved in the drug addiction that affected him for the rest of his life.

Much of Burroughs's work is semi-autobiographical, primarily drawn from his experiences as a heroin addict, as he lived throughout Mexico City, London, Paris, Berlin, the South American Amazon and Tangier in Morocco. Finding success with his confessional first novel, Junkie (1953), Burroughs is perhaps best known for his third novel Naked Lunch (1959), a work wrought with controversy that underwent a court case under the sodomy laws. With Brion Gysin, he also popularized the literary cut-up technique in works such as The Nova Trilogy (1961–64). In 1983, Burroughs was elected to the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, and in 1984 was awarded the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by France. Jack Kerouac called Burroughs the "greatest satirical writer since Jonathan Swift," a reputation he owes to his "lifelong subversion"[1] of the moral, political and economic systems of modern American society, articulated in often darkly humorous sardonicism. J. G. Ballard considered Burroughs to be "the most important writer to emerge since the Second World War," while Norman Mailer declared him "the only American writer who may be conceivably possessed by genius."

Burroughs had one child in 1947, William Seward Burroughs III, with his second wife Joan Vollmer, who died in 1951 in Mexico City after Burroughs accidentally shot her in the head while drunk, an event that deeply permeated all of his writings. Burroughs died at his home in Lawrence, Kansas after suffering a heart attack in 1997.

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1963: Himself - William Buys a Parrot
1993: Narrator - The Junky's Christmas
1994: Himself - Glitterbug
1963: Towers Open Fire
1966: The Cut Ups
1982: Ghost at No. 9
1991: A Speaker - Thanksgiving Prayer
1991: Himself - William S. Burroughs: Commissioner of Sewers
1998: himself - Destroy All Rational Thought
1992: Himself - Naked Making Lunch
2010: Himself - William S. Burroughs: A Man Within
1994: Himself - Relics: Einstein's Brain
1999: Himself - Let It Come Down: The Life of Paul Bowles
1985: Himself - Ornette: Made in America
2000: Condo Painting
1972: Himself - Bill and Tony
1986: Himself - Home of the Brave
1994: Narrator - Ah Pook Is Here.
1984: Himself - Burroughs: The Movie
1983: The Dream Machine
1987: Pirate Tape
1981: Energy and How to Get It
1968: Narrator - Häxan: Witchcraft Through The Ages
2007: Words of Advice: William S. Burroughs On the Road
2015: William S. Burroughs: The Possessed
2009: Narrator (voice) - Nova Express
1983: This Song for Jack
1967: Himself - Poem Posters
Mafioso - It Don't Pay to Be an Honest Citizen
1999: The Making of Drugstore Cowboy
2015: Robert E. Fulton III Edit of Burroughs: The Movie
1989: Himself - Gang of Souls: A Generation of Beat Poets
1966: Opium Jones - Chappaqua
2009: Himself - FLicKeR
1991: James "Hive" Maker - Wax, or The Discovery of Television Among the Bees
2008: Himself - Obscene: A Portrait of Barney Rosset and Grove Press
1969: Cain's Film
2003: Himself (Archive Footage) - The Battle for 'I Am Curious-Yellow'
1982: Poetry in Motion
1984: Old Man - Decoder
1976: Underground and Emigrants
1981: Chelsea Hotel
1989: Man in Barn - Twister
1978: Himself - Thot-Fal'N
2017: Himself (archive footage) - Don't Blink: Robert Frank
2006: Tom the Priest - Wanderlust
1981: Narrator (voice) - Shamans of the Blind Country
1979: Himself - Fried Shoes Cooked Diamonds
2017: Himself - Uncle Howard
1989: Tom the Priest - Drugstore Cowboy
1989: Himself - Heavy Petting
2011: Himself - Fix: The Ministry Movie
1994: Self - Even Cowgirls Get the Blues
1989: Butler - Bloodhounds of Broadway

1975: Saturday Night Live