|Birth Day:||February 25, 1917|
|Death Date:||22 November 1993(1993-11-22) (aged 76)
St John's Wood, London, England
|Birth Place:||Harpurhey, Manchester, England, British|
As per our current Database, Anthony Burgess died on 22 November 1993(1993-11-22) (aged 76)
St John's Wood, London, England.
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In 1917, Burgess was born at 91 Carisbrook Street in Harpurhey, a suburb of Manchester, England, to Catholic parents, Joseph and Elizabeth Wilson. He described his background as lower middle class; growing up during the Great Depression, his parents, who were shopkeepers, were fairly well off, as the demand for their tobacco and alcohol wares remained constant. He was known in childhood as Jack, Little Jack, and Johnny Eagle. At his confirmation, the name Anthony was added and he became John Anthony Burgess Wilson. He began using the pen name Anthony Burgess upon the publication of his 1956 novel Time for a Tiger.
His mother Elizabeth (née Burgess) died at the age of 30 at home on 19 November 1918, during the 1918 flu pandemic. The causes listed on her death certificate were influenza, acute pneumonia, and cardiac failure. His sister Muriel had died four days earlier on 15 November from influenza, broncho-pneumonia, and cardiac failure, aged eight. Burgess believed he was resented by his father, Joseph Wilson, for having survived, when his mother and sister did not.
After the death of his mother, Burgess was raised by his maternal aunt, Ann Bromley, in Crumpsall with her two daughters. During this time, Burgess's father worked as a bookkeeper for a beef market by day, and in the evening played piano at a public house in Miles Platting. After his father married the landlady of this pub, Margaret Dwyer, in 1922, Burgess was raised by his father and stepmother. By 1924 the couple had established a tobacconist and off-licence business with four properties. Burgess was briefly employed at the tobacconist shop as a child. On 18 April 1938, Joseph Wilson died from cardiac failure, pleurisy, and influenza at the age of 55, leaving no inheritance despite his apparent business success. Burgess' stepmother died of a heart attack in 1940.
Burgess spent six weeks in 1940 as an army recruit in Eskbank before becoming a Nursing Orderly Class 3 in the Royal Army Medical Corps. During his service he was unpopular and was involved in incidents such as knocking off a corporal's cap and polishing the floor of a corridor to make people slip. In 1941, Burgess was pursued by military police of the British Armed Forces for desertion after overstaying his leave from Morpeth military base with his future bride Lynne. The following year he asked to be transferred to the Army Educational Corps, and despite his loathing of authority he was promoted to sergeant. During the blackout his pregnant wife Lynne was raped and assaulted by four American deserters; perhaps as a result, she lost the child. Burgess, stationed at the time in Gibraltar, was denied leave to see her.
Burgess met Llewela "Lynne" Isherwood Jones at the University where she was studying economics, politics and modern history, graduating in 1942 with an upper second-class. She reportedly claimed to be a distant relative of Christopher Isherwood, although the Lewis and Biswell biographies dispute this. Burgess and Jones were married on 22 January 1942.
Burgess left the army in 1946 with the rank of sergeant-major and was for the next four years a lecturer in speech and drama at the Mid-West School of Education near Wolverhampton and at the Bamber Bridge Emergency Teacher Training College near Preston. Burgess taught in the extramural department of Birmingham University (1946–50).
In late 1950 he began working as a secondary school teacher at Banbury Grammar School (now Banbury School) teaching English literature. In addition to his teaching duties he supervised sports and ran the school's drama society. He organised a number of amateur theatrical events in his spare time. These involved local people and students and included productions of T. S. Eliot's Sweeney Agonistes. Reports from his former students and colleagues indicate that he cared deeply about teaching.
In 1954, Burgess joined the British Colonial Service as a teacher and education officer in Malaya, initially stationed at Kuala Kangsar in Perak. Here he taught at the Malay College (now Malay College Kuala Kangsar – MCKK), modeled on English public school lines. In addition to his teaching duties, he was a housemaster in charge of students of the preparatory school, who were housed at a Victorian mansion known as "King's Pavilion". A variety of the music he wrote there was influenced by the country, notably Sinfoni Melayu for orchestra and brass band, which included cries of Merdeka (independence) from the audience. No score, however, is extant.
Burgess was invalided home in 1959 and relieved of his position in Brunei. He spent some time in the neurological ward of a London hospital (see The Doctor is Sick) where he underwent cerebral tests that found no illness. On discharge, benefiting from a sum of money which Lynne Burgess had inherited from her father, together with their savings built up over six years in the East, he decided to become a full-time writer. The couple lived first in an apartment in Hove, near Brighton. They later moved to a semi-detached house called "Applegarth" in Etchingham, about four miles from Bateman's where Rudyard Kipling had lived in Burwash, and one mile from the Robertsbridge home of Malcolm Muggeridge. Upon the death of Burgess's father-in-law, the couple used their inheritance to decamp to a terraced town house in Chiswick. This provided convenient access to the BBC Television Centre where he later became a frequent guest. During these years Burgess became a regular drinking partner of the novelist William S. Burroughs. Their meetings took place in London and Tangiers.
After a brief period of leave in Britain during 1958, Burgess took up a further Eastern post, this time at the Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin College in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei. Brunei had been a British protectorate since 1888, and was not to achieve independence until 1984. In the sultanate, Burgess sketched the novel that, when it was published in 1961, was to be entitled Devil of a State and, although it dealt with Brunei, for libel reasons the action had to be transposed to an imaginary East African territory similar to Zanzibar, named Dunia. In his autobiography Little Wilson and Big God (1987) Burgess wrote:
A sea voyage the couple took with the Baltic Line from Tilbury to Leningrad in June 1961 resulted in the novel Honey for the Bears. He wrote in his autobiographical You've Had Your Time (1990), that in re-learning Russian at this time, he found inspiration for the Russian-based slang Nadsat that he created for A Clockwork Orange, going on to note "I would resist to the limit any publisher's demand that a glossary be provided."
His dystopian novel A Clockwork Orange was published in 1962. It was inspired initially by an incident during the Second World War in which his wife Lynne was robbed, assaulted and violated by deserters from the US Army in London during the blackout. The event may have contributed to her subsequent miscarriage. The book was an examination of free will and morality. The young anti-hero, Alex, captured after a short career of violence and mayhem, undergoes a course of aversion therapy treatment to curb his violent tendencies. This results in making him defenceless against other people and unable to enjoy some of his favourite music that, besides violence, had been an intense pleasure for him. In the non-fiction book Flame into Being (1985) Burgess described A Clockwork Orange as "a jeu d'esprit knocked off for money in three weeks, it became known as the raw material for a film which seemed to glorify sex and violence." He added "the film made it easy for readers of the book to misunderstand what it was about, and the misunderstanding will pursue me till I die." In a 1980 BBC interview Burgess distanced himself from the novel and cinematic adaptations. Near the time of publication the final chapter was cut from the American edition of the book. Burgess had written A Clockwork Orange with twenty-one chapters, meaning to match the age of majority. "21 is the symbol of human maturity, or used to be, since at 21 you got to vote and assumed adult responsibility," Burgess wrote in a foreword for a 1986 edition. Needing money and thinking that the publisher was "being charitable in accepting the work at all," Burgess accepted the deal and allowed A Clockwork Orange to be published in the US with the twenty-first chapter omitted. Stanley Kubrick's film adaptation of A Clockwork Orange was based on the American edition, and thus helped to perpetuate the loss of the last chapter.
Liliana Macellari, an Italian translator twelve years younger than Burgess, came across his novels Inside Mr. Enderby and A Clockwork Orange, while writing about English fiction. The two first met in 1963 over lunch in Chiswick and began an affair. In 1964, Liana gave birth to Burgess' son, Paolo Andrea. The affair was hidden from Burgess's alcoholic wife, whom he refused to leave for fear of offending his cousin (by Burgess's stepmother, Margaret Dwyer Wilson), George Dwyer, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Leeds.
On the BBC's Desert Island Discs radio programme in 1966, Burgess chose as his favourite music Purcell's "Rejoice in the Lord Alway"; Bach's Goldberg Variations No. 13; Elgar's Symphony No. 1 in A-flat major; Wagner's "Walter's Trial Song" from Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg; Debussy's "Fêtes" from Nocturnes; Lambert's The Rio Grande; Walton's Symphony No. 1 in B-flat minor; and Vaughan Williams' On Wenlock Edge.
Lynne Burgess died from cirrhosis of the liver, on 20 March 1968. Six months later, in September 1968, Burgess married Liana, acknowledging her four-year-old boy as his own, although the birth certificate listed Roy Halliday, Liana's former partner, as the father. Paolo Andrea (also known as Andrew Burgess Wilson) died in London in 2002, aged 37. Liana died in 2007.
Burgess announced in a 1972 interview that he was writing a novel about the Black Prince which incorporated John Dos Passos' narrative techniques, although he never finished writing it. After Burgess's death, English writer Adam Roberts completed this novel, and it was published in 2018. In 2019, a previously unpublished analysis of A Clockwork Orange was discovered titled, "The Clockwork Condition." It is structured as Burgess' philosophical musings on the novel that won him so much acclaim.
In this period, he wrote novels and produced film scripts for Lew Grade and Franco Zeffirelli. His first place of residence after leaving England was Lija, Malta (1968–70). The negative reaction from a lecture that Burgess delivered to an audience of Catholic priests in Malta precipitated a move by the couple to Italy after the Maltese government confiscated the property. (He would go on to fictionalise these events in Earthly Powers a decade later.) The Burgesses maintained a flat in Rome, a country house in Bracciano, and a property in Montalbuccio. On hearing rumours of a mafia plot to kidnap Paolo Andrea while the family was staying in Rome, Burgess decided to move to Monaco in 1975. Burgess was also motivated to move to the tax haven of Monaco as the country did not levy income tax and widows were exempt from death duties, a form of taxation on their husband's estates.
Burgess lived for two years in the United States, working as a visiting professor at Princeton University with the creative writing program (1970) and as a distinguished professor at the City College of New York (1972). At City College he was a close colleague and friend of Joseph Heller. He went on to teach creative writing at Columbia University and was writer-in-residence at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (1969) and at the University at Buffalo (1976). He lectured on the novel at the University of Iowa in 1975. Eventually he settled in Monaco in 1976, where he was active in the local community, becoming a co-founder in 1984 of the Princess Grace Irish Library, a centre for Irish cultural studies.
Several of his pieces were broadcast during his lifetime on BBC Radio. His Symphony No. 3 in C was premiered by the University of Iowa orchestra in Iowa City in 1975. Burgess described his Sinfoni Melayu as an attempt to "combine the musical elements of the country into a synthetic language which called on native drums and xylophones." The structure of Napoleon Symphony: A Novel in Four Movements (1974) was modelled on Beethoven's Eroica symphony, while Mozart and the Wolf Gang (1991) mirrors the sound and rhythm of Mozartian composition, among other things attempting a fictional representation of Symphony No.40.
Burgess produced a translation of Meilhac and Halévy's libretto to Bizet's Carmen, which was performed by the English National Opera, and wrote for the 1973 Broadway musical Cyrano, using his own adaptation of the original Rostand play as his basis. He created Blooms of Dublin in 1982, an operetta based on James Joyce's Ulysses (televised for the BBC) and wrote a libretto for Weber's Oberon, performed by the Glasgow-based Scottish Opera.
In May 1988, Burgess made an extended appearance with, among others, Andrea Dworkin on the episode What Is Sex For? of discussion programme After Dark. He spoke at one point about divorce:
Burgess wrote: "I shall die somewhere in the Mediterranean lands, with an inaccurate obituary in the Nice-Matin, unmourned, soon forgotten." In fact, Burgess died in the country of his birth. He returned to Twickenham, an outer suburb of London, where he owned a house, to await death. Burgess died on 22 November 1993 from lung cancer, at the Hospital of St John & St Elizabeth in London. His ashes were inurned at the Monaco Cemetery.
The epitaph on Burgess's marble memorial stone, reads: "Abba Abba" which means "Father, father" in Aramaic, Arabic, Hebrew, and other Semitic languages and is pronounced by Christ during his agony in Gethsemane (Mark 14:36) as he prays God to spare him. It is also the title of Burgess's 22nd novel, concerning the death of John Keats. Eulogies at his memorial service at St Paul's, Covent Garden, London in 1994 were delivered by the journalist Auberon Waugh and the novelist William Boyd. The Times obituary heralded the author as "a great moralist". His estate was worth US$3 million, and included a large European property portfolio of houses and apartments.
Beginning in 1995, Anthony Burgess' widow gifted a large archive of his papers at the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin with several additions made in subsequent years. Comprising over 136 boxes, the archive includes typed and handwritten manuscripts, sheet music, correspondence, clippings, contracts and legal documents, appointment books, magazines, photographs, and personal effects. A substantial amount of unpublished and unproduced music compositions is included in the collection, along with a small number of audio recordings of Burgess' interviews and performances of his work. Over 90 books from Burgess' library can also be found in the Ransom Center's holdings. In 2014, the Ransom Center added the archive of Burgess' long-time agent Gabriele Pantucci, which also includes substantial manuscripts, sheet music, correspondence, and contracts. Burgess' archive at the Ransom Center is supplemented by significant archives of artists Burgess admired including James Joyce, Graham Greene, and D. H. Lawrence.
The depth of Burgess's multilingual proficiency came under discussion in Roger Lewis's 2002 biography. Lewis claimed that during production in Malaysia of the BBC documentary A Kind of Failure (1982), Burgess's supposedly fluent Malay was not understood by waitresses at a restaurant where they were filming. It was claimed that the documentary's director deliberately kept these moments intact in the film to expose Burgess's linguistic pretensions. A letter from David Wallace that appeared in the magazine of the London Independent on Sunday newspaper on 25 November 2002 shed light on the affair. Wallace's letter read, in part:
The largest archive of Anthony Burgess's belongings is housed at the International Anthony Burgess Foundation in Manchester, UK. The holdings include: handwritten journals and diaries; over 8000 books from Burgess's personal library; manuscripts of novels, journalism and musical compositions; professional and private photographs dating from between 1918 and 1993; an extensive archive of sound recordings; Burgess's music collection; furniture; musical instruments including two of Burgess's pianos; and correspondence that includes letters from Angela Carter, Graham Greene, Thomas Pynchon and other notable writers and publishers. The International Anthony Burgess Foundation was established by Burgess's widow, Liana, in 2003.
Although Burgess lived not far from Graham Greene, whose house was in Antibes, Greene became aggrieved shortly before his death by comments in newspaper articles by Burgess, and broke off all contact. Gore Vidal revealed in his 2006 memoir Point to Point Navigation that Greene disapproved of Burgess's appearance on various European television stations to discuss his (Burgess') books. Vidal recounts that Greene apparently regarded a willingness to appear on television as something that ought to be beneath a writer's dignity. "He talks about his books", Vidal quotes an exasperated Greene as saying.
Currently, Anthony Burgess is 105 years, 7 months and 7 days old. Anthony Burgess will celebrate 106th birthday on a Saturday 25th of February 2023.
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