Anthony Burgess

On this date on 1917, Anthony Burgess (né John Anthony Burgess Wilson) was born in Manchester, England. His mother and sister died in the 1918 flu pandemic. The author of 50 books, he is best known for his novel A Clockwork Orange (1962), which was made into a movie directed by Stanley Kubrick in 1971. Burgess was also a translator, critic, composer, librettist and screenwriter. He wrote at least 65 musical compositions and preferred to be called “a musician who writes novels.”

He was educated at a Catholic college and graduated from Manchester University in 1940. He joined the British Army Education Corps, which entertained troops in Europe, and was stationed in Gibraltar. Burgess later said a World War II sexual assault by four American deserters on his first wife, Llewela Isherwood Jones, partly inspired his examination of violence in A Clockwork Orange.

He taught after the war and was a distinguished professor at the City College of New York, 1972-73.  

“The ideal reader of my novels is a lapsed Catholic and failed musician, short-sighted, color-blind, auditorily biased, who has read the books that I have read,” he told The Paris Review in a 1973 interview.  According to his 1993 New York Times obituary, he also once said, “I don’t think there’s a heaven, but there’s certainly a hell. Everything we’ve experienced on earth seems to point toward the permanence of pain.”

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