Anthony Burgess

Ivor Griffiths, Poet, Novelist & Short Story Writer

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Anthony Burgess

The 2005 Cover of the Andrew Biswell biography (Picador)
Born: February 25, 1917
Harpurhey, Manchester Flag of United Kingdom
Died: November 22, 1993,
St John's Wood, London Flag of United Kingdom
Occupation: novelist, critic, composer, librettist, poet, pianist, playwright, screenwriter, journalist, essayist, travel writer, broadcaster, translator, linguist, educationalist
Nationality: British
Writing period: 1956-1993
Genres: Historical fiction, philosophical novel, satire, epic, spy fiction, horror, biography, literary criticism, travel literature, autobiography
Subjects: exile, colonialism, Islam, faith, lust, marriage, evil, alcoholism, homosexuality, linguistics, pornography
Literary movement: Modernism
Debut works: Time for a Tiger, The Enemy in the Blanket, Beds in the East
Influences: Homer, Pelagius, Dante, Lawrence, the English Bible, Shakespeare, Milton, Johnson, Hopkins, Conrad, Ford, Joyce, Freud, Orwell, Eliot, Lévi-Strauss, O'Brien
Influenced: Stanley Kubrick

Anthony Burgess (February 25, 1917 – November 22, 1993) was a British novelist, critic and composer. He was also active as a librettist, poet, pianist, playwright, screenwriter, journalist, essayist, travel writer, broadcaster, translator, linguist and educationalist.

Born in Harpurhey, Manchester in northwest England, he lived and worked variously in Southeast Asia, the United States and Mediterranean Europe.

Burgess's fiction includes the Malayan trilogy (The Long Day Wanes), on the dying days of Britain's empire in the East; the Enderby quartet of comic novels about a reclusive poet and his muse; Nothing Like the Sun, the classic speculative recreation of Shakespeare's love-life; the cult exploration of the nature of evil A Clockwork Orange; and his masterpiece, Earthly Powers, a panoramic saga of the 20th century.

He wrote critical studies of Joyce, Hemingway, Shakespeare and Lawrence, produced the treatises on linguistics Language Made Plain and A Mouthful of Air, and was a prolific journalist, writing in several languages.

He translated and adapted Cyrano de Bergerac, Oedipus the King, and Carmen for the stage; scripted Jesus of Nazareth and Moses the Lawgiver for the screen; invented the prehistoric language spoken in Quest for Fire; and composed the Sinfoni Melayu, the Symphony (No. 3) in C, and the opera Blooms of Dublin.


  • 1 Life
    • 1.1 Childhood
    • 1.2 Youth
    • 1.3 War service
    • 1.4 Early teaching career
    • 1.5 Malaya
    • 1.6 Borneo
    • 1.7 Repatriate years
    • 1.8 Tax exile
    • 1.9 Death
  • 2 Achievement
    • 2.1 Novels
    • 2.2 Criticism
    • 2.3 Linguistics
    • 2.4 Journalism
    • 2.5 Screenwriting
    • 2.6 Symphonies
    • 2.7 Opera and musicals
  • 3 Work methods
  • 4 Controversies
    • 4.1 Espionage
    • 4.2 Censorship
    • 4.3 Mischief
    • 4.4 Linguistic gifts
  • 5 Habits
    • 5.1 Smoking
    • 5.2 Sex
    • 5.3 Drink
    • 5.4 Health
    • 5.5 Finances
    • 5.6 Transportation
    • 5.7 Food
    • 5.8 Pets
  • 6 Islam
  • 7 Places of residence
  • 8 Pop-culture influence
  • 9 Early triumphs
  • 10 Honours
  • 11 Names
  • 12 Birthplace
  • 13 General
  • 14 Works
    • 14.1 Novels
    • 14.2 Poetry
    • 14.3 Theatre
    • 14.4 Short stories
    • 14.5 For children
    • 14.6 Autobiography
    • 14.7 Collections of journalism
    • 14.8 Biographies
    • 14.9 Studies of linguistics
    • 14.10 Books on music
    • 14.11 Joyce studies
    • 14.12 Works on literature
    • 14.13 Other non-fiction
    • 14.14 Editor
    • 14.15 Translations
    • 14.16 Selected musical compositions
    • 14.17 Prefaces, etc.
  • 15 Further reading
    • 15.1 Biographies
    • 15.2 Selected studies
    • 15.3 Memoirs
    • 15.4 Selected media profiles
    • 15.5 Collections
  • 16 References
  • 17 External links



Burgess was born John Burgess Wilson on February 25, 1917 in Harpurhey, a northeastern suburb of Manchester, to a Catholic father and a Catholic convert mother. He was known in childhood as Jack. Later, on his confirmation, the name Anthony was added and he became John Anthony Burgess Wilson. It was not until 1956 that he was to begin using the pen-name Anthony Burgess.

His mother, Elizabeth Burgess Wilson, died when Burgess was one year old, a casualty of the 1918–1919 Spanish flu pandemic, which also took the life of his sister Muriel. Elizabeth, who is buried in a Protestant cemetery in Manchester (the City of Manchester General Cemetery, Rochdale Road), had been a minor actress and dancer who appeared at Manchester music halls such as the Ardwick Empire and the Gentlemen's Concert Rooms. Her stage name, according to Burgess, was "The Beautiful Belle Burgess", but there has never been any independent verification of this — no playbills have yet been discovered that include the name. His grandmother, Mary-Ann Finnegan, is thought to have come from Tipperary.

Burgess described his father, Joseph Wilson, as descended from an "Augustinian Catholic" background. Burgess's father had a variety of means of earning a living, working at different times as an army corporal, a bookmaker, a pub piano-player, a pianist in movie theaters accompanying silent films, an encyclopedia salesman, a butcher, a cashier and a tobacconist. Burgess described his father, who later remarried a pub landlady, as "a mostly absent drunk who called himself a father". The adjective he used to describe the relationship he had with his father was "lukewarm". Burgess's grandfather was half-Irish.

Burgess was raised by his maternal aunt, and later by his stepmother, whom he detested (he was to include a slatternly caricature of her in the Enderby quartet of novels). His childhood was in large part a solitary one, during which he felt "perpetually angry" and resentful, but he taught himself to play the piano and violin, and learned to read music. He lived in Dickensian circumstances, his home being shabby rooms above an off-licence and newsagent's-tobacconist's shop that his aunt ran, and above a pub.


Manchester University, where Burgess was a student of literature from 1937 to 1940
Manchester University, where Burgess was a student of literature from 1937 to 1940

Burgess was to a large degree an autodidact but was nevertheless fortunate, in view of the straitened circumstances in which he grew up, to receive a formal education of a high standard.

He first attended St. Edmund's Roman Catholic Elementary School and moved on to Bishop Bilsborrow Memorial Roman Catholic Primary School in Moss Side. For some years his family lived on Princess Street in the same district.

Good grades from Bishop Bilsborrow resulted in a place at the noted Manchester Catholic secondary school Xaverian College, run by the Xaverian Brothers along religious lines. It was during his teenage years at this school that he lapsed formally from Catholicism, although he cannot be said to have broken completely with the church. His history teacher at Xaverian College, L.W. Dever, is credited with introducing Burgess to James Joyce's writings.

Burgess entered the Victoria University of Manchester in 1937, graduating three years later with the degree of Bachelor of Arts (2nd class honours, upper division) in English language and literature. His thesis was on the subject of Marlowe's Doctor Faustus.

Burgess wrote that as a child he did not care at all about music. One day he heard on his home-built radio "a quite incredible flute solo, sinuous, exotic, erotic" and became spellbound. Eight minutes later the announcer told him he had been listening to Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune (Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun) by Claude Debussy. He refers to this as a "psychedelic moment... a recognition of verbally inexpressible spiritual realities". Suddenly music was very important to him. He eventually came to hold the opinion that music before the time of Wagner was orchestrally naive - it had little appeal to him.

He announced to his family that he wanted to be a composer ("like Debussy" he said), but they were against it because "there was no money in it."[1] Music was not taught at his school so at about age 14 he strove to become a self-taught pianist, and in his spare time he would eventually turn himself into a composer[2].

Burgess's father died of flu in 1938 and his stepmother of a heart attack in 1940.

War service

Photo by Helmut Newton on the cover of the 2002 Roger Lewis biography (Faber and Faber)
Photo by Helmut Newton on the cover of the 2002 Roger Lewis biography (Faber and Faber)

In 1940 Burgess began a rather unheroic wartime stint with the military, beginning with the Royal Army Medical Corps, which included a period at a field ambulance station at Morpeth, Northumberland. During this period he sometimes directed an army dance band.

He later moved to the Army Educational Corps, where among other things he conducted speech therapy at a mental hospital. He failed in his aspiration to win an officer's commission.

In 1942 the marriage took place in Bournemouth between Burgess and a Welshwoman named Llewela Jones, eldest daughter of a high-school headmaster. She was known to all as "Lynne". Although Burgess indicated on numerous occasions that her full name was Llewela Isherwood Jones, the name "Isherwood" does not appear on her birth certificate, and this appears to have been a fabrication. Nor was Lynne related to the writer Christopher Isherwood as many people had believed. Lynne and Burgess were fellow students at the University of Manchester. Their marriage was childless, and, to put it mildly, explosive and tempestuous.

"I really do think, allowing for everything, Lynne was one of the most awful women I've ever met", one friend of the Burgesses once declared. But as Burgess's biographers have pointed out, Lynne provided much unacknowledged help to Burgess as he sought to establish himself as a writer - both financial and as his muse. Lynne died of cirrhosis in 1968.

Gibraltar. Burgess, then known as Sergeant-Major John Wilson, was stationed here in 1943-45
Gibraltar. Burgess, then known as Sergeant-Major John Wilson, was stationed here in 1943-45

Burgess was next stationed in Gibraltar at an army garrison (see A Vision of Battlements). Here he was a training college lecturer in speech and drama, teaching German, Russian, French and Spanish. An important role for Burgess was the help he gave in taking the troops through "The British Way and Purpose" programme, which was designed to reintroduce them to the peacetime socialism of the post-war years in Britain and gently inculcate a sense of patriotism. He was also an instructor for the Central Advisory Council for Forces Education of the Ministry of Education.

On one occasion in the neighbouring Spanish town of La Línea de la Concepción, Burgess was arrested for insulting General Franco. It is not known if he spent a night in the cells, but he was released from custody shortly after the incident.

Burgess's flair for languages was noticed by army intelligence, and he took part in debriefings of Free Dutch and Free French who found refuge in Gibraltar during the war.

Early teaching career

Burgess left the army with the rank of sergeant-major in 1946, 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 (known as "the Brigg" and associated with the University of Birmingham), which was situated near Preston.

At the end of 1950 he took a job as a secondary school teacher of English literature on the staff of Banbury Grammar School (now defunct) in the market town of Banbury, Oxfordshire (see The Worm and the Ring, which the then mayoress of Banbury claimed libelled her). In addition to his teaching duties Burgess was required to supervise sports from time to time, and he ran the school's drama society.

The years were to be looked back on as some of the happiest of Burgess's life. Thanks to financial assistance provided by Lynne's father, the couple was able to put a downpayment on a cottage in the picturesque village of Adderbury, not far from Banbury.

Burgess 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 (Burgess had named his Adderbury cottage Little Gidding, after one of Eliot's Four Quartets) and Aldous Huxley's The Gioconda Smile.

It was in Adderbury that Burgess cut his journalistic teeth, with several of his contributions published in the local newspaper the Banbury Guardian.

The would-be writer was a habitué of the pubs of the village, especially The Bell and The Red Lion, where his predilection for consuming large quantities of cider was noted at the time. Both he and his wife are believed to have been barred from one or more of the Adderbury pubs because of their riotous behaviour.


The Malay College in Kuala Kangsar, Perak, where Burgess taught in 1954-55, an experience that formed the basis of the novel Time for a Tiger
The Malay College in Kuala Kangsar, Perak, where Burgess taught in 1954-55, an experience that formed the basis of the novel Time for a Tiger

At the end of 1953 Burgess applied for a teaching post on the island of Sark, but did not get the job. However, in January 1954 he was interviewed by the Colonial Office for a post in Malaya (now Malaysia) as a teacher and education officer in the British colonial service. He was offered the job and accepted with alacrity, being keen to explore Eastern lands. Several months later he and his wife travelled to Singapore by the liner Willem Ruys from Southampton with stops in Port Said and Colombo.

Burgess was stationed initially in Kuala Kangsar, the royal town in Perak, in what were then known as the Federated Malay States. Here he taught at the Malay College, dubbed "the Eton of the East" and now known as Malay College Kuala Kangsar (MCKK).

In addition to his teaching duties at this school for the sons of leading Malayans, he had responsibilities as a housemaster in charge of students of the preparatory school, who were housed at a Victorian mansion known as "King's Pavilion". The building had once been occupied by the British Resident in Perak. It had also gained notoriety during World War II as a place of torture, being the local headquarters of the Kempeitai (Japanese secret police).

As his novels and autobiography document, Burgess's late 1950s coincided with the communist insurgency, an undeclared war known as the Malayan Emergency (1948-1960) when rubber planters and members of the European community – not to mention many Malays, Chinese and Tamils – were subject to frequent terrorist attacks.

Kota Bharu, Kelantan. Burgess was an education officer at the Malay Teachers' Training College here between 1955 and 1958
Kota Bharu, Kelantan. Burgess was an education officer at the Malay Teachers' Training College here between 1955 and 1958

Burgess and his wife had a reputation in Malaya for bolshiness. And so, in the aftermath of, but not necessarily consequent upon, an alleged dispute with the Malay College's principal, J.D.R. Powell, about accommodation for himself and his wife, Burgess was posted elsewhere. The couple occupied an apparently rather noisy apartment in the building mentioned above, where privacy was supposedly minimal, and this caused resentment. This was the professed reason for his transfer to the Malay Teachers' Training College at Kota Bharu, Kelantan. Kota Bharu is situated on the Siamese border (the Thais had ceded the area to the British in 1909 and a British adviser had been installed).

Burgess attained fluency in Malay, spoken and written, achieving distinction in the examinations in the language set by the colonial office. He was rewarded with a salary increment for his proficiency in the language. Malay was still at that time rendered in the adapted Arabic script known as Jawi.

He devoted some of his free time in Malaya to creative writing — "as a sort of gentlemanly hobby, because I knew there wasn't any money in it" — and published his first novels, Time for a Tiger, The Enemy in the Blanket and Beds in the East. These became known as The Malayan Trilogy and were later to be published in one volume as The Long Day Wanes. During his time in the East he also wrote English Literature: A Survey for Students, and this book was in fact the first Burgess work published (if we do not count an essay published in the youth section of the London Daily Express when he was a child).


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, a sultanate on the northern coast of the island of Borneo. 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. Although it dealt with Brunei, for libel reasons the action had to be transposed to an imaginary East African territory the like of Zanzibar.

The Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque in Bandar Seri Begawan. Burgess was a teacher at the Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin College in 1958-59, and the mosque forms the centrepiece of his Brunei novel Devil of a State
The Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque in Bandar Seri Begawan. Burgess was a teacher at the Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin College in 1958-59, and the mosque forms the centrepiece of his Brunei novel Devil of a State

About this time Burgess "collapsed" in a Brunei classroom while teaching history. He was expounding on the causes and consequences of the Boston Tea Party at the time. There were reports that he had been diagnosed as having an inoperable brain tumour, with the likelihood of only surviving a short time, occasioning the alleged breakdown. Burgess has claimed that he was given just a year to live by the physicians, prompting him to write several novels to get money to provide for his widow. This is inaccurate, and has been explained by Burgess's biographers by reference to his (mild and mischievous) mythomania. There was no tumour, nor was a tumour ever diagnosed.

He was, however, suffering from the effects of prolonged heavy drinking (and associated poor nutrition), of the often oppressive Southeast Asian climate, of chronic constipation, and of overwork and professional disappointment. As he put it, the scions of the sultans and of the elite in Brunei "did not wish to be taught", because the free-flowing abundance of oil guaranteed their income and privileged status. He may also have wished for a pretext to abandon teaching and get going full-time as a writer, having made a late start.

Describing the Brunei debacle to an interviewer over twenty years later, Burgess commented: "One day in the classroom I decided that I'd had enough and to let others take over. I just lay down on the floor out of interest to see what would happen." On another occasion he described it as "a willed collapse out of sheer boredom and frustration". But he gave a different account to the British arts and media veteran Jeremy Isaacs in 1987 when he said: "I was driven out of the Colonial Service for political reasons that were disguised as clinical reasons."

Repatriate years

Burgess was repatriated 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, as far as can be made out, proved negative.

On his discharge, benefiting from a sum of money Lynne had inherited from her father together with their savings built up over six years in the East, he decided he had the financial independence to become a full-time writer.

The couple lived first in an apartment in the town of Hove, near Brighton, on the Sussex coast (see the Enderby quartet of novels).

They then moved to a semi-detached house called "Applegarth" in the inland Sussex village of Etchingham. This is about a mile from the Jacobean house in Burwash where Rudyard Kipling lived, and also one mile from the Robertsbridge home of Malcolm Muggeridge.

Finally, when Lynne came into some money as a result of the death of her father, the Burgesses decamped to a terraced town house in the Turnham Green section of Chiswick, a western inner suburb of London. This was conveniently located for the White City BBC television studios of which he was a frequent guest in this period.

During these years Burgess became, if not quite a close personal friend of, then a regular drinking partner of, the novelist William S. Burroughs. Their meetings took place in London and Tangiers.

A cruise holiday Burgess and his wife took to the USSR, calling at St Petersburg (then still called Leningrad), resulted in Honey for the Bears and inspired some of the invented slang "Nadsat" used in A Clockwork Orange.

Tax exile

Five weeks after Lynne's death in 1968 at the age of forty-seven of liver cirrhosis (see Beard's Roman Women), Burgess remarried, at Hounslow register office, to Liliana Macellari ("Liana"), an Italian translator. They had begun an adulterous affair in London several years before Lynne's death.

By the end of the 1960s he had quit England and become a tax exile. He occupied grander accommodation this time (at his death he was a multi-millionaire and left a Europe-wide property portfolio of houses and apartments numbering in the double figures).

Malta, where Burgess encountered problems with the state censor. After he left the island his house was confiscated for tax evasion
Malta, where Burgess encountered problems with the state censor. After he left the island his house was confiscated for tax evasion

His first place of residence after leaving England was Lija, Malta (1968-1970), where he bought a house. Problems with the Maltese state censor later prompted a move to Rome. He maintained a flat in the Italian capital, a country house in Bracciano, and a property in Montalbuccio. There was a villa in Provence, in Callian of the Var, France, and an apartment just off Baker Street, London, very near the presumed home of Sherlock Holmes in the Arthur Conan Doyle stories.

Burgess lived for two years in the United States, working as a visiting professor at Princeton University (1970), where he helped teach the creative writing program, 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. He was also a 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.

Monaco. Burgess was based here from 1976
Monaco. Burgess was based here from 1976

Eventually he settled in Monaco, 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.

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's) books. Vidal recounts that Greene apparently regarded a willingness to appear on TV as something that ought to be beneath a writer's dignity. "He talks about his books", Vidal quotes an exasperated Greene as saying.

Burgess spent much time also at one of his houses, a chalet two kilometres outside Lugano, Switzerland.

Describing himself as "a belated father", Burgess adopted as his stepson Liana's son from a previous relationship. An attempt to kidnap the boy, called Paolo-Andrea, in Rome is believed to have been one of the factors deciding the family's move to Monaco.


Burgess once wrote: "I shall die somewhere in the Mediterranean lands, with an inaccurate obituary in the Nice-Matin, unmourned, soon forgotten." In fact he was to die in the country of his birth. He returned to Twickenham, an outer suburb of London, where he owned a house, to await death. He died on November 22, 1993. He was 76 years old. His actual death (of lung cancer) occurred at the Hospital of St John and St Elizabeth in the St John's Wood neighbourhood of London. He is thought to have composed the novel Byrne on his deathbed.

It is believed he would have liked his ashes to be kept in Moston Cemetery in Manchester, but they instead went to the cemetery in Monte Carlo.

The epitaph on Burgess's marble memorial stone, behind which the vessel with his remains is kept, reads "Abba Abba", being

  • the Aramaic for "Father, father", that is, an invocation to God as Father (Mark 14:36 etc.)
  • Burgess's initials forwards and backwards
  • part of the rhyme scheme for the Petrarchan sonnet
  • the last words Jesus uttered, in Aramaic, from the Cross
  • the Burgess novel about the death of Keats, Abba Abba
  • the abba rhyme scheme that Tennyson used for his poem on death, In Memoriam

Burgess's stepson Paolo-Andrea survived him by less than a decade, committing suicide at the age of 37 in 2002.

Burgess had delivered the eulogy at the memorial service for Benny Hill in 1992; the eulogies at his own memorial service at St Paul's Church, Covent Garden, London in 1994 were delivered by the journalist Auberon Waugh and the novelist William Boyd.



His Malayan trilogy The Long Day Wanes — the three books are Time for a Tiger, The Enemy in the Blanket and Beds in the East — was Burgess's first published venture into the art of fiction.

It was Burgess's ambition to become "the true fictional expert on Malaya", and with the trilogy, he certainly staked a claim to have written the definitive Malayan novel (i.e. novel of expatriate experience of Malaya).

The trilogy joined a family of such Eastern fictional explorations, among them Orwell's treatment of Burma (Burmese Days), Forster's of India (A Passage to India) and Greene's of Vietnam (The Quiet American). Burgess was working in the tradition established by Kipling for British India and, for the Southeast Asian experience, Conrad and Maugham.

Unlike Conrad, Maugham and Greene, who made no effort to learn local languages, but like Orwell (who had a good command of Urdu and Burmese, necessary for his work as a police officer) and Kipling (who spoke Hindi, having learnt it as a child), Burgess had excellent spoken and written Malay. This linguistic command results in an impressive authenticity and sensitive understanding of indigenous concerns in the trilogy.

Burgess's repatriate years (c. 1960-69) produced not just Enderby but the neglected The Right to an Answer, which touches on the theme of death and dying, and One Hand Clapping, partly a satire on the vacuity of popular culture. This period also witnessed the publication of The Worm and the Ring, which was withdrawn from circulation under the threat of libel action from one of Burgess's former colleagues.

A product of these highly fertile years was his best-known work (or most notorious, after Stanley Kubrick made a motion picture adaptation), the dystopian tour de force A Clockwork Orange (1962). Inspired initially by an incident during World War II in which his wife Lynne was allegedly robbed and assaulted in London during the blackout by deserters from the U.S. Army (an event that may have contributed to a miscarriage she suffered), the book was an examination of free will and morality. The young anti-hero, Alex, captured after a career of violence and mayhem, is given aversion conditioning to stop his violence. It makes him defenceless against other people and unable to enjoy the music (especially Beethoven, and more specifically the Ninth Symphony) that, besides violence, had been an intense pleasure for him.

Burgess followed this with Nothing Like the Sun, a fictional recreation of Shakespeare's love-life and an examination of the (partly syphilitic, it was implied) sources of the bard's imaginative vision. The novel, which made some use of Edgar I. Fripp's 1938 biography Shakespeare, Man and Artist, won critical acclaim and placed Burgess in the front rank of novelists of his generation.

By the 1970s his output had become highly experimental, and some see a falling-off in the quality of his work in the period between the release of the Clockwork Orange movie, which brought Burgess fame, and the end of the decade.

Indeed, Burgess has been considered by some critics to be uneven in the quality of his output, and he has been faulted for what has been called a "novelettish kind of dialogue".

The bold and extraordinarily complex M/F (1971) showed the influence of Claude Lévi-Strauss and the structuralists, and was later listed by the writer himself as one of the works of which he was most proud. Beard's Roman Women is considered by some to be his least successful novel (plea of mitigation: it was written entirely while on the road in his Bedford Dormobile campervan). Burgess has frequently been criticised for writing too many novels and too quickly. All the same, Beard was revealing on a personal level, dealing with the death of his first wife, his bereavement, and the affair that led to his second marriage.

In another ambitious and unashamedly modernist fictional expedition, Napoleon Symphony, Burgess brought Bonaparte to life by shaping the novel's structure on Beethoven's Eroica symphony. This daring fictional experiment contains among many other assets a superb portrait of an Arab and Muslim society under occupation by a Christian western power (Egypt by Catholic France). The novel showed that while Burgess always regarded himself as little more than a student and epigone of Joyce, he was able at times to equal the master of modernism in literary sophistication and range.

There was a triumphant return to form in the 1980s, when religious themes began to weigh heavily (see The Kingdom of the Wicked and Man of Nazareth as well as Earthly Powers). Though Burgess lapsed from Catholicism early in his youth, the influence of the Catholic "training" and worldview remained strong in his work all his life. This is notable in the discussion of free will in A Clockwork Orange, and in the apocalyptic vision of devastating changes in the Catholic Church – due to what can be understood as Satanic influence – in Earthly Powers (1980). That work was written in the first instance as a parody of the blockbuster novel.

He kept working through his final illness, and was writing on his deathbed. A late novel was Any Old Iron, a generational saga about two families, one Russian-Welsh, the other Jewish. It encompasses the sinking of the Titanic, World War I, the Russian Revolution, the Spanish Civil War, World War II, and the early years of the State of Israel, as well as the imagined rediscovery of King Arthur's Excalibur.

A Dead Man in Deptford, about Christopher Marlowe, is a kind of companion volume to his Shakespeare novel Nothing Like the Sun. The verse novel Byrne was published posthumously.


Burgess began his career as a critic with a well regarded text designed originally for use outside English-speaking countries. Aimed at newcomers to the subject, English Literature, A Survey for Students is still used in many schools today. He followed this with The Novel To-day and The Novel Now: A Student's Guide to Contemporary Fiction.

Then came the Joyce studies Here Comes Everybody: An Introduction to James Joyce for the Ordinary Reader (also published as Re Joyce) and Joysprick: An Introduction to the Language of James Joyce. Also published was A Shorter 'Finnegans Wake', Burgess's abridgement.

His 1970 Encyclopædia Britannica entry on the novel (under "Novel, the") is regarded as a classic of the genre.

Burgess wrote full-length critical studies of William Shakespeare, Ernest Hemingway and D.H. Lawrence. His Ninety-Nine Novels: The Best in English since 1939 remains an invaluable guide, while the published lecture Obscenity and the Arts explores issues of pornography.


The polyglot Burgess had command of Malay, Russian, French, German, Spanish, Italian and Welsh in addition to his native English, as well as of some Hebrew, Japanese, Chinese, Swedish and Persian.

"Burgess's linguistic training", write Raymond Chapman and Tom McArthur in The Oxford Companion to the English Language, "is shown in dialogue enriched by distinctive pronunciations and the niceties of register."

His interest in linguistics was reflected in the Anglo-Russian invented teen slang of A Clockwork Orange (called Nadsat), and in the movie Quest for Fire (1981), for which he invented a prehistoric language (Ulam) for the characters to speak.

The hero of The Doctor is Sick, Dr. Edwin Spindrift, is a lecturer in linguistics. He escapes from a hospital ward which is peopled, as the critic Saul Maloff put it in a review, with "brain cases who happily exemplify varieties of English speech".

Burgess, who had lectured on phonetics at the University of Birmingham in the late 1940s, investigates the field of linguistics in Language Made Plain and A Mouthful of Air.


Burgess produced journalism in British, Italian, French and American newspapers and magazines regularly – even compulsively – and in prodigious quantities. Martin Amis quipped in The Observer (London) in 1987: "...on top of writing regularly for every known newspaper and magazine, Anthony Burgess writes regularly for every unknown one, too. Pick up a Hungarian quarterly or a Portuguese tabloid – and there is a Burgess, discoursing on goulash or test-driving the new Fiat 500."

"He was our star reviewer, always eager to take on something new, punctilious with deadlines, length and copy", wrote Burgess's literary editor at The Observer, Michael Ratcliffe.

Selections of Burgess's journalism are to be found in Urgent Copy, Homage to QWERT YUIOP and One Man's Chorus.


Burgess wrote the screenplays for Moses the Lawgiver (Gianfranco De Bosio 1975, with Burt Lancaster, Anthony Quayle and Ingrid Thulin), Jesus of Nazareth (Franco Zeffirelli 1977, with Robert Powell, Olivia Hussey and Rod Steiger), and A.D. (Stuart Cooper 1985, with Ava Gardner, Anthony Andrews and James Mason).

He devised the Stone Age language for La Guerre du Feu (Quest for Fire) (Jean-Jacques Annaud 1981, with Everett McGill, Ron Perlman and Nicholas Kadi).

Burgess was co-writer of the script for the TV series Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson (1980).

He penned many unpublished scripts, including one about Shakespeare which was to be called Will! or The Bawdy Bard. It was based on his novel Nothing Like The Sun.

Among the motion picture treatments he produced are Amundsen, Attila, The Black Prince, Cyrus the Great, Dawn Chorus, The Dirty Tricks of Bertoldo, Eternal Life, Onassis, Puma, Samson and Delila, Schreber, The Sexual Habits of the English Middle Class, Shah, That Man Freud and Uncle Ludwig.

Encouraged by his novel Tremor of Intent (a parody of James Bond adventures), Burgess wrote a screenplay for The Spy Who Loved Me. It was rejected. Burgess's plot featured Bond's identical twin 008 and revolved around an organisation called CHAOS (Consortium for the Hastening of the Annihilation of Organised Society). CHAOS has accumulated enough money to achieve its plans and is now concentrating on power for its own sake. It blackmails international figures into humiliating themselves by terrorism. During Burgess's proposed opening sequence, an airliner full of passengers is exploded as it takes off, CHAOS's response to the Pope's refusal to personally whitewash the Sistine Chapel. Bond discovers a plot to implant 'micro-nukes' in appendectomy patients, the aim being to blow up Sydney Opera House during a visit by international royals and presidents (this atrocity being in response to the US President's refusal to masturbate on live TV). In You've Had Your Time, Burgess commented that the only idea that survived from his screenplay was that the villains' hideout was a ship disguised as an oil tanker.


As Burgess put it, in the way that others might enjoy yachting or golf, "I write music." He was an accomplished musician and composed regularly throughout his life. His works are infrequently performed today, but 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. Many of his unpublished compositions are listed in This Man and Music.

Sinfoni Melayu, characterised by the Burgess biographer Roger Lewis as "Elgar with bongo-bong drums", was described by Burgess, its composer, 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. Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 features prominently in A Clockwork Orange (and also in Stanley Kubrick's film version of the novel).

Burgess made plain his low regard for the popular music that has emerged since the mid-1960s, yet he has been called "the godfather of punk" as a result of the nihilist future world he created in A Clockwork Orange.

When Burgess was heard on the BBC's Desert Island Discs radio programmme in 1966, he made the following choice: Purcell, Rejoice in the Lord Alway; Bach, Goldberg Variations No. 13; Elgar, Symphony No. 1 in A flat major; Wagner, Walter's Trial Song from Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg; Debussy, Fêtes; Lambert, The Rio Grande; Walton, Symphony No. 1 in B flat; and Vaughan Williams, On Wenlock Edge.

Opera and musicals

Burgess produced a translation of Bizet's Carmen which was performed by the English National Opera.

He created an operetta based on James Joyce's Ulysses called Blooms of Dublin (composed in 1982 and performed on the BBC), and wrote the book for the 1973 Broadway musical Cyrano, using his own adaptation of the Rostand play as its basis.

His new libretto for Weber's Oberon was performed by the Edinburgh-based Scottish Opera.

Work methods

"I start at the beginning, go to the end, then stop", Burgess once said.

He revealed in Martin Seymour-Smith's Novels and Novelists: A Guide to the World of Fiction (1980) that he would often prepare a synopsis with a name-list before beginning a project. But Seymour-Smith wrote: "Burgess believes overplanning is fatal to creativity and regards his unconscious mind and the act of writing itself as indispensable guides. He does not produce a draft of a whole novel which he then revises, but prefers to get one page finished before he goes on to the next, which involves a good deal of revision and correction."

His output from when he began writing professionally in his early forties until his death was to produce, at a minimum, 1,000 words of fair copy per day, weekends included, 365 days a year. His favoured time for working was the afternoon, since "the unconscious mind has a habit of asserting itself in the afternoon".



  • Burgess had a long-term grievance about being confused with two members of the Cambridge Five: one of the five was Guy Burgess and another Anthony Blunt. Unfortunately, by the time they achieved notoriety, Anthony Burgess's pen-name was well established. He succeeded in extracting an apology from the Paris-based International Herald Tribune in 1983 after the newspaper referred to him in print as "The spy, Anthony Burgess". The Sunday Times newspaper perpetrated a similar error in 1999, referring to "the other British defectors, Anthony Burgess, Donald Maclean and George Blake".
  • Burgess is believed by some, though this is highly conjectural, to have engaged in low-level espionage during his Gibraltar, Malaya and Brunei years and possibly later. See, for example, the London Mail on Sunday, "The greatest story Anthony Burgess never told: his life as a secret agent"; and many other media articles in this not very authoritative but intriguing vein. It is speculated that he may have provided his superiors (the Colonial Office and perhaps the Kuala Lumpur-based British intelligence authorities, and later MI6) with information about any communist actions or sympathies, however trivial, among his colleagues and students and, after his return from the East, among the people he met and associated with. Since lives were at stake during the Malayan Emergency, this would not have been an unusual or exceptionable activity – in fact it might well have been regarded as irresponsible not to assist in this way. The term used for an operative of this type and pay-grade was "ground observer", and he would have been providing his information to MI6's East Asian operation through Singapore. His biographer Roger Lewis claimed that while at the Malayan Teachers' Training College in Kota Bharu, Burgess "was part of a secret plan, in 1955, for the chief ministers of Malaya and Singapore to meet the leader of the outlawed Malayan Communist Party in a jungle clearing".
  • Military authorities who came across a copy of Joyce's Finnegans Wake in Burgess's possession in 1941 thought it was some kind of code book.
  • Burgess published a fictional work in the Ian Fleming genre which he entitled Tremor of Intent: An Eschatological Spy Novel (1966).
  • He wrote the preface to the Bond novels under the Coronet imprint.
  • Burgess prepared a screenplay for the James Bond feature The Spy Who Loved Me, which Albert R. Broccoli produced in 1977. It was turned down. Burgess wrote: "My script...was rejected, but my oil tanker (a camouflaged floating palace for the chief villain) was retained."
  • Burgess's biographer Roger Lewis claimed that when he returned from his Burgess research trip to Malaysia in 1999, he met an ex-spy who "told me that Burgess had had dealings with the CIA and that the mind control experiments in A Clockwork Orange, which was written in 1961, were not the novelist's invention....I was told to look closely at what was written on the college pennants that the novel's main character, Alex, had on his bedroom wall: South 4; Metro cor-skol blue division; the boys of alpha. This, I was told, was an encryption. The words could be decoded to give the map reference to Fort Bliss, Texas, where experiments on interfering with the alpha wavelengths of the human brain were being conducted. The word bliss, moreover, appears on this same page six times".
  • When he asked the CIA if it would be in a position to release its files on John Wilson (Anthony Burgess), Lewis received this response: "We must neither confirm nor deny the existence or nonexistence of any records. It has been determined that such information would be classified for reasons of national security under sections 1.5(c) (intelligence sources and methods) and 1.5(d) (foreign relations) of Executive Order 12958."


  • Burgess's Malayan Trilogy appears to have been banned in Malaysia. The Sun newspaper reported on 5 December 2006 that the country’s internal security ministry was barring books deemed "offensive" to Malaysian society. A number of titles were being denied entry by road at Johor Baru, among them The Long Day Wanes. The secretary of the publications and Quranic texts control division at the ministry, Che Din Yusoh, was reported as saying that the minister enjoyed "absolute discretion" to gazette "undesirable publications", i.e. those banned under the Printing Presses and Publications Act, section 7. One of several passages that may have offended the Malaysian authorities is to be found in the second volume of the trilogy, The Enemy in the Blanket. The character Hardman, a hard-up albino British lawyer who has married a wealthy Malay woman for her money – and had to convert to Islam in order to do so – becomes disillusioned with the religion and muses on the Koran as follows: "I wonder how, with such a repetitive farrago of platitudes, expressing so self-evident a theology and an ethic so puerile, Islam can have spread as it has."


  • Burgess was dismissed as literary critic for the English provincial newspaper the Yorkshire Post after he wrote a review of his own Inside Mr. Enderby and it appeared in the newspaper. The novel had been published under the pseudonym Joseph Kell, and the newspaper's editor did not know that Kell was Burgess. Burgess protested, to no avail, that Walter Scott had also once reviewed one of his own novels. The offending review, which was not at all commendatory, read in part: "This is, in many ways, a dirty book. It is full of bowel-blasts and flatulent borborygms, emetic meals...and halitosis. It may well make some people sick....It turns sex, religion, the State into a series of laughing-stocks. The book itself is a laughing-stock."
  • When Burgess applied for the job of schoolteacher at Banbury Grammar school in 1950, he claimed in his résumé to be the co-author, with "Dr. H.P. Bridges", of a soon-to-be-published work entitled Engelsk Grammatik. This was a complete fabrication.
  • London's Daily Mail newspaper published in the 1960s a number of comically puritanical letters written by Burgess purporting to be from an Indian Muslim named "Mohammed Ali", who expressed for the benefit of Mail readers his utter disgust at the degradation of contemporary western morals.
  • In the novel The Enemy in the Blanket, Burgess calls the state's main town Kenching, which is "urine" in Malay, while another place is named Tahi Panas ("steaming excrement").
  • Burgess was dismissed from a job he held for a short time as a pub pianist after he insisted on playing, in its entirety, the Jupiter part of Holst's The Planets.
  • James Joyce's Ulysses was banned in Britain when Burgess was a teenager. When he was 15 he travelled to France to procure a copy, which he smuggled back into England "cut up into sections and distributed all over my body".

Linguistic gifts

  • 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, supposedly fluent in Malay, was unable to communicate with several waitresses at a restaurant where they were filming. It was claimed also that the documentary's director deliberately kept these moments intact in the film in order to expose Burgess's linguistic pretensions. There was a mixed response to the charge. For example, one critic appeared to accept the veracity of the claim, saying it "had me laughing immoderately", while another dismissed it as "another of Lewis's little smears". 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 tale was inaccurate. It tells of Burgess, the great linguist, 'bellowing Malay at a succession of Malayan waitresses' but 'unable to make himself understood'. The source of this tale was a 20-year-old BBC documentary....[The suggestion was] that the director left the scene in, in order to poke fun at the great author. Not so, and I can be sure, as I was that director…. The story as seen on television made it clear that Burgess knew that these waitresses were not Malay. It was a Chinese restaurant and Burgess's point was that the ethnic Chinese had little time for the government-enforced national language, Bahasa Malaysia [i.e. Malay]. Burgess may well have had an accent, but he did speak the language; it was the girls in question who did not." Lewis may not have been fully aware of the fact that a quarter of Malaysia's population is made up of Hokkien- and Cantonese-speaking Chinese. However, Malay had been installed as the National Language with the installation of the Language Act of 1967. By 1982 all national primary and secondary schools in Malaysia would have been teaching with Bahasa Melayu as a base language (see Harold Crouch, Government and Society in Malaysia, Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 1996).
  • During his years in Malaya, and after he had mastered Jawi, the Arabic script adapted for Malay, Burgess taught himself the Persian language, after which he produced a translation of Eliot's The Waste Land into Persian. It was never published, in Tehran or elsewhere. He also worked on an anthology of the best of English literature translated into Malay, which also failed to achieve publication.
  • Anthony Burgess, known in Argentina as the British Borges, and Jorge Luis Borges, known in Britain as the Argentine Burgess, each spoke both English and Spanish fluently. But when Burgess and Borges met, each decided it would be unequal and unfair to the other, and inappropriate, to plump for either of the two languages when conversing. So the polyglot pair forged a compromise, deciding to conduct their lengthy, wide-ranging philological and literary conversations in Old Norse. (However, this may be apocryphal: another account has them merely reciting a poem in Old English together.)



  • Burgess smoked, by his own admission, up to 80 cigarettes, panatelas, cigars, cigarillos and/or cheroots per day. Virtually all photographs and drawings of Burgess after about 1970 show him with cigarillo or cigarette in hand or mouth.
  • He described his tobacco smoking habit as "a patriotic duty to the Exchequer" (tax accounted during Burgess's life, as it does now, for over 80% of the price of a pack of cigarettes in the UK).
  • Burgess's preferred cigar was the Schimmelpenninck Duet.
  • High nicotine ingestion was the cause of the Bürger's disease Burgess suffered, and of the lung cancer that killed him.
  • Burgess was an occasional smoker of opium, which he described as "a fine drug", during both his Kota Bharu and Brunei years. But he was under no illusions as to its negative effects: "Later, abetted by an ailing liver, the bad visions would come", he wrote.
  • He once became an unwitting smuggler of opium. In 1957 Graham Greene asked him to bring some Chinese silk shirts back with him on furlough from Kuala Lumpur. As soon as Burgess handed over the shirts, Greene pulled out a knife and severed the cuffs, into which opium pellets had been sewn.
  • Burgess evinced qualified approval towards the smoking of hemp or cannabis, but with the proviso that it should be a means to an end rather than the end itself. Speaking of young people in a BBC Omnibus documentary in the 1960s, he said: "They smoke their marihuana, which is an admirable thing in itself, but no end of anything..."
  • Ironically in Burgess' novel A Clockwork Orange he refers to cigarettes as "cancers"


  • Burgess admits in his autobiography that his first act on arriving by ship in Singapore in 1954 was to visit a Chinese brothel while his wife slept in a room in the Raffles Hotel.
  • He claimed that Holofernes was in Elizabethan times used as a slang word for penis.
  • He prepared a translation of the erotic poetry of Giuseppe Gioacchino Belli, but it was never published. However, he produced what the poet and critic Anthony Thwaite has called "cheeky imitations" of Belli's satirical sonnets in the novel Abba Abba.
  • His wife Lynne, who has been described as "oversexed", is believed to have conducted a short-lived adulterous affair with Dylan Thomas. Burgess also knew Thomas slightly, and greatly admired his work.
  • In Burgess's novel Time for a Tiger, the Malay state of Perak is named Lanchap, which is the Malay word for masturbate.
  • Burgess announced on several occasions – it appeared to be a matter of some pride – that he had never in his life had carnal relations with an Englishwoman.
  • He enjoyed a miscellany of sexual partners from other lands, however, including Buginese, Japanese, Welsh, Malay, Chinese, Siamese, Italian and Singhalese women. And he wrote in the first volume of his autobiography, Little Wilson and Big God (p. 386 of the Penguin edition), that he had had sexual encounters "with Tamil women blacker than Africans, including a girl who could not have been older than twelve, but none with Bengalis and Punjabis". The vast majority of the liaisons had been, as he put it, "sadly commercial".
  • However, on a visit to Sarawak, he spent a night in an Iban longhouse where he was invited to sleep with the chief's daughters. He wrote: "The Ibans waved me off with smiles of gratitude....I sometimes think of the child I may have fathered...I hope I have given something to the East."
  • In Burgess's novel Beds in the East, one of the principal characters is named Mahalingam, which is "great phallus" in Sanskrit. A character of the same name appears also in "Earthly Powers."
  • Burgess was occasionally troubled, especially in his earlier years, by the problem of premature ejaculation and writes comically about it in the Enderby tetralogy and elsewhere. But he claimed later to have discovered the secret of controlling climax and prolonging pleasure during sexual congress. It was, he wrote, "a matter of reciting Milton only – 'High on a throne of royal state...' (Paradise Lost, Book Two)."
  • The comedian Benny Hill described Burgess as "the greatest living expert on sex".


The gin and tonic, preferred beverage both of Burgess and of his first wife Lynne
The gin and tonic, preferred beverage both of Burgess and of his first wife Lynne
  • Burgess was by most accounts a heavy consumer of alcoholic beverages, especially of cider during his Banbury/Adderbury years, of brandy-and-ginger in the East, and, throughout his life, of gin. He did not drink as heavily as his first wife Lynne, an alcoholic who lost her life to liver cirrhosis; yet when the couple were living at Etchingham, they are reported to have consumed half a dozen bottles of gin a week.
  • Burgess created his own cocktail, called "Hangman's Blood". He described its preparation as follows: "Into a pint glass, doubles [i.e. 50ml measures] of the following are poured: gin, whiskey, rum, port and brandy. A small bottle of stout is added and the whole topped up with Champagne... It tastes very smooth, induces a somewhat metaphysical elation, and rarely leaves a hangover."
  • In his middle years Burgess often drank beer, and in Malaya the two brands he enjoyed were Tiger and Anchor beer, brewed in both Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. He reveals in his autobiography that, when Time for a Tiger was published, he asked the manufacturer, then Fraser and Neave, for a complimentary clock with the Tiger beer slogan on it. The brewery declined to offer this or any other freebie. Fourteen years later, when Burgess was better known, it relented: the clocks were apparently no longer available, but in 1970 the company told Burgess he could consume any of their beers free of charge while in Singapore, with their compliments. "But it was too late." Burgess wrote, "I had become wholly a gin man."
  • Burgess cut his alcohol consumption to some extent in later life. "I drank too much until I was 50", he wrote. He often substituted tea. For his morning "cuppa", he habitually suffused up to six tea-bags per small teapot. And when drinking tea from a (pint-sized) mug at other times of the day, multiple tea-bags were also used. His preferred brand of tea was Twining's Irish Breakfast. He said of his dietary habits late in life: "I drink two gallons of overstrong tea each day and mumble a bit of stale bread."


  • Burgess suffered from Daltonism or colour blindness.
  • He was short-sighted — myopic from the age of 10 — although reluctant to wear spectacles. He claimed that he once walked into a bank, leaned against the counter and ordered a drink.
  • He was afflicted by dyspepsia, constipation and flatulence during much of his life, difficulties that are dwelt on to comic effect in the Enderby cycle of novels.
  • He was diagnosed by a physician in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, as suffering from Bürger's disease — his heavy alcohol consumption contributing to the condition. He described the symptoms thus: "toothache in the right calf, and a sudden accession of pins and needles, like a monstrous toilet flush, in the right foot."
  • During his Malayan years he went down on one or more occasions, as most then did, with dengue (sandfly fever) and malaria.
  • Burgess suffered what was reported as a collapse in Brunei Town in 1959, apparently occasioned by overwork, indications of incipient (rather than chronic) alcoholism, and poor nutrition. He had to be airlifted to England for tests and treatment. When he was repatriated, he was treated by the neurologist Roger Bannister, who in his days as an athlete had been the first man to run a mile in less than four minutes. Burgess claimed to have been trepanned by Dr Bannister.
  • He suffered from what he referred to as the Writer's Evil (haemorrhoids).
  • Burgess had a bout of chickenpox in 1969.
  • He had high blood pressure, which caused problems with his arteries.
  • Burgess was addicted to tobacco. He was diagnosed with lung cancer at New York's Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in October 1992, and was shortly thereafter to die of the disease at the age of 76.
  • He walked with a limp and often carried a stick.
  • He was uncircumcised.
  • He used Dexedrine to aid concentration while working. On unproductive days, he would take two or three Dexedrine tablets, washed down with a pint of gin and tonic (with ice cubes - he described unchilled gin as "an emetic").
  • His mitral valve was leaky.
  • Burgess nursed a lifelong hatred for physical fitness and its advocates and exponents. He conceived this antipathy in wartime Gibraltar, where the army put himself and other soldiers through a compulsory, and gruelling, programme of exercise. "Keep-fit men", he once stated, "are no good in bed." One of the reasons he apparently despised the Welshman J.D.R. ("Jimmy") Howell, headmaster of the Malay College where he taught in the 1950s, was that Howell was an enthusiastic rugby player.
  • He suffered from trigeminal neuralgia. He had a cyst in his back.


  • Burgess made no secret of his determination throughout his career to thwart tax authorities worldwide. "I will, naturally, cheat the fiscal tyrants, but it would be inhuman not to", he wrote.
  • Burgess's preferred medium of payment for his work, he indicated, was "non-taxable cash", and he maintained one or more Swiss bank accounts.
  • He kept to a strict personal rule of not accepting a publisher's advance on work not written.
  • Burgess's house in Lija, Malta, was confiscated by the Maltese authorities over non-payment of taxes.
  • Burgess was a currency smuggler. His house in Bracciano was, he wrote, paid for "by smuggling dollar royalty cheques into the [Italian] peninsula and paying them into the bank account of an expatriate American sculptor living near Rome".
  • His move to Monaco in 1974 was prompted by the knowledge that there is no income tax in the principality, and moreover that his widow Liana would not be required to pay death duties on his estate.


  • Burgess was among a select group of celebrity owners of the classic Bedford Dormobile (a campervan or motorhome of the Bedford marque, manufactured in England by Vauxhall Motors). He and his second wife spent, in the early years of their marriage, long periods on the road across western Europe, especially in France and Sicily, his wife driving the Dormobile while he wrote at a built-in desk behind. He later explained that the Dormobile aided him in what he described as "the struggle against bourgeois conformity".
  • He never learned to drive a car.


  • Burgess was a Lancastrian, and one of his favourite dishes, mentioned many times in his novels, autobiography and elsewhere, was Lancashire Hotpot. The journalist Auberon Waugh described Burgess's recipe for hotpot as "disgusting".
  • Burgess often praised a delicacy local to his birthplace of Harpurhey known as cow-heel pie.


  • Burgess took his Siamese cat, named Lalage, to Kuala Kangsar, Malaya, with him. It had an enjoyable tour but died in Kota Bharu, just across the border from Thailand.
  • He reveals in the first volume of his autobiography that in Kuala Kangsar he also had a polecat named Farouche (which consumed large quantities of bananas) and a turtle named Bucephalus.
  • He had a Border Collie during his Etchingham days, which he named Hajji.


The Ubudiah Mosque features prominently in Time for a Tiger, Burgess's novel of Kuala Kangsar
The Ubudiah Mosque features prominently in Time for a Tiger, Burgess's novel of Kuala Kangsar

For a brief period during his studies of the Malay language and culture during the late 1950s, Burgess seriously considered becoming a Muslim.

Explaining the allure of Islam in a 1969 interview with the University of Alabama scholar Geoffrey Aggeler, Burgess remarked: "You believe in one God. You say your prayers five times a day. You have a tremendous amount of freedom, sexual freedom; you can have four wives. The wife herself has a commensurate freedom. She can achieve divorce in the same way a man can."

He later fantasized: "Four wives and an incalculable number of offspring, all attesting my virility and sustained by my patriarchal authority."

In the novel 1985 (1978), Burgess imagines what Britain might be like if a virile, triumphant Islam won far-reaching influence in the country.

Places of residence

Principal sites, travelling south to north from Brunei to Scotland:

  • Bandar Seri Begawan: Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin College (workplace 1958-1959)
  • Kuala Kangsar, Perak: Malay College (workplace 1954-55); King's Pavilion (former Residence of the Governor of Perak, Burgess residence 1954-55; now a girls' school)
  • Kota Bharu, Kelantan: Malay Teachers' Training College (workplace 1955-1957)
Bracciano, where Burgess wrote M/F. He owned a house near the castello
Bracciano, where Burgess wrote M/F. He owned a house near the castello
  • Lija: 168 Main Street (a palazzo in white marble); residence 1968-1970; house confiscated by the government of Malta 1974
  • Gibraltar: stationed at army garrison, 1943-45
  • Rome: 16A Piazza Santa Cecilia (residence from 1971)
  • Deià: Mediterranean Institute (visiting professor, 1969)
  • Tangier: repeated visits in the 1960s
  • Bracciano: 1-2, Piazza Padella (residence from 1970)
  • Monaco: 44 rue Grimaldi, Condamine district (apartment on the third storey of a converted mansion; residence from 1976); 9 rue Princess Marie-de-Lorraine, Princess Grace Irish Library (co-founder)
  • Callian, Var , Provence: rue des Muets (residence from 1976)
  • Angers: 2, rue Alexandre Fleming (Anthony Burgess Center)
  • Lugano: chalet, with nuclear shelter in cellar; residence from 1986
  • Dormobile: occasional trans-European mobile residence, 1968 to early 1970s
  • Hove and Brighton, Sussex coast: apartments (residence 1959)
  • Etchingham, East Sussex: 'Applegarth' (semi-detached house), High Street, A265 road (residence 1959-1964)
  • London: 24, Glebe Street, Turnham Green, Chiswick (leasehold [55 years remaining] terraced house purchased 1963, residence 1964-68, then sub-let to a personal friend of the Burgesses); 63 Bickenhall Mansions, Bickenhall Street, off Baker Street (apartment, residence 1992-93); 60 Grove End Road, St John's Wood (Hospital of St John and St Elizabeth; deathplace 1993); Twickenham (house; date of purchase unknown but believed to be 1980s); Hospital for Tropical Diseases, Capper Street, Bloomsbury (patient 1959); Institute of Neurology, University College London at the National Hospital for Neurology & Neurosurgery, Queen Square, WC1 (patient 1959)
Lugano. During his last years, Burgess spent much time at a chalet he owned here
Lugano. During his last years, Burgess spent much time at a chalet he owned here
  • Oxfordshire: Banbury, Banbury Grammar School (workplace 1950-1954); Adderbury, 44, Water Lane (labourer's two-bedroom cottage then named Little Gidding, residence 1950-54)
  • Wolverhampton: Brinsford Lodge [see Biswell biography, page 117] (Mid-West School of Education, 1946-47)
  • Manchester: 91 Carisbrook Street, Harpurhey (birthplace 1917); Upper Monsall Street (St Edmund's RC Elementary School 1923); Princess Road (Bishop Bilsborrow Memorial Elementary School 1924); 21 Princess Road, Moss Side (tobacconist's shop and residence 1924); 261 Moss Lane East (off-licence and residence 1924; Burgess said half a century later that it had been "turned into a shebeen before it was demolished"); 10 Tatton Grove, Withington (International Anthony Burgess Foundation); Oxford Road (Church of the Holy Name, attended by the young Burgess); Monsall Road (Isolation Hospital, where the young Burgess was treated for scarlet fever, 1928); Victoria Park, Rusholme, Lower Park Road (Xaverian College, from 1928; "turned into a Muslim ghetto", Burgess later said); Manchester University (from 1937); Central Library, St Peter's Square (is picked up in his teens "by a woman of about 40" next to the card catalogue and taken to her flat, where he lost his virginity)
  • Warrington: Peninsula Barracks (Infantry Training Centre, 1943)
  • Preston: Bamber Bridge (Emergency Teacher Training College, 1948)
  • Morpeth, Northumberland: Cheviot Hall (Burgess joined 189 Field Ambulance of the B Company, 1941)
  • Austin, Texas: 21st and Guadalupe, Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center. Trove of Burgessiana, with papers dating from 1956 to 1997, the bulk being 1970s and 1980s
  • Chapel Hill, North Carolina: writer-in-residence at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 1969
  • Princeton, New Jersey: visiting professor at Princeton University 1970-1971
  • New York City: Apartment 10D, 670 West End Avenue, NY 10025 (from very early 1970s); workplaces: distinguished professor at City College of New York 1972; visiting professor at Columbia University 1972; Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (lung cancer diagnosis, 1992)
  • Buffalo, New York: writer-in-residence, State University of New York 1976
  • Eskbank, near Edinburgh: Royal Army Medical Corps (joined 1940)

Pop-culture influence

  • Burgess displayed more or less open contempt for most post-World War Two popular music. Its proponents are merciliessly satirised in Enderby Outside, which features a lamentable rock band called Yod Crewsy and the Fixers, who composed "emetic little songs".
  • Ironically in view of this, Burgess has been dubbed "the Godfather of Punk" because of the vivid nihilist world he created in the novel A Clockwork Orange.
  • The Rolling Stones manager Andrew Loog Oldham was a great admirer of A Clockwork Orange. And shortly after it came out in 1962, Mick Jagger indicated that he wished to take the role of Alex in a putative movie version. The other members of The Rolling Stones were to be his droogs.
  • The epitaph on Burgess's marble memorial stone at the cemetery in Monte Carlo includes the phrase "Abba Abba". The reference is to the rhyme scheme ABBA ABBA in sonnets, as explored in Burgess's novel Abba Abba, as well as to Burgess's initials and Christ's cry of Despair on the cross[3].
  • There has been a great deal of pop-world plagiarism from Burgess. Some examples:
  • The Sheffield electropop band Heaven 17 paid Burgess the compliment of naming themselves after a band that appears in Burgess's 1962 novel A Clockwork Orange (although they dropped the "the").
  • Another Sheffield group, Moloko, took its name from Burgess's (Russian-derived) Nadsat word for a drug-spiked milk drink.
  • The German punk rockers Die Toten Hosen's album Ein kleines bisschen Horrorschau referred to the Nadsat term, and Poland's Myslovitz produced an album called Korova Milky Bar.
  • A song by the band U2 named "Alex Descends Into Hell For A Bottle Of Milk / Korova I," which was featured on the soundtrack of the film Johnny Mnemonic and features a boy soprano singing a setting from the Dies Irae.
  • A popular bar and music venue in Liverpool is named the "Korova."
  • Bizzare virtuoso guitarist Buckethead wrote a song that was included on his "Island of Lost Minds" album called "Korova Binge Bar".
  • Argentinian punk-rock band Los Violadores became famous in the early eighties with a song called "1, 2, Ultraviolento", which refers to the "A Clockwork Orange" culture.

Early triumphs

  • Burgess's first published work was an essay on Torbay for the children's section of the Daily Express newspaper in 1928.
  • Burgess was placed 1,579th after taking, and presumably failing, the Customs & Excise test in 1928.
  • One of Burgess's professors at the University of Manchester was A.J.P. Taylor. Grading one of Burgess's term papers, the great historian wrote: "Bright ideas insufficient to conceal lack of knowledge."


  • Burgess garnered the Commandeur des Arts et des Lettres distinction of France and became a Monégasque Commandeur de Merite Culturel.
  • He was a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.
  • He took honorary degrees from St Andrews, Birmingham and Manchester universities.
  • Burgess's masterpiece Earthly Powers was shortlisted for, but famously failed to win, the 1980 English Booker Prize for fiction (the prize went to William Golding for Rites of Passage).


  • Anthony Burgess was known to many people in Italy, where he lived for several years, as Antonio Borghese.
  • He also published under his real name John Burgess Wilson and the pen-name Joseph Kell.
  • Burgess considered the composer Derek Bourgeois to be his alter ego.
  • Burgess was arguably as prodigious a creator of nonce words and neologisms, especially in A Clockwork Orange but across the whole range of his work, as was Frank Gelett Burgess (no relation) of "blurb", "bleesh", "bromide" and "gloogo" fame.


  • Burgess's birthplace of Harpurhey offers a sharp contrast to Monaco, where he spent most of his latter years. Harpurhey was described in a 2004 Independent on Sunday article by Ian Herbert North as "the most miserable place in Britain". North reveals that two neighbourhoods in Harpurhey are classified by the UK government as among the five most deprived in the country.
  • Harpurhey is home to Bernard Manning's World Famous Embassy Club. The late comedian Bernard Manning owned the venue, which is in Rochdale Road, very near Carisbrook Street where Burgess was born.
  • The Little and Large comic duo started their careers in Harpurhey.


  • Burgess wrote a full-length textbook in 1947 called The Young Fiddler's Tunebook. It was never published.
  • When Burgess was attacked by muggers in New York City one day in the early seventies, he brandished the swordstick that he tended to carry with him in the city's streets. This frightened off his assailants.
  • One of Burgess's last speaking engagements was at the Cheltenham Literature Festival in 1992. The subject of his address was 'translation', and Burgess quipped that he himself was 'shortly to be translated'. He died 13 months later.
  • Burgess was pursued by military police of the British Armed Forces for desertion after overstaying his leave from Morpeth military base with his bride Lynne in 1941.
  • He appears as a fictional character in A. S. Byatt's novel Babel Tower (1996) and in Paul Theroux's 'A. Burgess, Slightly Foxed: Fact and Fiction' (the New Yorker magazine, 1995).
  • He employed an Ethiopian maid at his New York apartment in the seventies.
  • Burgess, along with Quentin Crisp, took the photographs included in the 1992 Overlook Press edition of Mervyn Peake's Titus Alone.
  • Burgess sought unsuccessfully to make the critic and journalist Rhoda Koenig, architect of the Bad Sex in Fiction Award, his adopted daughter. He once sent her a review with the note: "To Miss Koenig, who persistently refuses to become my adopted daughter".
  • In 1984, he compiled a list of "99 fine novels produced between 1939 and now."


That so many writers have been prepared to accept a kind of martyrdom is the best tribute that flesh can pay to the living spirit of man as expressed in his literature. One cannot doubt that the martyrdom will continue to be gladly embraced. To some of us, the wresting of beauty out of language is the only thing in the world that matters.

Anthony Burgess, English Literature (ch. 21 of 1974 edition)


  • Time for a Tiger (1956) (Volume 1 of the Malayan trilogy, The Long Day Wanes)
  • The Enemy in the Blanket (1958) (Volume 2 of the trilogy)
  • Beds in the East (1959) (Volume 3 of the trilogy)
  • The Right to an Answer (1960)
  • The Doctor is Sick (1960)
  • The Worm and the Ring (1960)
  • Devil of a State (1961)
  • (as Joseph Kell) One Hand Clapping (1961)
  • A Clockwork Orange (1962)
  • The Wanting Seed (1962)
  • Honey for the Bears (1963)
  • (as Joseph Kell) Inside Mr. Enderby (1963) (Volume 1 of the Enderby quartet)
  • The Eve of St. Venus (1964)
  • Nothing Like the Sun: A Story of Shakespeare's Love Life (1964)
  • A Vision of Battlements (1965)
  • Tremor of Intent: An Eschatological Spy Novel (1966)
  • Enderby Outside (1968) (Volume 2 of the Enderby quartet)
  • M/F (1971)
  • Napoleon Symphony: A Novel in Four Movements (1974)
  • The Clockwork Testament, or Enderby's End (1974) (Volume 3 of the Enderby quartet)
  • Beard's Roman Women (1976)
  • Abba Abba (1977)
  • 1985 (1978)
  • Man of Nazareth (based on his screenplay for Jesus of Nazareth) (1979)
  • Earthly Powers (1980)
  • The End of the World News: An Entertainment (1982)
  • Enderby's Dark Lady, or No End of Enderby (1984) (Volume 4 of the Enderby quartet)
  • The Kingdom of the Wicked (1985)
  • The Pianoplayers (1986)
  • Any Old Iron (1988)
  • Mozart and the Wolf Gang (1991)
  • A Dead Man in Deptford (1993)
  • Byrne: A Novel (in verse) (1995)


  • Moses: A Narrative (1976) (long poem)
  • Revolutionary Sonnets and Other Poems, ed. Kevin Jackson (collection) (2002)


  • Carl Maria von Weber's Oberon Old and New (new libretto) (1985)
  • Blooms of Dublin: A Musical Play Based On James Joyce's Ulysses (1986)
  • A Clockwork Orange: A Play With Music (1987)

Short stories

  • 'An American Organ', in Splinters, ed. Alex Hamilton (1968)
  • 'I Wish My Wife Was Dead', Transatlantic Review (Winter 1969-1970 edition)
  • Will and Testament: A Fragment of Biography (reworking of Kipling's short story 'Proofs of Holy Writ') (1977)
  • The Devil's Mode and Other Stories (1989) (collection)

For children

  • A Long Trip to Tea Time (1976)
  • The Land Where The Ice Cream Grows (1979)


  • Little Wilson and Big God, Being the First Part of the Confessions of Anthony Burgess (1986)
  • You've Had Your Time, Being the Second Part of the Confessions of Anthony Burgess (1990)

Collections of journalism

  • Urgent Copy: Literary Studies (1968)
  • Homage to QWERT YUIOP: Selected Journalism 1978-1985 (1986), also published as But Do Blondes Prefer Gentlemen?: Homage to Qwert Yuiop and Other Writings
  • One Man's Chorus: The Uncollected Writings, ed. Ben Forkner (1998)


  • Shakespeare (1970)
  • Ernest Hemingway and his World (1978), also published as Ernest Hemingway
  • Flame Into Being: The Life and Work of D.H. Lawrence (1985)

Studies of linguistics

  • Language Made Plain (1964) (ISBN 0-8152-0222-9)
  • A Mouthful of Air: Language and Languages, Especially English (1992) (ISBN 0-688-11935-2)

Books on music

  • This Man and Music (1982)
  • On Mozart: A Paean for Wolfgang, Being a Celestial Colloquy, an Opera Libretto, a Film Script, a Schizophrenic Dialogue, a Bewildered Rumination (1991)

Joyce studies

  • Here Comes Everybody: An Introduction to James Joyce for the Ordinary Reader (1965), also published as Re Joyce
  • Joysprick: An Introduction to the Language of James Joyce (1973)

Works on literature

  • (as John Burgess Wilson) English Literature: A Survey for Students (1958, revised 1974)
  • The Novel To-day (1963)
  • The Novel Now: A Student's Guide to Contemporary Fiction (1967)
  • Scrissero in Inglese (1979) ("They Wrote in English", Italy only)
  • Ninety-Nine Novels: The Best in English since 1939 – A Personal Choice (1984)

Other non-fiction

  • 'What is Pornography?' (essay) in Perspectives on Pornography, ed. Douglas A. Hughes (1970)
  • Obscenity and the Arts (1973)
  • New York (1976)
  • A Christmas Recipe (1977)
  • On Going To Bed (1982)
  • An Essay on Censorship (letter to Salman Rushdie in verse) (1989)
  • Childhood (Penguin 60s series) (1996)
  • Rencontre au Sommet (conversations between Burgess and Isaac Bashevis Singer in book form) (1998)
  • Spain: The Best Travel Writing from the New York Times (2001) (section)
  • Return Trip Tango and Other Stories from Abroad (anthology of material published in Translation magazine) (2003) (section)


  • The Coaching Days of England (1966)
  • The Age of the Grand Tour (1966) (co-editor with Francis Haskell)
  • A Shorter 'Finnegans Wake' (1969)


  • (with Lynne Wilson) Michel de Saint Pierre’s The New Aristocrats (1962)
  • (with Lynne Wilson) Jean Pelegri’s The Olive Trees of Justice (1962)
  • Jean Servin’s The Man Who Robbed Poor Boxes (1965)
  • Edmond Rostand's Cyrano de Bergerac (first version 1971, second version 1985; new edition 1991) (translations/stage adaptations)
  • Sophocles' Oedipus the King (1972) (translation and adaptation)
  • Richard Strauss’s Cavalier of the Rose (Hugo von Hofmannsthal libretto) (1982).
  • Georges Bizet's Carmen, libretto (1986)
  • Alexandr Griboyedov’s Chatsky, or the Importance of Being Stupid (four-act verse comedy) (1993)

Selected musical compositions

  • Burgess: Music of an English Writer on the Riviera, album of music composed by Burgess and performed by the Aighetta Guitar Quartet, conducted by Avery Gosfield (1996 audio CD)
  • 'A Manchester Overture' (1989)
  • 'Tommy Reilly's Maggot', duet for harmonica and piano (1940s)
  • 'Rome in the Rain', piano and orchestra (1976)
  • Kalau Tuan Mudek Ka-Ulu, five Malay pantuns for soprano and native instruments (1955)
  • 'Gibraltar', symphonic poem (1944)
  • Dr Faustus, one-act opera (1940)
  • 'Trois Morceaux Irlandais', guitar quartet (1980s)
  • 'Bethlehem Palm Trees' (Lope de Vega) (1972)
  • Chaika, for ship's orchestra (1961; composed aboard the Baltika on voyage to Leningrad)
  • 'Song of a Northern City', for piano and orchestra (1947)
  • 'The Bad-Tempered Electronic Keyboard', 24 preludes and fugues for piano (1985)
  • Partita for string orchestra (1951)
  • 'Terrible Crystal: Three Hopkins sonnets for baritone, chorus and orchestra' (1952)
  • 'Ludus Multitonalis' for recorder consort (1951)
  • 'Lines for an Old Man' (i.e. Eliot) (1939)
  • Concertino for piano and percussion (1951)
  • Symphonies: 1937; 1956 (Sinfoni Melayu); 1975 (No. 3 in C)
  • Sinfoni Malaya for orchestra and brass band, including cries of "Merdeka!" from the audience (1957)
  • Mr W.S., ballet suite for orchestra (1979)
  • 'Cabbage Face', song for vaudeville skit (1937)
  • Sinfonietta for jazz combo
  • Pando, march for a P&O orchestra (1958)
  • 'Everyone suddenly burst out singing' (Sassoon) for voices and piano (1942)
  • Concertos for piano and flute
  • 'The Ascent of F6' (Isherwood), music for dance orchestra (1948)
  • 'Ode: Celebration for a Malay college', for boys' voices and piano (1954)
  • 'Cantata for a Malay college' (1954)
  • Passacaglia for orchestra (1961)
  • 'Song of the South Downs' (1959)
  • 'Mr Burgess's Almanack', winds & percussion (1987)
  • The Eyes of New York music score for movie project (1975)
  • 'Ich weiss es ist aus', group of cabaret songs (1939)
  • Music for Will! (1968)
  • Sonatas for piano (1946, 1951) and cello (1944)
  • Trotsky in New York, opera (1980)
  • Three guitar quartets, No. 1 in homage to Ravel (1986-1989)
  • The Brides of Enderby, song cycle (1977)
  • 'Music for Hiroshima', for double string orchestra (1945)
  • Suite for orchestra of Malays, Chinese and Indians (1956)

Prefaces, etc.

  • Introduction to Henry Howarth Bashford's Augustus Carp, Esquire, By Himself: Being the Autobiography of a Really Good Man (Heinemann 1966)
  • Introduction to Wilkie Collins's The Moonstone (Pan Books 1967)
  • Introduction to Daniel Defoe's A Journal of the Plague Year (Penguin 1967)
  • Introduction to Hubert Selby Jr's Last Exit to Brooklyn (Calder and Boyars 1968)
  • Introduction to Mervyn Peake's Titus Groan (Penguin 1968)
  • Introduction to G.K. Chesterton's Autobiography (Hutchinson 1969)
  • Introduction to G.V. Desani's All About H. Hatterr (Farrar, Straus and Giroux 1970)
  • Introduction to John Collier's The John Collier Reader (Knopf 1972)
  • Introduction to D.H. Lawrence and Italy (D.H. Lawrence's Twilight in Italy, Sea and Sardinia and Etruscan Places) (Viking Press 1972)
  • Foreword to Douglas Jerrold's Mrs Caudle's Curtain Lectures (Harvill 1974)
  • Introduction to Arthur Conan Doyle's The White Company (Murray 1975)
  • Introduction to Maugham's Malaysian Stories (Heinemann 1978)
  • Introduction to The Best Short Stories of J.G. Ballard (Henry Holt & Co 1978)
  • Introduction to Daniel Angeli and Jean-Paul Dousset's Private Pictures (Jonathan Cape 1980)
  • Preface to Modern Irish Short Stories, edited by Ben Forkner (Viking Press 1980)
  • Introduction to Rex Warner's The Aerodrome (Oxford University Press 1982)
  • Afterword to The Heritage of British Literature (Thames and Hudson 1983)
  • Foreword to Assessing the 1984 'Ulysses', No.1 in the Princess Grace Irish Library series of books (Rowman & Littlefield 1986)
  • Introduction to Richard Aldington's The Colonel's Daughter (Hogarth Press 1986)
  • Foreword to Alison Armstrong's The Joyce of Cooking (Station Hill Press 1986)
  • Introduction to H.E. Bates's A Month By The Lake & Other Stories (New Directions 1987)
  • Introduction to Venice: An Illustrated Anthology, compiled by Michael Marquesee (Conran Octopus 1988)
  • Preface to Ian Fleming's Casino Royale (Coronet Books 1988)
  • Preface to Ian Fleming's Dr. No (Coronet Books 1988)
  • Preface to Ian Fleming's Live and Let Die (Coronet Books 1988)
  • Preface to Ian Fleming's You Only Live Twice (Coronet Books 1988)
  • Preface to David W. Barber's Bach, Beethoven and the Boys: Music History as It Ought to Be Taught (Sound And Vision Publishing 1988)
  • Introduction to James Hanley's Boy (Andre Deutsch 1990)
  • Introduction to Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray (Penguin Authentic Texts 1991)
  • Introduction to F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby (Penguin Authentic Texts 1991)
  • Introduction to James Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (Vintage 1992)
  • Introduction to James Joyce's Ulysses (Vintage 1992)
  • Introduction to James Joyce's Finnegans Wake (Vintage 1992)
  • Preface to The Book of Tea (Flammarion 1992)
  • Introduction to Bob Cato and Greg Vitiello's Joyce Images (W.W. Norton 1994)
  • Introduction to Candy Is Dandy: The Best of Ogden Nash (Carlton Books 1994)
  • Foreword to collector's edition of James Joyce's Dubliners (Secker & Warburg 1994)
  • Foreword to collector's edition of James Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (Secker & Warburg 1994)
  • Foreword to collector's edition of James Joyce's Ulysses (Secker & Warburg 1994)
  • Afterword to Erica Jong's How to Save Your Own Life (Plume 1995)
  • Preface to Gore Vidal's Creation (Vintage USA 2002 edition of 1981 novel)

Further reading


  • Roger Lewis, Anthony Burgess (2002). A confused mixture of vilification and tribute, the book is highly readable and often penetrating. Equally, it is often wildly wrong. Lewis makes numerous unfounded assertions, for example hinting that Burgess was a spy for MI5 (see the Espionage section, above). Lewis, a former Fellow of Wolfson College, Oxford, is a critic and journalist.
  • Andrew Biswell, The Real Life of Anthony Burgess (2005). Semi-authorised by Burgess's widow, "Biswell's Life of Burgess" is thoroughly researched and authoritative. At the same time it is rather pedestrian and lacking in pychological and literary insight. Biswell is a lecturer in the English department of Manchester Metropolitan University.

Selected studies

  • Michael Ratcliffe, entry on Burgess for the New Dictionary of National Biography (2004).
  • Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians, 8th ed. (1992), on Burgess as musician
  • Richard Mathews, The Clockwork Universe of Anthony Burgess (Borgo Press, 1990)
  • Martine Ghosh-Schellhorn, Anthony Burgess: A Study in Character (Peter Lang AG, 1986)
  • Geoffrey Aggeler, Anthony Burgess: The Artist as Novelist (Alabama, 1979)
  • Samuel Coale, Anthony Burgess (New York, 1981)
  • A.A. Devitis, Anthony Burgess (New York, 1972)
  • John J. Stinson, "Anthony Burgess Revisited" (Boston, 1991)
  • Jerome Gold, The Prisoner's Son: Homage to Anthony Burgess (Black Heron Press 1996)
  • Robert K. Morris, The Consolations of Ambiguity: An Essay on the Novels of Anthony Burgess (Missouri, 1971)
  • Carol M. Dix, Anthony Burgess (British Council, 1971)
  • Paul Phillips, A Clockwork Counterpoint: The Music and Literature of Anthony Burgess (Manchester University Press, forthcoming).


A few of the memoirs and other books in which Burgess is discussed:

  • Michael Mewshaw, 'Do I Owe You Something?', Granta No. 75 (2001)
  • Gore Vidal, United States: Essays 1952-1992 (1993)
  • Frederic Raphael, Eyes Wide Open (1999)
  • Kingsley Amis, Memoirs (1991)
  • D.J. Enright, A Mania for Sentences (1983); Man Is An Onion (1972)

Selected media profiles

  • 'Playboy Interview: Anthony Burgess', Playboy, September 1974
  • Valerie Grove, 'This Old Man Comes Ranting Home', The Times, March 6, 1992
  • Jim Hicks, 'Eclectic Author Of His Own Five-Foot Shelf', Life, October 25, 1968
  • Anthony Lewis, 'I Love England, But I Will No Longer Live There', The New York Times Magazine, November 3, 1968
  • Richard Heller, 'Burgess The Betrayer', London Mail on Sunday, April 11, 1993
  • Edward Pearce, 'Let Us Now Honour a Wordsmith of Unearthly Powers', The Sunday Times, July 31, 1988
  • Michael Barber, 'Getting Up English Noses: Burgess at Seventy', Books, April 1987
  • Roger Lewis, 'The greatest story Anthony Burgess never told — his life as a secret agent', London Mail on Sunday, December 1, 2002
  • Chris Burkham, 'Lust for Language', The Face, April 1984
  • Anthony Clare, 'Unearthly Powers', Listener, July 28, 1988
  • Jonathan Meades, 'Anthony Burgess, or the making of a major monster', Evening Standard, November 4, 2002


  • Many of Burgess's literary and musical papers are archived at the International Anthony Burgess Foundation in Withington, Manchester.
  • The largest collection of Burgessiana is held at the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center of the University of Texas at Austin.
  • Burgess scholars will find much of interest at the Anthony Burgess Center of the University of Angers, with which Burgess's widow Liana (Liliana Macellari) is connected.
 Works of Anthony Burgess
Novels: The Malayan Trilogy |Time for a Tiger | The Enemy in the Blanket | Beds in the East | The Right to an Answer | The Doctor is Sick | The Worm and the Ring | Devil of a State | One Hand Clapping | A Clockwork Orange | The Wanting Seed | Honey for the Bears | Inside Mr. Enderby | The Eve of St. Venus | Nothing Like the Sun | A Vision of Battlements | Tremor of Intent | Enderby Outside | M/F | Napoleon Symphony | The Clockwork Testament | Beard's Roman Women | Abba Abba | 1985 | Man of Nazareth | Earthly Powers | The End of the World News | Enderby's Dark Lady | The Kingdom of the Wicked | The Pianoplayers | Any Old Iron | Mozart and the Wolf Gang | A Dead Man in Deptford | Byrne
Short stories: The Devil's Mode
Critical works: Shakespeare | Joysprick | Ninety-Nine Novels | A Mouthful of Air
Autobiography: Little Wilson and Big God | You've Had Your Time
Journalism: Homage to QWERT YUIOP | One Man's Chorus
  1. ^ Anthony Burgess, This Man And Music, pp 17-18, McGraw-Hill (1982) ISBN 0-07-008964-7
  2. ^ ibid, p 19
  3. ^ A. S. Byatt. Other pasts, other places. Book Bag. June 21, 1999.
  • The Anthony Burgess Center, at the University of Angers
  • 1985 audio interview of Anthony Burgess by Don Swaim of CBS Radio, RealAudio
  • Anthony Burgess at the Internet Movie Database
  • Burgess papers at the University of Texas at Austin:
  • The Paris Review interview
  • Second International Anthony Burgess Symposium - "Selves and Others" at Liverpool Hope University
  • TV Interview of Anthony Burgess on The Clockwork Orange movie
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