Anthony Burgess (25 February 1917 – 22 November 1993) was an English writer, poet, and composer. Mr. Burgess is known for his comic, dystopian works; the best known of them is A Clockwork Orange.
Fun Facts about Anthony Burgess:
- John Burgess Wilson was born in Manchester, England to a lower-middle-class (his words) family. Even though he grew up during the Great Depression, the family was well off due to his parents’ occupation: shopkeepers who sold tobacco and alcohol among other goods.
The name Anthony is from his confirmation, he started to use his nom de plume in 1956 when the novel Time for a Tiger was published.
- Even though Anthony Burgess is known for A Clockwork Orange, he was a very prolific writer. Writing more than 50 works, including plays, translations, children’s books, essays, poetry, music books, biographies, and even a TV show.
He even translated T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land into Persian (a translation that has not been published). He also spoke Hebrew, Chinese, Swedish, Russian, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Welsh, and others. Mr. Burgess might not have been fluent in the languages, but he could be understood.
- During his life Mr. Burgess was known to be an expert on James Joyce, Christopher Marlowe, and William Shakespeare among others. In fact, the book ReJoyce is considered to be one of the best works to introduce a deep analysis of Joyce’s work for scholars and laymen alike.
- Even though the author had a PhD from Manchester University, he never used the title, nor called himself “doctor”.
- Part of A Clockwork Orang was inspired by the rape of Mrs. Burgess by four American deserters during World War II. Mrs. Burgess was also assaulted, and lost the child she was carrying. At the time, the author was serving in Gibraltar and sadly was denied leave to comfort her.
The couple could not have children again, and Mrs. Burgess drank herself to an early grave.
- A man with a healthy sense of humor, in 1963 he once wrote an anonymous review of his own book, Inside Mr Enderby, for the Yorkshire Post.
The review was not a positive one, calling it a “laughing stock”. The Post wasn’t amused and dismissed Mr. Burgess from his position at the paper. He did, however, gained fame as a literary villain for a short while.
- In 1985 Anthony Burgess wrote the novel 1985, a tribute to Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four. The book consisted of two parts: a critical response to the novel, and a short dystopian novel that tells of the rise of Trade Unions, Islam, general strikes, and England dealing with mass immigration.
- Before starting to write, Anthony Burgess taught English. Among his students were the Sultan of Brunei, and Nathaniel Wouk (son of Herman). He enjoyed teaching very much and often thought of returning to the occupation. The observant reader would notice that Anthony Burgess’ books have a teaching quality to them in literary, as well as linguistic matters.
- In his final years, Mr. Burgess wrote several books to be published after his death, so his second wife, Italian Contessa, literary agent, and translator Liana Burgess would have income coming in
- Friends of Mr. Burgess always described him as a kind man, always willing to help either personally or professionally. He rarely turned down interviews, read manuscripts, and was very generous.
Wouldn’t we all want to be remembered like that?
Zohar — Man of la Book
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