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William Seward Burroughs

Burroughs, William Seward, 1914–97, American novelist, b. St. Louis, grad. Harvard, 1936. He was an elder member of the beat generation. Junkie (1953), originally published under the pseudonym William Lee, and Queer (written 1953, pub. 1985) are autobiographical accounts of his drug addiction, homosexual experiences, and the accidental killing of his wife. His best-known novel, Naked Lunch (1959), is a surrealistic depiction of the addict's existence. Burroughs's violent and bizarre fiction contributed to the redefinition of the novel's style and permissible subject matter. Later works include Cities of the Red Night (1981), Place of the Dead Roads (1984), Interzone (1989), and the semiautobiographical My Education: A Book of Dreams (1995).

See his journals, The Retreat Diaries (1976) and the posthumously published Last Words (ed. by J. Grauerholz, 1999); O. Harris, ed., The Letters of William S. Burroughs, 1945–1959 (1993) and B. Morgan, ed, Rub Out the Words: The Letters of William S. Burroughs, 1959–1974 (2012); biographies by T. Morgan (1988) and B. Miles (1993); studies by J. Skerl (1985) and R. Lydenberg (1987).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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