Friend and Neighbor Sells Burroughs Collectibles
This past weekend a friend and neighbor of William S. Burroughs, Patricia Elliott Marvin, held a garage sale to dispense with some 30 boxes of Burroughs and Beat memorabilia she’d collected over the years. The memorabilia included signed books, posters, art prints, drawings, t-shirts, and a note from Burroughs explaining how to care for his cats. There don’t seem to have been any followup articles to explain how the sale went, but several local papers carried stories prior to the event (see Lawrence Journal-World and the Kansas City Star). And here’s a picture of Ms. Marvin with her Burroughs stuff.
Thoughts by the Seller
After RealityStudio.org posted a note about the Burroughs garage sale, Ms. Patricia Elliott Marvin — the seller herself — posted a note to the forum describing how the sale went. Here’s what she had to say:
The aftersale period has been interesting. It was hard to decide to quit storing so much but the experience was gratifying. I really liked the local response to the sale. Both book lovers and historians came. The rarest things I sold were little books Edie K Parker wrote for the River City Reunion, some personal notes William wrote me and the Retreat Diaries signed by all four guys, William, Allen , James G. and David Ohle. For myself I kept back about 10 things, the book Ruski which is just one of my favorites, a copy of the Western Lands, a couple of letters (including one explaining how to care for the cats and other house sitting details), some art, an Ann Waldman signed poster and a Charles Plymell signed book.
Combining a home sale and an ebay sale was great. On Ebay some of the stuff went around the world, even Utah. There will be another ebay run. My son is doing that for me. The day of the sale there were a hundred people waiting politely outside my door.
In the afternoon of the sale, Marion O’Dwyer, Jose and I sat around gabbbing, Marian and I shared that we had the same experience with our friendship with William. I found him the least sexist guy. When it came to intellectual discussion or just emotional openess he was inclusive to me. It was a relief to be incouraged to stay in the debates or conversation rather than having to jockey not to be excluded.
I was lucky to know him. I admired his constant intellectual and artistic activity. I loved the guy. I miss the fun.
And in a follow-up email to RealityStudio, Ms. Marvin added a few further details:
I wanted to thank all the people for their interest. Why did I have a garage sale is a question I was asked a lot. I felt that it was important that the community got to participate, it was a chance for a lot of locals to see the stuff even if they maybe couldn’t buy. William was a part of our culture here. I also had a large amount of Kansas small press, poetry and alternative newspapers. I loved seeing so many old friends of William and many of mine. The ebay thing would have been beyond me but my son handled it very well. I especially liked the Canadian teaching a Beat course in Japan finding support books for his course, he found me through the ebay thing. The Oscar Wilde bookstore in DC also bought some of the rarer items. They were very charming in their enthusiasm. The ebay run will be in a couple of weeks and it should be interesting. While most things I had at the sale sold, I hadn’t finished sorting my boxes and some friends are adding some of their items.
I have sold salvage all my life. When William moved to his house on Leanard, he came over and furnished it from my garage, table, couch, chair, lamp and desk, total $87. just until he could find the right things for his home. Later I was reading a Rolling Stone article that described his living room decorated as if he bought it all at once from a garage sale. He had. I was embarrassed. Later of course he found the pieces he needed one by one but the little metal lamp sat on his dining table, which was the center of it all, until he died.