Archive of News Related to William S. Burroughs
Big Bucks for Beat Auction
The San Francisco Chronicle has a wrap-up of the recent Edwin Blair auction of Beat literature, reporting that it raised almost a quarter of a million dollars. The article details how Mr. Blair was actually selling his collection to raise money for Gypsy Lou Webb, who published some of Charles Bukowski’s earliest works. Apparently her home was devastated by hurricane Katrina.
— March 2006
New York Public Library Buys Burroughs Collection
The Berg Collection of the New York Public Library has purchased the Burroughs archive that first belonged to Roberto Altmann, the Liechtenstein collector who bought it from Burroughs, and then belonged to the Ohio-based collectors Robert and Donna Jackson. The archive contains some 11,000 pages of manuscript and typescript material, including draft versions and notes for virtually all of Burroughs’s works through 1972. This is the same material that was described in the extremely rare publication A Descriptive Catalogue of the William S. Burroughs Archive, compiled by Barry Miles in 1973.
A number of newspapers have featured stories about the acquisition. Robert Jackson, who sold the collection to the NYPL, told his local paper that it’s “half a ton of stuff that we brought from Liechtenstein to Cleveland… We have all kinds of stories about Burroughs — but not for publication.” The New York Times covered the story, quoting our friend and noted Burroughs scholar Oliver Harris. (Here’s a PDF for those of you who don’t want to register). And an article in the Lawrence Journal-World also mentions the controversial project to turn Burroughs’ house into a museum.
RealityStudio thinks that this is an important turn of events in the Burroughs world. It will enable scholars to access thousands of pages of a word hoard that has rarely ever been seen. There will probably not be any major unpublished text lurking in there, as Queer once was, but there are certain to be all sorts of other treasures that will enrich and delight Burroughs fans for decades to come.
— March 2006
Interzone Beat Festival
As Johnny Strike pointed out on the forum, the Beat Hotel in Desert Hot Springs, California, will be hosting an Interzone Beat Festival in honor of William S. Burroughs’ birthday. The festival will feature performances by Grant Hart, founder of Husker Du, and possibly an appearance by James Grauerholz, Burroughs’ longtime friend and editor. There will also be an exhibition of photographs of the original Beat Hotel in Paris by Harold Chapman, who lived there during the Beat era and took many intimate photographs of Burroughs, Ginsberg, et al.
— February 2006
Cut and Paste
“Cut and Paste” is a new article about Burroughs in the British newspaper Guardian Unlimited. It is occasioned by the major exhibit of Burroughs artwork that is about to occur in London. In addition, it mentions that the revised edition of Naked Lunch is about to be published in the UK and that Viking is going to release Evil River, “a new volume of autobiographical writings,” in December. Could it be that we’ll finally see Evil River?
— August 2005
Historic Designation Sought for Burroughs’ House
In today’s Lawrence Journal-World, there is a long and fascinating article about James Grauerholz’s quest to obtain a historical designation for Burroughs’ former home in Lawrence, Kansas. “This is really the first step in a longer-range plan of setting up a nonprofit to restore and maintain the house,” Grauerholz told the paper, adding that he hopes to use the house for a writer-in-residence program. Further, he hopes to create a museum and gift shop in downtown Lawrence. Some locals, however, do not like the idea of commemorating a wife-killer, junky, and writer of obscene novels.
(The article also has a fascinating photo gallery featuring pictures of Burroughs and his house. Since these photos were provided by William Burroughs Communications, it’s possible they had never been published before.)
— June 2005
Burroughs Didn’t Shoot in His Own Backyard
In an article in the current Lawrence Journal-World, James Grauerholz debunks the myth that Burroughs used to shoot pistols in his own backyard… “‘William didn’t shoot guns off in his back yard,’ says James Grauerholz, Burroughs’ longtime manager… ‘William preferred the company of his friends, outdoors at Fred Aldrich’s house (mostly), trying out each others’ pistols, then breaking for a couple of vodka-Cokes indoors — and then back out for more shooting,’ Grauerholz says. ‘He often remarked, ‘See how a couple of vod-and-Cokes steadies my aim?””
— June 2005
Lucien Carr Passes Away
Lucien Carr, a boyhood friend of Burroughs from St Louis and a “catalyst for the Beat generation,” died of bone cancer on 25 January 2005. Ironically, he outlived all of the major Beat writers he is said to have introduced: Carr knew Burroughs from St Louis, Allen Ginsberg from Columbia University, and Jack Kerouac via the latter’s girlfriend Edie Parker. Once an aspiring Rimbaud-like poet himself, Carr is best remembered in the Burroughs biography for the unfortunate killing of Dave Kammerer, another St Louis friend who had developed a homosexual obsession with the heterosexual Carr. There is a bio of Carr at the excellent LitKicks website, and the Telegraph published a nice obituary.
— February 2005