Photograph of American writer William S. Burroughs.

William S. Burroughs

(1914 - 1977)

Having graduated from Harvard University in 1936, William S. Burroughs in 1943 settled in New York City where he befriended Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac and began using heroin. He accidentally shot and killed his second wife in Mexico in 1951 while playing a drunken game of William Tell. After undergoing treatment for drug addiction, Burroughs published Naked Lunch in 1959.

All Writing

A functioning police state needs no police.

—William S. Burroughs, 1959

Miscellany

For the 1968 DNC in Chicago, Esquire sent Terry Southern, Jean Genet, and William S. Burroughs to cover it. A “hard-hitting little press team,” Southern wrote, that, later joined by Allen Ginsberg, “had one hell of a time actually getting admitted to the hall, despite proper credentials. Burroughs and I, of course, are veritable paragons of fashion and decorum—but Ginsberg and Genet, it must be admitted, are pretty weird-looking guys.”

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