@Novelists, Career and Facts
William S. Burroughs born at
William S. Burroughs was born on February 5, 1914 to Mortimer Perry Burroughs and Laura Hammon Lee in St Louis, Missouri, United States. He was the youngest son of the couple. While his father was an antique and gift shop owner, his mother came from a prestigious family and was daughter of a minister.
Academically, he first attended John Burroughs School, later on moving to Los Alamos Ranch School in New Mexico, finally completing his high school degree from Taylor School in Clayton, Missouri.
It was while at John Burroughs School that he wrote his first ever essay, titled ‘Personal Magnetism’ which was published in John Burroughs Review in 1929
In 1932, he enrolled at the Harvard University to pursue a degree in arts. During his summer vacation, he took up the job of a cub reporter for the city newspaper, St Louis Post-Dispatch, covering police docket. He graduated in 1936.
During his years at the Harvard, he made frequent trips to New York City. It were these voyages that opened gateways of the city’s gay subculture, lesbian joints and underground homosexual clubs.
Concluding his studies at Harvard, he moved to Europe and was exposed to the Austrian and Hungarian Weimar-era homosexuality. He spent much of his time with the homosexuals, runaways and exiles of the city.
Returning to US, he took up a series of odd jobs. His declining emotional health became a matter of concern for his parents. Furthermore, he was drafted as a 1-A Infantry and not an officer, in the US Army in 1942, which further left him depressed.
Released from the Army on grounds of mental instability, he was then treated by family friend who was a neurologist at a psychiatric treatment center. It was there that he befriended a Chicago soldier.
Released from the treatment center, he relocated to Chicago and took up a series of jobs. He moved to New York City and in 1944, became involved with Joan Vollmer Adams.
In 1945, he along with Vollmer, penned his first ever written work titled, ‘And the Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks’ which remained unpublished until 2008. The work gave an account of the real-life murder of David Kammerer by Lucien Carr, his friend.
In 1983, he was elected to the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters.
In 1984, he was the proud recipient of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by France.