Burroughs, William

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Burroughs, William Gender: M
William Seward Burroughs
born on 5 February 1914 at 07:40 (= 07:40 AM )
Place St.Louis, Missouri, 38n38, 90w12
Timezone CST h6w (is standard time)
Data source
BC/BR in hand
Rodden Rating AA
Collector: Rodden
Astrology data s_su.18.gif s_aqucol.18.gif 15°56' s_mo.18.gif s_gemcol.18.gif 10°08 Asc.s_aqucol.18.gif 27°20'

File:William S. Burroughs at the Gotham Book Mart.jpg
William Burroughs
photo: * Allen_Ginsberg_and_William_S._Burroughs.jpg: Marcelo Noah, license cc-by-2.0


American writer, bisexual and heroin addict. While living in Tangier in the 1950s, he wrote "Naked Lunch," 1959, which he described as a personal "catharsis." It made him an underground celebrity and is considered by many to be his best work.

Heir to the Burroughs Adding Machine Company fortune, William was raised in upper middle-class circumstances in St. Louis, Missouri. He was a bookworm fascinated with guns and crime, showing an innate inclination to break all the rules. His parents seemed to accept the fact that he would never fit into normal society, and after he graduated from Harvard in 1936, they continued to support him financially. Aware of his strong homoerotic drive, he experimented with various lifestyles.

Searching for identity, Burroughs moved to New York when he was in his early 30’s, where he joined the city’s gangster underworld. Buying stolen goods and drugs, he intentionally became a heroin addict in the early ’40s after initially experimenting with morphine. In 1943, he met Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg, two writers who later became principal figures in the "Beat" movement. The three became close friends, and Kerouac once described Burroughs as "tall, 6' 1", strange, inscrutable because ordinary looking, like a shy bank clerk with a patrician thin-lipped cold blue-lipped face." They were impressed by his obvious intelligence and worldly cynicism, and were interested in his underworld experimentation.

A strong emphasis on personal freedom is evident in his life and his writing, and he moved to East Texas, joined by Herbert Huncke and Joan Vollmer Adams, where he became a farmer, growing oranges, cotton and marijuana. The threesome lived in squalor on the farm, addled by the drugs they took. Burroughs’ life during that period was later used as fodder for Kerouac’s book "On the Road."

By his mid-30s, Burroughs had not published anything although he was surrounded by others who had established their writing careers. Apparently indifferent to serious literary thought, he wrote "Junkie: Confessions of an Unredeemed Drug Addict," an autobiography about his heroin addiction, which was published under the pen name, William Lee. Ginsberg arranged for its release as a pulp paperback by Ace Books. Burroughs’ next attempt, "Queer," was a study of his homosexuality, but it was not published for many years. He went on to write many books, film scripts, plays and essays, and modern rock musicians often cite the crystalline clarity and raw power of his writing as their inspiration. In the early 1950s, he traveled to South America in search of a drug called yage, and his letters from that period were later collected and published as "The Yage Letters," 1963. In 1981, he settled in Lawrence, Kansas.

In 1947, he began to live with Joan Vollmer, who became his second wife; they had one son together, William S. Burroughs, Jr. In the early 1950s, with the authorities after him for his drug activities, they moved to Mexico, taking Joan’s son from her first marriage with them. It was there that he accidentally shot and killed her in a drunken prank on 9/06/1951, while trying to show off his marksmanship abilities by shooting a glass off her head. He was arrested, but later released on bail. After Joan’s death, their son lived with Burroughs’ parents in Florida.

Burroughs said that the death of his wife gave him a literary career. He stated that he had been possessed by "the Ugly Spirit," who was controlling him at the time of the accident, and that the incident maneuvered him into a lifelong struggle. The only solution, he said, was "to write my way out."

His literary work is a strong presence in contemporary literature. Howard Brookner documented Burroughs’ life in the 1983 film "Burroughs." He died on 8/02/1997, Lawrence, KS.

Link to Wikipedia biography


  • associate relationship with Anderson, Laurie (born 5 June 1947). Notes: creative partnership


  • Social : End a program of study 1936 (Graduated from Harvard)
  • Relationship : Begin significant relationship 1943 (Became friends with Kerouac and Ginsberg)
  • Relationship : Begin significant relationship 1947 (Began to live with Joan Villmer)
  • Crime : Homicide Perpetration 6 September 1951 (Accidentally killed Joan Villmer)
    chart Placidus Equal_H.
  • Work : Published/ Exhibited/ Released 1959 (Book released)
  • Work : Published/ Exhibited/ Released 1963 (Published "The Yage Letters")
  • Family : Change residence 1981 (Moved to Lawrence, Kansas)

Source Notes

B.C. in hand from Felipe Ferreira


  • Traits : Body : Size (6'1")
  • Diagnoses : Psychological : Abuse Drugs (Heroin and other drugs)
  • Family : Childhood : Advantaged (Affluent but rebellious upbringing)
  • Family : Relationship : Number of Marriages (Two)
  • Family : Parenting : Kids 1-3 (One son)
  • Lifestyle : Financial : Gain - Inheritance (Burroughs Machines heir)
  • Passions : Sexuality : Bi-Sexual (Menage-a-tois)
  • Passions : Criminal Perpetrator : Homicide single (Accidentally killed second wife while drunk)
  • Vocation : Writers : Autobiographer
  • Vocation : Writers : Fiction (Essays, letters)
  • Vocation : Writers : Playwright/ script (Plays)