Search Site
This site uses cookies to deliver our services, improve performance, for analytics, and (if not signed in) for advertising. By using LibraryThing you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your use of the site and services is subject to these policies and terms.
MembersReviewsPopularityRatingFavorited   Events   
32,638 (41,201)414493 (3.67)2120
From hipster to so-called Godfather of Punk, William Burroughs has lived a controversial life as a leading member of the Beat Generation and a daring writer of psychedelic literary experiments, but, when he reached his seventieth birthday in 1984, it was almost as if he had been overtaken by respectability. Burroughs was born in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1914 as the grandson of the man who invented the adding machine and a descendant of Robert E. Lee of Civil War fame. He attended Harvard University. Later while living a bohemian life in association with such Beat writers as Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac, Burroughs became addicted to morphine and under the pseudonym William Lee published his first novel, Junkie, in 1953 as half of an Ace Double Books paperback. The novel escaped critical notice but may be seen now as the forerunner of his later fiction with its introduction of many of the themes, settings, characters, and amoral postures that became prominent with Naked Lunch (1959) and its successors. Refused by the American publishers to whom Burroughs submitted the manuscript, Naked Lunch first appeared in Paris under the Olympia Press imprint in 1959, the same year that Burroughs was permanently cured of his addiction. Naked Lunch might have remained ignored had not Mary McCarthy and Norman Mailer called attention to the work at the International Writers Conference held in Edinburgh in 1962. Burroughs's raw subject matter and seeming lack of discipline have alienated some of the more academic and genteel literary critics. Naked Lunch was followed by three additional novels about the Nova crime syndicate-The Soft Machine (1961), The Ticket That Exploded (1962), and Nova Express (1964), which make use of overlapping characters and motifs. With The Wild Boys of 1971, Burroughs began to develop a new style more accessible to the general reader. Although Cities of the Red Night (1981) received mixed reviews, it was praised by such Burroughs experts as Jennie Skerl and Robert Burkholder as perhaps the best of his more recent novels. Of The Place of Dead Roads (1983) is true to Burroughs's various obsessions with guns, homosexuality, and the terror produced by people who are addicted to power and control. Today much of the psychedelic effect of Burroughs's fiction appears to be an illusion that masks rather deliberate methods of composition. These include "cut-out" techniques, pastiche, and the deliberate trying-out of styles derived from popular fiction genres to create literary montages that owe as much to fantasy and science as to the surrealism of avant-garde literature. (Bowker Author Biography)
— biography from Naked Lunch
… (more)
Disambiguation Notice

This is the beat author, not to be confused with his son of the same name, also an author.

Naked Lunch 6,653 copies, 64 reviews
Junky 4,517 copies, 50 reviews
Naked Lunch: The Restored Text 3,733 copies, 50 reviews
Queer 1,600 copies, 23 reviews
The Soft Machine 1,415 copies, 15 reviews
Cities of the Red Night 1,353 copies, 10 reviews
Nova Express 999 copies, 10 reviews
The Ticket That Exploded 912 copies, 3 reviews
The Place of Dead Roads 873 copies, 3 reviews
The Wild Boys: A Book of the Dead 851 copies, 5 reviews
The Western Lands 800 copies, 3 reviews
Exterminator! 648 copies, 4 reviews
The Yage Letters 595 copies, 4 reviews
Interzone 566 copies, 3 reviews
The Cat Inside 549 copies, 7 reviews
My Education: A Book of Dreams 526 copies, 1 review
Ghost of Chance 318 copies, 7 reviews
The Burroughs File 195 copies, 2 reviews
Blade Runner: A Movie 178 copies, 2 reviews
Port of Saints 160 copies, 4 reviews
Electronic Revolution 110 copies, 1 review
The Third Mind 97 copies, 1 review
Tornado Alley 77 copies
Ah Pook Is Here! 74 copies, 1 review
Sidetripping (Author) 64 copies, 2 reviews
A William Burroughs Reader 59 copies, 1 review
The Finger 46 copies
Painting & guns 42 copies
Roosevelt After Inauguration 38 copies, 1 review
The book of breeething 38 copies, 1 review
Cobble stone gardens 37 copies, 1 review
White Subway 33 copies, 1 review
Early Routines 26 copies
Minutes to Go. 23 copies, 1 review
Die alten Filme 13 copies
Snack... 10 copies
Apocalypse 9 copies
You Can't Win 7 copies
Ali's smile 6 copies
Jack Kerouac 6 copies
Essais 6 copies
The Road To The Western Lands (Contributor) 5 copies
The Junky's Christmas [1993 film] (Author & Narrator) 5 copies
Thee Films 4 copies
Sinki's sauna 4 copies
RE/SEARCH 3 copies
RUSKI 3 copies
Essais tome 1 3 copies
Entre chats 3 copies
7786 - Burroughs, Wm. (Contributor) 3 copies
Alasti lnasok 3 copies
DARAZT 2 copies
THE DARK EYE 2 copies
STILETTO 2 copies
Essais / 2 2 copies
Son Sozler 1 copy
Playboy. Vol. 17 No. 2 (Contributor) 1 copy
SPERO 1 copy
In Dub 1 copy
Akademi 23 1 copy
ćpun 1 copy
Kame Kaze 1 copy
Pesko 1 copy
Top 1 copy
POSTCARD 1 1 copy
KLACTO 23 1 copy
ON THE BUS 1 copy
UNIVERS 10 1 copy
UNIVERS 12 1 copy
PARDON 1 copy
Johnny 23 1 copy
TEXTES 1 copy
RAPID EYE 1 copy
I 1 copy
ASYLUM 3 1 copy
Pengefutar 1 copy
ZONE 7 1 copy
RUSH 1 copy
The Portable Beat Reader (Viking Portable Library) (Contributor) 1,364 copies, 8 reviews
You Can't Win (Introduction, some editions) 604 copies, 14 reviews
The Outlaw Bible of American Poetry (Contributor) 543 copies, 3 reviews
The Wild Party (Introduction, some editions) 537 copies, 13 reviews
Scattered Poems (City Lights Pocket Poets Series) (Photography, some editions) 403 copies, 6 reviews
The Faber Book of Gay Short Fiction (Contributor) 308 copies
The Portable Sixties Reader (Contributor) 298 copies, 3 reviews
The New Media Reader (Contributor) 283 copies, 1 review
The Olympia Reader (Contributor) 263 copies, 1 review
Postmodern American Fiction: A Norton Anthology (Contributor) 259 copies, 1 review
Writing New York: A Literary Anthology (Contributor) 255 copies, 4 reviews
Semiotext(e) SF (Contributor) 238 copies
William Burroughs, Brion Gysin, Throbbing Gristle (Contributor) 228 copies, 1 review
High Risk: An Anthology of Forbidden Writings (Contributor) 201 copies, 2 reviews
Mindfield: New and Selected Poems (Foreword, some editions) 180 copies
The Starry Wisdom: A Tribute to H.P. Lovecraft (Contributor) 179 copies, 2 reviews
Writers at Work 03 (Interviewee) 136 copies
Chaos & Cyber Culture (Contributor) 128 copies
SF12 (Contributor) 114 copies
The Herbert Huncke Reader (Foreword, some editions) 105 copies, 1 review
On the Line: New Gay Fiction (Contributor) 80 copies, 1 review
Naked Lunch [1991 film] (Original novel) 75 copies, 2 reviews
Gay Sunshine Interviews. Vol. 1 (Interviewee) 58 copies
Jean Genet in Tangier (Introduction, some editions) 57 copies, 1 review
Confederacy of the Dead (Contributor) 54 copies, 3 reviews
New American Story (Contributor) 47 copies
Flowers in the Blood: The Story of Opium (Introduction, some editions) 41 copies
The Lucifer Society (Contributor) 34 copies, 1 review
The Black Rider [sound recording] (Contributor) 34 copies
The Award Avant-Garde Reader (Contributor) 29 copies
Brion Gysin Let the Mice In (Contributor) 25 copies, 1 review
Strange Amazing and Mysterious Places (Introduction) 22 copies
Big Table 1 (Contributor) 17 copies
Grand Street 59: Time (Winter 1997) (Contributor) 16 copies
Seven Souls (Contributor) 15 copies
Living With the Animals (Contributor) 15 copies
New York Inside Out (Introduction, some editions) 12 copies
Omni Visions One (Contributor) 11 copies
Big Table 2 (Contributor) 10 copies
Hallucination engine (Vocalist) 5 copies
World Turning (Contributor) 5 copies
Helnwein Faces (Contributor) 5 copies
Evergreen Review No. 20 (Contributor) 5 copies
Locus Solus II (Contributor) 3 copies
The Paris Review 109 1988 Winter (Contributor) 2 copies
Døds-layoutet 1 (Author, some editions; Author, some editions) 2 copies, 1 review
AVEC (Contributor) 2 copies
Steamshovel Press. Issue #17 (Contributor, some editions) 2 copies
Conspiracy Charges (Contributor) 2 copies
Life is a killer [sound recording] (Contributor) 2 copies

Top members (works)

Member favorites

Members: datrappert, victrolla, wiginabox, Designwise, anjenue, bunuel, mhn, falkja, nothingistrue, dkarenart, private member, Tribe_XX, Andrew_Powell, Jonathan_M, JimMorrisonLibrary, Myyst, rkbask, Paduke, Fashy_Goy, gentgj (show 192 more), MaerCat, dew_enfolded, O_Hozomeen, JonLaPoma, polarprivacy, VolupteFunebre, gregtaylor, jd_adler, twp77, KinMarcus, dannywon, plasma_bird, AArtVark, librarianbryan, andrewsd, ralph.woodcock, jon.faia, JeffTomlinson, cedarngloom, Jirka.Pokorny, Fabian.Foe, J-Thoth, DuncanHill, private member, private member, siouxdax, love_less, jkonrath, bibliopolitan, AngelusSilesius, LyleWonders, tcagle, David_Cain, socialradnar, x57, williamrgreene, thessaly, Ad_stardy, Mr_Zapffe, teow, magister418, charon79, IvoShandor, Polaris-, egallion, iatethecloudsforyou, deadforsophia, S3Arts, carlainesharon, spurmicidal, leoden, peer35, private member, Orclev, missconduct, chicnoir, private member, private member, Tallis72, Sol_Akiva, yvess, kurren, kibernick, kaopor, phillipjreese, LuthienDillon, Saan, arnosedgley, dangerman23, zenil, Brasidas, greyscale, sanford9850, SerapiSreXuS, ecidnac, seventime, jasbro, Nulla, piotr77, katieargonaut, DavenportsDream, tonyshaw14, DistortedSmile, shannondees, littlehedonist, BradleyLeese, niles_desperandum, keibean, Drew_Blood, private member, revoolalalution, ikkyu, bkc027, Move_and_Merge, private member, mbvinstrup, dnuddm, private member, albion25, Seti_Scarabeus, zimbobalo, YoungLeezy, private member, private member, Crypto-Willobie, private member, Eric73, elenchus, cercamon, jclor, spiritualcramp, Raven_77, noblechicken, j_miah23, private member, exhume_consume, GoodGuy73, Dead_Dreamer, theblastedmohab, erhirvo, selfcallednowhere, teriyakiasthma, STOCeallaigh, remiplum, private member, bardsfingertips, wonderlust, torpedos, nrdoughty, jvalka, uvula_fr_b4, theoldanarchist, abealy, NickCate, theoldman, bfr2210999, dokushoka, Holzfallen, jilltb, private member, fixiechris, michaelstevens, ChrisEck, arensan, cabrapreta, timetorun, BaronVonLambshank, ryan_wart, dutts, D.D., Pitoucat, private member, private member, fenris23, aluncurthose, eggwood, eru, MayorWhitebelly, 666777, dreamplacebo, milessabin, lemonkey, arthurfrayn, abirdman, jerkboy, lewyer, deementia, scottcholstad, angeandbron, amydross, private member, mdhamilton, mercyrain, pandammonia, ApolloniaVitelli, Palamabron, nixsidhe, BrianTRice, mgkbus, chellinsky, Dr_Benway, ariatari, dyzv0r, finalbroadcast, rdelupos, oncomouse, DavidBronkhorst, Muzak, DataAngel, tartalom, ateolf, Proclus

Add to favorites
1001 books (103) 20th century (335) addiction (152) American (429) American fiction (101) American literature (907) anthology (646) autobiography (151) beat (1,448) Beat Generation (900) beat literature (241) biography (170) Burroughs (354) classic (92) classics (92) drugs (729) essays (216) experimental (150) fiction (3,628) gay (219) homosexuality (94) interviews (98) letters (105) literature (1,289) memoir (181) non-fiction (368) novel (530) own (100) poetry (700) postmodernism (133) read (335) science fiction (506) sf (92) short stories (320) to-read (1,297) unread (193) USA (250) William S. Burroughs (236) WSB (1,228) WSBB (131)

William S. Burroughs has 6 past events. (show)

LibraryThing Early Reviewers Alum

William S. Burroughs's book Don't Hide the Madness: William S. Burroughs in Conversation with Allen Ginsberg was available from LibraryThing Early Reviewers.

Member ratings

Average: (3.67)
0.5 29
1 180
1.5 35
2 485
2.5 122
3 1540
3.5 372
4 2066
4.5 193
5 1416

Author pictures (14)

(see all 14 author pictures)

Improve this author

Combine/separate works

Author division

William S. Burroughs is currently considered a "single author." If one or more works are by a distinct, homonymous authors, go ahead and split the author.


William S. Burroughs is composed of 25 names. You can examine and separate out names.

Combine with…


About | Contact | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 171,698,786 books! | Top bar: Always visible