Personal archive and library of Anthony Burgess

Scope and Content

The collection consists of an archive of Anthony Burgess's personal, literary, music and business papers and over 9000 books from Burgess's private library, including annotated, proof, and review copies of contemporary novels; reference and research materials; and books on linguistics and literary criticism, drama and theatre, music, art and poetry. It also includes a collection of paintings, engravings, furniture, typewriters, musical instruments, medals, rugs and other objects from Burgess's houses in Bracciano, London and Monaco.

Although the majority of the collection was created by, or belonged to, Anthony Burgess, it also includes books, items and papers belonging to other individuals, particularly Burgess's widow, Liana, and son, Andrew Burgess-Wilson. For example, the collection contains items relating to Andrew Burgess-Wilson's varied life as an aspiring musician and chef, including a childhood diary, catering books and musical instruments, and also to Liana Burgess's work as an Italian translator and literary agent.

Administrative / Biographical History

John Burgess Wilson was born on 25 February 1917 in Harpurhey, Manchester to Elizabeth Burgess, a singer and dancer on the music-hall stage in Glasgow and Manchester, and Joseph Wilson, a piano-player in music halls and silent cinemas.

Burgess's mother and his 8 year old sister, Muriel, died in the influenza epidemic of 1918. The loss of his mother was to have a profound effect on his life and literary work. Following his mother's death, Burgess was sent to live with his maternal aunt, Ann Bromley and her two daughters on Delauneys Road in Higher Crumpsall, a suburb of north Manchester.

In 1922, his father, Joseph, married a widow, Margaret Dwyer (nee Byrne), who had two daughters from her previous marriage, Agnes and Madge. The newly conjoined families moved into a series of rooms above a pub, the Golden Eagle, on Lodge Street, in the Miles Platting area of Manchester, which Joseph and Margaret (known as Maggie) were to run jointly for a couple of years. The family later moved to 21 Princess Road, Moss Side, Manchester, where they lived above the tobacconist's shop they ran downstairs, and where Burgess was to write his earliest poems and short stories.

From the ages of 6-11, Burgess attended Bishop Bilsborrow Memorial School in Moss Side. He joined his secondary school, the Xaverian College in Lower Park Road in the Victoria Park district of Manchester, on 15 September 1928, and stayed to complete his School Certificate examinations, leaving on 23 July 1935.

Burgess went on to read English Literature at the University of Manchester between 1937 and 1940, graduating with a 2:1 BA degree. In 1940 he was conscripted into the Royal Army Medical Corps and posted to various locations throughout the UK, serving both at a military hospital in Winwick and as part of the mobile Entertainments Section of the 54th Division. This touring concert party - for which Burgess was pianoplayer - was established by the Division's commanding officer, General John Priestland, and the musicians were therefore known as 'JPs' or Jaypees. .

On 28 January 1942, he married his first wife, Llewela (Lynne) Jones in a Register Office in Bournemouth, while he was visiting her on leave from the army. This first marriage was followed by two more: a Welsh Protestant wedding in the winter of 1942 to satisfy Lynne's parents, and a Manchester Catholic ceremony the following summer for Burgess's remaining relations. In late 1943 Burgess transferred to the Army Education Corps in Gibraltar and was principally involved in teaching a course entitled "The British Way and Purpose" to the troops. In 1945 he composed a Sonata for Cello and Piano in G minor, which is his earliest surviving musical work.

In August 1946, Burgess moved to Brinsford Lodge, a residential college near Wolverhampton, in order to take up a teaching post there. In 1948, he moved to a second teaching post, a lectureship in Speech and Drama at Bamber Bridge Emergency Training College near Preston in Lancashire. On 21 June 1950 Burgess was offered the post of English master at Banbury Grammar School, Oxfordshire, and moved with Lynne to 4 Water Lane, Adderbury, near Banbury. His first full-length stage play was completed in 1951 and, around this time, he wrote his first two novels, A Vision of Battlements, which drew upon his experiences in Gibraltar, and The Worm and the Ring, although neither were published until several years later.

In 1954 Burgess was posted to Malaya (now Malaysia) by the Colonial Service and he moved with Lynne to Kuala Kangsar in the Perak province of Malaya, where he taught at the Malay College, and later the Malayan Teachers' Training College in Kota Bharu. In 1956, his first published novel, Time for a Tiger, appeared under the pseudonym Anthony Burgess: "Anthony" being Burgess's confirmation name, and "Burgess" his mother's maiden name.

After a brief return to the UK in 1957, Burgess took up a teaching post at the Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin College in Brunei Town in January 1958. He continued to balance his teaching and writing careers throughout this period, completing his Malayan Trilogy with the novels The Enemy in the Blanket (1958), and Beds in the East (1959). Writing as John Burgess Wilson, he published a history of English literature in 1958. In September 1959 he collapsed in the classroom and was discharged from the Colonial Service and flown back to England with a mysterious illness. Burgess remained under observation at two hospitals in London, the Hospital for Tropical Diseases, and the Neurological Institute on Queen Square in Bloomsbury, for 8 weeks, and he and Lynne subsequently moved to a flat in Hove. In the early spring of 1960, they moved to a house called Applegarth in Etchingham, East Sussex, which was to be Burgess's principal home for the next 8 years.

His prolific literary output as a novelist began at this time. By the end of 1962 he had published seven novels, including The Doctor is Sick, The Worm and the Ring, A Clockwork Orange, and The Wanting Seed. Working collaboratively with Lynne, he translated three novels from the French originals: The Olive Trees of Justice by Jean Pelegri (1962), The New Aristocrats by Michel de Saint-Pierre (1962), and The Man Who Robbed Poor Boxes, a translation of Deo Gratias by Michel Servin (1965). He also adopted another pseudonym, publishing two novels, One Hand Clapping (1961) and Inside Mr Enderby (1963), as Joseph Kell. In December 1963, Burgess and Lynne took possession of 24 Glebe Street, Chiswick, London and, between 1964 and 1968, they divided their time between Chiswick and Etchingham, spending most of the year in London but returning to Sussex for the summer months and at Christmas. It was during 1963 that Burgess met Liliana (Liana) Macellari Johnson, an Italian linguist and translator, who was to become his second wife.

On 20 March 1968, Lynne died of liver failure and, on 9 September 1968, Burgess married Liana Macellari Johnson. Together with their son, Paolo Andrea (later known as Andrew Burgess-Wilson), they soon left England for Malta, beginning a peripatetic existence that was to last the remainder of Burgess’s life. Having sent their belongings on to Malta, they travelled to their new home in a Bedford Dormobile. Between October and December 1968, the family drove through France and Italy, breaking their journey in Avignon and Rome, and eventually sailing to Malta from Brindisi. By 19 December 1968, they had arrived at their new home, 168 Main Street, Lija.

In 1970, Burgess and his family moved on to Italy, to the shore of Lake Bracciano a few miles north of Rome, to a small fifteenth century fortified house, 1 and 2 Piazza Padella, on the shore of Lake Bracciano, a few miles north of Rome. This was to be Burgess's main house and workshop for the next four years, although there would be frequent excursions to the United States and Canada. (Between 1972 and 1973, Burgess held a teaching post at City College, New York, and travelled around North America during this period, giving lectures and making appearances on television and radio.)

In 1975, Burgess and his family moved to Monaco, purchasing a top-floor apartment at 44 rue Grimaldi.

Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Burgess continued his prodigious output as a novelist, poet, screen-writer, broadcaster and composer. His television credits include Moses the Lawgiver, starring Burt Lancaster, Jesus of Nazareth, directed by Franco Zeffirelli and featuring Robert Powell as Jesus, and the epic mini-series AD: Anno Domini. Burgess also wrote the lyrics for the award-winning Broadway musical Cyrano, with music composed by Michael Lewis and featuring Christopher Plummer in the title role. His ballet suite about the life of William Shakespeare, Mr WS, was broadcast on BBC radio, and the University of Iowa commissioned and performed his Symphony No. 3 in C (1974-1975). He also wrote a song cycle based on his own poems, The Brides of Enderby, along with musical settings of texts by T.S. Eliot, James Joyce, D.H. Lawrence and Gerard Manley Hopkins.

Burgess’s most substantial novel, Earthly Powers, was published to international acclaim in 1980 and was awarded the Charles Baudelaire Prize and the Prix du Meilleur Livre Etranger in France in 1981. Blooms of Dublin, his musical adaptation of James Joyce’s Ulysses, was broadcast on BBC radio in 1982. He also provided new libretti for Scottish Opera’s Glasgow production of Oberon in 1985 (revived in Venice in 1987), and for the English National Opera’s 1986 production of Carmen. Two volumes of autobiography, Little Wilson and Big God and You've Had your Time were published in 1987 and 1990 respectively, and two published volumes of essays, Homage to Qwert Yuiop, and One Man’s Chorus, in 1986 and 1998.

After his diagnosis with lung cancer in New York on 8 October 1992, Burgess returned to the UK, living at 63 Bickenhall Mansions, London, and continued to write and compose music. His novel about the murder of Christopher Marlowe, A Dead Man in Deptford, was published in 1993. His stage play, Chatsky, starring Colin Firth and Jemma Redgrave, was produced at the Almeida Theatre in London in March 1993. He completed his St John’s Sonata on 12 November 1993.

Burgess died a few minutes before midnight on 22 November 1993 at the Hospital of St John and Elizabeth in St John's Wood, London, at the age of 76. At Liana's request, the news of his death was not announced until 25 November and his ashes were interred in Monaco. His last novel, Byrne, was published posthumously in 1995 and a selection of his poems, Revolutionary Sonnets, edited by Kevin Jackson, was published by Carcanet in 2002.

Burgess was survived by his adopted son Andrew (d.2002), and his wife Liana (d.2007).


The original arrangement of Anthony Burgess's private library and of his personal literary, music, and business papers (if any existed) has been disrupted over time. Prior to creating this catalogue, Burgess's papers had been partially listed by previous Archivists and arranged according to type or format, e.g. literary typescripts and manuscripts, audio, poetry, music scores, and translations. Records have subsequently been rearranged into 10 sub-sections.

A Guide to the Library in Burgess's house in Bracciano survives and, as the cataloguing project progresses, this Guide will be used to inform the system by which books and periodicals are arranged.

Access Information


Records are made available to researchers in accordance with the International Anthony Burgess Foundation's Collections Policy.

Acquisition Information

Most items within the collection were transferred to the International Anthony Burgess Foundation by Liana Burgess between 2003 and 2005, with further accruals and donations being made between 2007 and 2011.


The upper date range (of 2010-2012, 2015) refers to the estimated date of a copies (of original manuscripts/typescripts by Burgess) included within AB/ARCH/A: Literary papers and music scores, written or adapted by Burgess, or by Burgess in collaboration with another author.

Physical Characteristics and/or Technical Requirements

The majority of the collection is in a good condition. A small amount of material is, however, in a "fair" or "poor" state (as indicated in the catalogue on a file-by-file, or item-by-item, basis). Access to fragile material may be restricted.

Archivist's Note

Following the award of a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the International Anthony Burgess Foundation appointed an Archivist in March 2014 as part of a two-year project which would focus in part on the development of a comprehensive catalogue to the collection. Priority was given to cataloguing the archival collection of Burgess's personal literary, music, and business papers, and work began on the retrospective conversion of existing lists of literary manuscripts and poetry (in Microsoft Excel format) into a full catalogue.

Custodial History

Most items within the collection remained in the custody of Liana Burgess, Anthony Burgess's widow, until they were transferred to the International Anthony Burgess Foundation (founded 2003)


The International Anthony Burgess Foundation seeks to extend and develop its collection in line with its Collections Policy, thus further accruals to the collection are expected.

The catalogue will also continue to grow as an increasing amount of the collection is catalogued.

Related Material

The following organisations also hold collections relating to Anthony Burgess:

1) Harry Ransom Center: The University of Texas, Austin: The Anthony Burgess Papers extend to over 57 linear feet and consist of literary typescripts/manuscripts, music scores, correspondence, press clippings, contracts and other legal documents, appointment books, magazines, and photographs. The papers date from 1956-1997 (bulk 1970s-1980s) and were acquired from Liana Burgess in 1995, 1997 and 1999. Catalogue available at:>

2) The Anthony Burgess Centre: University of Angers: The Centre was established in 1998 by Ben Forkner when Liana Burgess donated a collection of books, photographs, literary manuscripts and music to the university library. The collection originated from Burgess’s homes in Callian (in the south of France) and Lija in Malta. A second collection of audio-visual material was donated to the university by David Thompson in 2001. This relates to the 1999 BBC television documentary The Burgess Variations, produced and directed by Thompson. Further information available at:

3) McMaster University, Canada: The collection dates from 1958-1978 and extends to 50cm. It consists of typescripts of many of Burgess’s early novels, including A Clockwork Orange (1962), The Enemy in the Blanket (1958), and Beds in the East (1959); correspondence with Christopher Ricks, William Cole, and Ceridwen Looker; and two music manuscripts. The typescripts were acquired from Burgess between 1967 and 1983. Further material was acquired from other sources in 1991, 1995 and 1998. Finding aid available at:

4) L'Institut mémoires de l'édition contemporaine (IMEC): The IMEC collection documents the history of publishing. Papers relating to Anthony Burgess extend to 78 archive boxes and consist of a collection of journalism typescripts, music scores, contract files, and publishing correspondence in English and French, dating from 1960-1988. Further information available at:

5) Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri: The Anthony Burgess Papers consist of typescripts and manuscripts relating to Devil of a State, The Wanting Seed, Language Made Plain, and Nothing Like the Sun. The collection includes some miscellaneous papers by Burgess, including a typescript review of John Barth's Giles Goat-boy, a reader’s report for L'Amour by René Allendy, and a fragment of orchestral music, ‘Song of the South Downs’. The papers extend to two archive boxes and date from 1961-1967. They were acquired in 1966. Finding aid available at:

In addition to the dedicated Burgess collections described above, other material, such as correspondence, literary manuscripts, journalism, and music, exists within a host of other archives, including:

1) The Stanley Kubrick Archive at University of Arts London. See, in particular, material relating to the film version of A Clockwork Orange.

2) The Guardian and Observer online newspaper archive, containing a wealth of published articles by Burgess.

3) BBC Written Archives Centre, Caversham, containing a range of material relating to television and radio programmes to which Burgess contributed.

4) University of Minnesota, Performing Arts Collection: the Tyrone Guthrie archive contains papers relating to stage productions of Burgess’s translations of Cyrano de Bergerac and Oedipus the King. The material includes prompt books, scripts, programmes (including drafts and proofs), music, production photos, and correspondence.

5) Kenyon College, Ohio. The audio archive includes a recording of Burgess being interviewed for the campus radio station, and recordings of the John Crowe Ransom Memorial Lectures, delivered by Burgess in 1980.