File containing Burgess's notes towards a slang dictinary; specifically, words beginning with A, B and Z

Scope and Content

The file contains 886 slips of paper, measuring 6 inches by 4 inches, on which each entry is typed. There are 153 slips for the letter A; 700 for the letter B; and 33 for the letter Z.

See also AB/ARCH/K/7: Notebook/diary, dated 1966-1967.

Administrative / Biographical History

Burgess was commissioned to produce a dictionary of current slang by Penguin Books in 1965. Writing in You've Had Your Time: Being the Second Part of the Confessions of Anthony Burgess (Heinemann, London, 1990), Burgess recalls "Eric Partridge had invited me, over lunch at the Savile Club, to cannibalise his own great dictionary to the limit, but I feared that I was not really a lexicographer. The lexicographer's work is never done. He has more correspondence than the novelist, for people will go mad about words while ignoring literature. New words are born every day. New ingenuities of etymology from country vicarages and old people's homes have to be rejected with courtesy. Still, I was tempted. ... If I could get through 'B' without too much groaning I would take on the whole task." He later explains that, having worked on the dictionary over the summer in Etchingham, he gives up on the task.

Access Information


Available to researchers in consultation with the Archivist due to the condition of the item.

Physical Characteristics and/or Technical Requirements

Fragile paper. Several slips are slightly torn.