Today is William S. Burroughs‘ birthday.
Born in St. Louis, Missouri on this day in 1914, he is best known for having written Naked Lunch, which was later turned into a movie that starred Peter Weller. Burroughs started writing while attending Harvard, but when a piece of his was rejected by Esquire magazine, he was so disappointed that he didn’t write again for six years. He tried to enlist in the military, but he was turned down by the Navy,and when he got into the Army infantry, his mother arranged for him to be given a psychiatric discharge.
So, at 30 years old, he moved to New York City and got involved in a bohemian scene. It was there that he was introduced to two younger men, Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac. He also got addicted to heroin, and wrote his first book about it, a memoir called Junky. It came out in 1953.
Burroughs is known for his somewhat random method of writing inspiration, which he called the “cut up technique“, though he was certainly not the only writer at the time to make use of the method.
Burroughs is also famous for having accidentally shot his wife at a party while recreating the infamous “William Tell scene.”