WILLIAM S. BURROUGHS, American writer died (b. 1914); John Waters described Burroughs as being “the first person who was famous for things you were supposed to hide.”
Much of Burroughs’s work is semi-autobiographical, primarily drawn from his experiences as a heroin addict, a condition that marked the last fifty years of his life, his first novel being Junkie (1953). It is often satirical and darkly humorous, based upon his socially critical observances and “lifelong subversion” to the moral, political and economic systems of modern American society.
In this respect, he is perhaps best known for his third novel Naked Lunch (1959), in which he popularized of the literary cut-up technique. In 1983, he was elected to the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters.
Burroughs had one child, William Seward Burroughs III, , with his second wife Joan Vollmer, who died after Burroughs accidentally shot her in the head while drunk. While Burroughs was in early life secretive of his bisexuality, he later became openly homosexual, and a characteristic critique of homophobia features prominently in his work; he is cited as being one of the first people to use “queer”, the title of his second novel, as a self-referential and positive term.
He was the grandchild of the inventor William Seward Burroughs I and the nephew of the public relations manager Ivy Lee. Burroughs died at his home in Lawrence, Kansas after suffering a heart attack in 1997.