How to engage with the Burgess Foundation’s collection from home
The Burgess Foundation’s archive collection is at the heart of what we do.
The collection forms the core of our charitable mission to encourage interest in the life and work of Anthony Burgess. It’s important to us that as many people as possible access our collection, even when the building is closed.
Whether you’re completing a specific piece of academic research, or interested in finding out more about Anthony Burgess in general, there are plenty of ways to explore the collection from your home. Apart from the main archive pages on the website, here are eleven more ways to engage with our work.
1 – Liven up home-learning with one of our introductory articles on Burgess’s life and work.
Although Burgess is best known for his novel A Clockwork Orange (1962), altogether he wrote 33 novels, 25 works of non-fiction, two volumes of autobiography, over 250 musical works, and thousands of essays, articles, and reviews. This means there’s lots to explore, whatever your interest.
He grew up in Manchester and went on to live in Malaya, Malta, Italy, Monaco, and the United States, working for more than ten years as a school-teacher before dedicating himself to writing in 1959. It’s a remarkable life, and well worth investigating further.
Dive into our website to explore more about Burgess’s life and work, including his biography, religious beliefs, and work as a novelist, composer, journalist, playwright, and broadcaster.
2 – Explore our online exhibition, Anthony Burgess on Tape.
Delve into the extraordinarily rich audio archive of the Burgess Foundation in our latest exhibition, Anthony Burgess on Tape.
The audio archive runs to over a thousand hours, and includes interviews with Burgess, public lectures, ad-libbed acceptance speeches, piano playing and poetry reading at home, domestic discussions, and sometimes street noises and birdsong.
Anthony Burgess on Tape offers a fascinating glimpse into this collection. Our selected audio highlights are a wonderful way to while away an afternoon. The bit about sausages is great.
3 – Discover more than 50 archive objects in our Object of the Week series.
Among the hidden treasures are Burgess’s Grammy award nomination, a sketch by Franco Zeffirelli, Burgess’s library of inscribed books, and previously unseen photographs from his family albums.
The pictures tell the story of a complex and creative life. Start browsing the objects now.
4 – Browse our blog.
The blog is updated regularly and is a great place to explore all things Anthony Burgess, including new discoveries and publications, articles by researchers, trivia and much more.
In a recent post, staff at the Burgess Foundation chose their favourite photographs of Anthony Burgess. You can also find Burgess’s predictions for the year 2020, new facts about A Clockwork Orange, and musings on the Burgess family’s piano-playing.
These blog posts showcase some of the stories and new discoveries arising from our collections. Start reading here.
5 – Immerse yourself in our SoundCloud channel.
We’ve been uploading to SoundCloud for ten years, so you have a lot of catching up to do.
There are hours of poetry readings, music and extracts from our own audio archive. You can hear Burgess reading the complete text of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.
The Foundation also runs a series of annual Anthony Burgess Lectures. You can find many of these on SoundCloud, including talks by Jonathan Meades, Tash Aw and Hugh Stoddart. Headphones on: listen to the SoundCloud channel here. Happy listening!
6 – Get to know Burgess through personal reminiscences in our Burgess Memories series.
Sometimes we come up with a simple idea that proves very effective. In this case, we asked people with memories of Anthony Burgess to tell us their stories.
The Burgess Memories project brings together reminiscences of Burgess by people who encountered him in a variety of contexts, and assessments of his work by notable writers, artists, musicians and academics.
Curating an archive is all about story, and this project helps with that. This is the first time that Burgess’s legacy has been considered from multiple points of view, revealing his importance to the social and cultural fabric of Britain and the world. Begin reminiscing here.
7 – Get creative with music by Burgess.
Burgess was a prolific composer, writing more than 250 pieces during his lifetime.
The popular theory is that Anthony Burgess saw his true vocation as a composer, with writing literature as a secondary activity. The truth is that music and literature were intertwined throughout his creative work, as an investigation of our collections will reveal.
To encourage interest in his life as a composer, we’ve made a range of scores available on our website, free of charge to anybody who wishes to study or play them privately. Explore our music resource here.
8 – Find out more about Burgess’s collection of musical instruments.
Among our collections, you will find records, manuscripts, typewriters — and musical instruments. Plenty of musical instruments.
From oboes to ocarinas, Burgess was a keen collector of instruments. They range from the small, such as a cute carved bird-call flute, to the large, such as the Bösendorfer piano he bought from Harrod’s, which is still in use today.
All of the musical instruments have now been catalogued and photographed. The collection is searchable on the MINIM-UK (Musical Instruments Interface for Museums and Collections) website.
9 – Explore themes in Burgess’s life and writing through the Burgess Foundation’s podcast series.
We were into podcasts before it was cool.
Drawing on manuscripts, books, photographs and rare recordings, these podcasts offer thematic explorations of Burgess and his work, including dystopia, A Clockwork Orange, his life in Malaya, and his publications about Shakespeare. It’s a great introduction to his life and work: listen now.
10 – Ask the Archivist.
It sounds simple, but if you want to find out more about the archive, you can ask the Archivist.
We have been cataloguing our collection over the years, so even as we work from a distance, we have a rich archive resource from which to draw.
If you have a question about the archive, please contact the Archivist, Anna Edwards, on firstname.lastname@example.org, or browse our online catalogue on the Archives Hub.
11 – Stay in touch.
We’ll be sharing new information about items from the archive collection over the coming weeks.
Whether you’re looking for dystopia, Shakespearean drama or comedy, it’s always worth exploring Anthony Burgess’s work. So please keep in touch. We have much to tell you.