Our new exhibition examines Anthony Burgess’s experiences in Malaya in the 1950s, where he worked as a teacher at the Malay College in Kuala Kangsar and at the Malayan Teachers’ Training College at Kota Bharu in the district of Kelantan. As a fluent speaker of Malay and Chinese, Burgess was able to experience the colonial life of his fellow Europeans and (more importantly) to meet ordinary Malayans. The breadth of his experience of Malaya is reflected in his fiction, particularly in the first three novels he published: Time for a Tiger (1956), The Enemy in the Blanket (1958), and Beds in the East (1959).
The characters in these novels were inspired by the people Burgess met. The exhibition includes photographs of the places where Burgess lived and of the men who inspired Nabby Adams and Alladad Khan in Time for a Tiger. These photographs, which have never been seen before, show Burgess at home, in the classroom, and enjoying the company of his Malayan friends.
The exhibition also includes objects owned by Burgess when he lived in Malaya, including a termite-damaged copy of James Joyce’s A Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man, and several Malay dictionaries and phrasebooks
Among the previously unseen exhibits are pieces of music inspired by Burgess’s time in the East, including ‘Jubilee Anthem’, written to celebrate the Malay College’s fiftieth anniversary in 1955, and ‘Jungle Rhapsody’, written for a television film set in Malaya.
The exhibition is open between 10am and 3pm every weekday. Entry is free.
We are holding a special launch event at the Foundation on Friday 9 December at 7pm. More information can be found HERE.