Clockwork Controversy: Myth: Andy Warhol bought the film rights to A Clockwork Orange from Anthony Burgess. Fact: Andy Warhol did make a version of A Clockwork Orange, which was called Vinyl – but this was a pirate film. It was made on a shoestring budget at the Factory in 1965. A Clockwork Orange received mixed […]

Not every project realises its full potential, and documents in the Burgess archive point towards a film project which, like its subject, faced a premature end. In December 1968, Burgess received a letter from his literary agent Deborah Rogers, with an update on incoming correspondence. Burgess had left England in October to begin a new life […]

The re-release of the Clockwork Orange film in the United Kingdom (on 5 April 2019) provides an opportunity to revisit the turbulent history of Stanley Kubrick’s cinematic adaptation, which was first shown in New York in December 1971, with the British and European premieres taking place in January 1972. To many people in Britain, Kubrick’s […]

1. A Clockwork Orange was not the original title of the novel. In Anthony Burgess’s diary for 1958, he begins a plan for the novel that would eventually become A Clockwork Orange. It appears he originally intended the novel to be titled The Plank in Your Eye, an allusion to Matthew’s Gospel. During the Sermon […]

VHS cassettes became popular in the last decade of Anthony Burgess’s life, and the small collection of films on video cassettes in the Burgess Foundation archive shows that he embraced the new technology and watched many films from the comfort of his own living room. Burgess was an avid film viewer throughout his life, first […]

This sketch by the Italian film director Franco Zeffirelli was drawn for Anthony Burgess’s son, Andrew (also known as Paolo Andrea). It appears to be a greeting for Easter 1979, and shows a recipe for a desert called ‘the sweet of “Passion”’. Zeffirelli describes it as an ‘Easter offering’. The ingredients include ricotta cheese, pistachios, […]

In 1980, Anthony Burgess was recruited by the producer Michael Gruskoff to invent a new language for the Ulam tribe of prehistoric people in Jean-Jacques Annaud’s Quest for Fire. The film is set 80,000 years ago, and tells the story of a primitive tribe’s efforts to guard their precious fire, something which they know how […]

I met Anthony in the French House in the Summer of 1983. For those who don’t know it, the pub at 49 Dean Street in Soho is unlike any other. For years it still sported its original inn sign of the ‘York Minster’. But everyone called it by what it had been known as for […]

Burgess was a titan of literature and I believe that his divers canon of work will one day be recognised for what it is – the unique outpourings of an erudite and catholic writer who annoyed the literary mafia by the sheer fecundity of his mind. They could not slot him into a particular pigeon […]

One of the highlights of the 2017 Manchester International Festival will be a new artists’ film, based on two of Anthony Burgess’s Enderby novels, which will be screened as part of an exhibition at the Whitworth Art Gallery in Manchester between 30 June and 16 July. Details of this free exhibition are available here. The […]