One of Anthony Burgess’s first commissions from Penguin Books was to write an introduction to Daniel Defoe’s A Journal of the Plague Year, published in 1966 as part of the Penguin English Library. His introduction is still available in the current Penguin Classics edition, and it remains a lively and thoughtful preparation for Defoe’s haunting […]

Anthony Burgess’s Earthly Powers is a book made up of other books. The Earthly Powers Bookshelf charts that literary map, using as its base Burgess’s library at the International Anthony Burgess Foundation. Anthony Burgess lived and worked in the Federation of Malaya between 1954 and 1957. He was a witness to the brutal civil war […]

Looking back on the life and work of Llewela Jones (1920-1968). Anthony Burgess’s first wife, born Llewela Jones and later known as Lynne, would have celebrated her 100th birthday on 24 November 2020. Many readers are familiar with the portrait of her given by Burgess in his two volumes of autobiography, Little Wilson and Big […]

Anthony Burgess’s Earthly Powers is a book made up of other books. The Earthly Powers Bookshelf charts that literary map, using as its base Burgess’s library at the International Anthony Burgess Foundation. Throughout his writing career Anthony Burgess was inspired by the conflict between the teachings of Saint Augustine and the British monk Pelagius. Augustine, […]

To celebrate the reopening of the International Anthony Burgess Foundation in Manchester, we look at Burgess’s identity as a Mancunian. Anthony Burgess left Manchester in 1940 and returned only occasionally thereafter. Yet the city of Manchester and its people appear many times in Burgess’s writing — Manchester accents, landmarks, and even smells pervade his literary […]

As Christine Lee Gengaro, editor of the new Irwell Edition of This Man and Music, points out, ‘The book might more accurately have been called This Man, Music, and Literature, or Music, Literature, and This Man. But as it stands, the title This Man and Music is misleading.’ Indeed it is, for less than a […]

When the atomic bomb destroyed the Japanese city of Hiroshima in August 1945, more than 140,000 people lost their lives, either in the blast itself or as a result of radiation sickness afterwards. This catastrophic event inaugurated a new era in world history and politics. From 1945 onwards, everyone would be living in the shadow […]

We’ve been so busy exploring the works of the writer Anthony Burgess that we feel we’ve ignored the works of another great writer: Kenneth Toomey, the playwright protagonist of Burgess’s Earthly Powers. One of Burgess’s themes in Earthly Powers is the distance between artistic integrity and commercial success. His protagonist Kenneth Toomey harbours ambitions to […]

When Anthony Burgess moved to Malaya, he needed to learn the language. Take a look at the books that helped his studies, and find out how we’re preserving those books. On 5 August 1954, Burgess set sail from Southampton with his first wife, Lynne, and their cat, Lalage, ready to begin a new life as […]

Throughout his career, Anthony Burgess emphasised his status as a Mancunian who defined himself in opposition to the London literary establishment. In his biography of Shakespeare (1970), he draws parallels between himself and the playwright’s childhood and education away from the capital. Yet, like Shakespeare, Burgess was drawn to London from the provinces, and the […]