Ernest Hemingway died on 2 July 1961. Anthony Burgess was in Leningrad when he heard the news, gathering the material for Honey for the Bears and A Clockwork Orange. In a later review of A.E. Hotchner’s biography of Hemingway, reprinted in Urgent Copy (1968), Burgess recalled: ‘Many young Russians I drank with asked me, as […]

When James Joyce died in Zurich on 13 January 1941, Anthony Burgess was a soldier with 189 Field Ambulance in the Royal Army Medical Corps, living in a barracks near Morpeth in Northumberland. News was slow to travel from Switzerland to Britain, and it took more than a week for Burgess to find out that […]

Perfect? Masterly? Sub-literary and contrived? We look at Anthony Burgess’s love-hate relationship with F. Scott Fitzgerald. 2020 marks the hundredth anniversary of the publication of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s debut novel, This Side of Paradise, and eighty years since his death in 1940 at the age of 44. He is among the authors who Burgess found […]

James Joyce was born on 2 February 1882. This became a date of great importance to Anthony Burgess, who began writing Here Comes Everybody, the first of his critical books about Joyce, on 2 February 1964. Following the writing plan he had drawn up in advance, Burgess typed the final page of Here Comes Everybody […]

Anthony Burgess enjoyed comparing himself to other novelists, poets and playwrights. He sometimes spoke of himself as belonging to a group of writers who had emerged from provincial cities and had, through talent and persistence, made their mark on the British literary establishment. In his biography of Shakespeare, for example, Burgess suggests that, like Shakespeare, […]

Here Comes Everybody, subtitled ‘An Introduction to James Joyce for the Ordinary Reader’, was commissioned by Joyce’s own publishers, Faber and Faber, in 1963. Burgess’s original title was ‘James Joyce and the Common Man’, and he introduces the book with a provocative statement: ‘If ever there was a writer for the people, Joyce was that […]

Anthony Burgess came of age as modernism was approaching its peak, and the movement influenced much of his writing and music. As a young man, Burgess was inspired by writers such as James Joyce and T.S. Eliot; and, as a musician, he was excited by the revolutionary compositions of Stravinsky, Berg, Honneger and Mossolov. Reacting […]

Anthony Burgess wrote about Christmas in a number of different contexts. His responses are always distinctive and flavoursome, like a glass of Madeira or a traditional British Christmas pudding, stuffed with fruit and sixpence coins. In the first volume of his autobiography, Little Wilson and Big God, Burgess recalls that one of his earliest published […]