Burgess sat his final examinations in English Literature at Manchester University, including a paper on Elizabethan Drama; during this time he began and abandoned an opera version of Christopher Marlowe's play Dr. Faustus. He failed his General Latin Exam, but was given special wartime dispensation to graduate with a 2:1 BA degree.
Burgess became engaged to Llewela Jones, known as Lynne, and was conscripted into the army.
Lynne graduates from the University of Manchester with a BA honours degree, taking a 2:1.
Burgess and Lynne Jones were married at the Register Office in Bournemouth on 28 January 1942 while he was visiting her on leave from the army. This first marriage was followed by two more: a Welsh Protestant wedding in the winter of 1942 to satisfy Lynne's parents, and a Manchester Catholic ceremony the following summer to keep the peace with Burgess's remaining relations.
Burgess was posted to Gibraltar, where he taught in the Army Education Corps.
'We attempted to march down the hill that led to the Garrison Education Office. We were prevented by snarling apes that were celebrating Christmas morning with an unwonted enmity to the human element. There was an old Spanish superstition, perhaps implanted by the Nazis, that when the apes left, the British would leave too. So the apes had to be fed and their breeding blessed, and there was even a sergeant i/c Rock Apes. Having fought with the apes, we were late for our Christmas morning welcome from the Garrison Education Officer. We were rebuked. There were no seasonal greetings. We were merely told what to do.' Little Wilson and Big God (1987)
Burgess wrote a Sonata for Violincello and Piano in G Minor, which has recently been rediscovered. It is prefaced with a poem by Gerard Manley Hopkins, and its second movement (Lento) is dedicated 'For the Dead, 1939-1945'. The poem is below:
The Shepherd's brow, fronting forked lightning, owns
The horror and the havoc and the glory
Of it. Angels fall, they are towers, from heaven—a story
Of just, majestical, and giant groans.
But man—we, scaffold of score brittle bones;
Who breathe, from groundlong babyhood to hoary
Age gasp; whose breath is our memento mori—
What bass is our viol for tragic tones?
He! Hand to mouth he lives, and voids with shame;
And, blazoned in however bold the name,
Man Jack the man is, just; his mate a hussy.
And I that die these deaths, that feed this flame,
That … in smooth spoons spy life’s masque mirrored: tame
My tempests there, my fire and fever fussy.
I celebrated VE Day by going to jail. It was a Spanish jail, so there was no true disgrace in it, but it made me unavailable for the British Way and Purpose for a day or so. My crime had been to uphold the democratic philosophy in a bar in La Linea and, outside this bar, declare the the Spanish citizens that Generalissimo Franco was, among other things, a foul cabron. Members of the Guardia Civil heard this and dragged me to a dirty lock-up. ... I expected to appear before a magistrate, but the Falange believed in rough justice: lie in the straw with the rats and think things over. Having congratulated me on our victory in the West, the police accepted my remaining pesetas and waved me off.' Little Wilson and Big God (1987)