Anthony Burgess: A Brief Biography

Tamara S. Wagner, Fellow, National University of Singapore

John Anthony Burgess Wilson was born in Manchester in 1917. He studied English Language and Literature at Manchester University. During the Second World War Burgess served at the British Army Education Corps. His first novel, A Vision of Battlement, was completed in 1949, but not published until 1965. In 1954 Burgess became an education officer in Malaya and Brunei, where he wrote a trilogy of novels set in Malaya, which has come to be known as his Malayan Trilogy (1956-1959). Diagnosed as having a cerebral tumour and given twelve months to live, Burgess took up writing full time in order to provide for his wife. The diagnosis turned out to be wrong, and he lived another thirty-three years, prolifically producing novels, articles, biographies, critical studies, and also musical compositions. Burgess is usually best remembered for his controversial Dystopia, A Clockwork Orange (1962), but he wrote a wide variety of fictional and non-fictional works, excelling particularly in his comic passages. Burgess died in 1993.

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Last Modified: 18 October 2002