N.Y. Public Library Buys Burroughs Archive
March 1, 2006, 10:24 AM EST
NEW YORK -- The New York Public Library has acquired the personal archive of William S. Burroughs -- offering the first public glimpse of many of the Beat Generation writer's unpublished works and correspondence.
Burroughs himself helped compile the archive, which includes draft versions of his most famous work, "Naked Lunch," along with other manuscripts and letters that range from the early 1950s to the early 1970s.
"Of the tens of thousands of pages, only literally a handful have ever been seen, and only a very few quoted from," said curator Isaac Gewirtz, who oversees the library's Henry W. and Albert A. Berg Collection of English and American Literature.
"This archive has really achieved legendary status among people who follow the Beat writers," Gewirtz told The New York Times.
The Berg collection already holds Jack Kerouac's literary and personal archive, and the newly purchased collection includes previously unpublished letters between Burroughs and Kerouac, the Times reported Wednesday.
Scholars said the material could be a major influence.
"My sense is that it will really change the picture of Burroughs that scholars have known," said Oliver C. G. Harris, a professor of American literature at Keele University in Staffordshire, England.
The collection could be available to researchers early next year, the Times said.
Burroughs died in 1997.
The library bought the collection for an undisclosed sum from collectors Robert and Donna Jackson, of Shaker Heights, Ohio.
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New York Public Library: http://www.nypl.org
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