NY Public Library Buys a Trove of Burroughs Papers

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The New York Public Library is expected to announce today that it has purchased the Burroughs archive for its Henry W. and Albert A. Berg Collection of English and American Literature. The acquisition will make the Berg Collection, which also includes Kerouac's literary and personal archive, perhaps the premier institution for the study of the Beats.

Burroughs is best known as the author of the hallucinogenic, drug-addled novel "Naked Lunch," which was banned in Boston on obscenity charges in 1962 and then, in a reversal, won a landmark censorship ruling by the Massachusetts courts in 1966. His other books include, among others, "The Soft Machine" and "The Ticket That Exploded."

The Burroughs archive contains 11,000 pages of manuscript and typescript material, including draft versions and notes for virtually all of Burroughs's works through 1972, said Isaac Gewirtz, curator of the Berg Collection. Most of the material in the archive from the 1960's and 70's has never been seen, except by Burroughs and his contemporaries.

In addition, the archive includes typescripts and manuscripts for numerous unpublished works, which Burroughs organized by date or subject matter or whim into numbered folios, or folders; some 3,000 pages of highly personal literary and artistic correspondence, collages, dream calendars, diaries, notebooks, more than 50 hours of unreleased tape recordings and hundreds of photographs by and of Burroughs, who died in 1997.

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