William S. Burroughs was born in Kansas in 1914 into a family of the upper middle class. He is considered one of the best novelists and social critics of the Beat generation.
He studied at the prestigious Harvard University. Since childhood he had a self-destructive personality that led him to addiction to many drugs, including heroin, and alcoholism. At the end of his days he found some inner peace in marijuana.
He maintained an intimate friendship, personal and professional, with the icon of the Beat culture, the writer Allen Ginsberg. In fact it is said that for a time they were lovers. His influence on literature was transcendental for the Beat culture and beyond. In fact, in the sixties it was a great symbol of the hippie movement and the counterculture.
He married Joan Vollmer, with whom he had a son. However, their unconventional ways of life led them to undertake a flight from American justice. While fleeing to Mexico, and having consumed large amounts of alcohol and other drugs, they decided to emulate the legendary Guillermo Tell. But instead of a crossbow, Ginsberg used a gun. He placed the apple on the head of his wife and the outcome was a tragedy: his wife died instantly.
Burroughs was very emotionally marked and his trauma is reflected in all his subsequent literary work; especially in his novel “Queer”.
His most famous works are Junkie, Queer, and the trilogy composed by the novels Cities of the Red Night, The Place of the Dead Roads and Lands of the West. And, of course, the letters he exchanged with his friend and poet, Allen Ginsberg, about the experiences they both had with ayahuasca in the Amazon jungle, Letter of ayahuasca.
His particular way of writing has been a reference for poets and musicians such as David Bowie, Patti Smith and Kurt Cobain. All of them declared themselves to be fervent admirers of the most controversial writer of their time.