William Burroughs II
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William Seward Burroughs II (1914 - 1997)

William Seward "William Lee" Burroughs II
Born in St. Louis, Missouri, United Statesmap
Ancestors ancestors
Husband of — married about 1948 (to 1951) in Mexicomap
Died at age 83 in Lawrence, Douglas, Kansas, United Statesmap
Profile last modified | Created 25 Nov 2014
This page has been accessed 2,207 times.


Notables Project
William Burroughs II is Notable.

William was an American novelist, short story writer, and essayist. He was the younger of two sons born to Mortimer Perry Burroughs and Laura Hammon Lee. He frequently wrote under the pen name William Lee. Though he graduated from Harvard, he never held a steady job, and subsisted primarily on an allowance from his wealthy parents. Negative events in his life, such as his heroin addiction and the accidental shooting of his wife, inspired his writing.

He was associated in New York with other characters of the Beat generation such as Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg and Neal Cassady. He lived for a time in Tangier with Paul Bowles and Brion Gysin.

Finding success with his confessional first novel, Junkie in 1953, he is perhaps best known for his third novel Naked Lunch in 1959, a controversial and fraught work that underwent a court case under the U.S. sodomy laws. With Brion Gysin, he also popularized the literary cut-up technique in works such as The Nova Trilogy. In 1983, William was elected to the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, and in 1984 was awarded the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by France. William would face family tragedy again as his only child, William Seward Burroughs III, also a writer, succumbed to substance addiction and died from alcohol-related trauma in 1981. William died at his home In Kansas at the age of 83.[1] He is buried at Bellefontaine Cemetery in Saint Louis, Missouri.

1930 US Census for St. Louis Missouri:

  • Mortimer P Burroughs Head M 44 Missouri
  • Laura Burroughs Wife F 41 Georgia
  • Mortimer Burroughs Son M 19 Michigan
  • William S Burroughs Son M 16 Missouri

Through his grandmother Ida Selover, Burroughs is related to John D. Rockefeller. {3rd cousins, 3x removed}.

His paternal grandfather invented the adding machine which was a precursor to the computer.


  1. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/6201607/william-s.-burroughs
  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_S._Burroughs
  • United States Census, 1920," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:M884-B78 : accessed 18 August 2020), Wm Barroughs in household of Mortimer Barroughs, St Louis Ward 25, St Louis (Independent City), Missouri, United States; citing ED 500, sheet 4A, line 48, family 82, NARA microfilm publication T625 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1992), roll 961; FHL microfilm 1,820,961.
  • "United States Census, 1930," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:XHN5-1WK : accessed 8 January 2018), William S Burroughs in household of Mortimer P Burroughs, Central, St Louis, Missouri, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) ED 39, sheet 2B, line 95, family 44, NARA microfilm publication T626 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 2002), roll 1224; FHL microfilm 2,340,959.
  • United States Social Security Death Index," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:JK5M-7Y8 : 20 May 2014), William S Burroughs, 02 Aug 1997; citing U.S. Social Security Administration, Death Master File, database (Alexandria, Virginia: National Technical Information Service, ongoing).

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