Taken from Writer’s Almenac:
It’s the birthday of the novelist William S. Burroughs (books by this author), born in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1914. He didn’t like his wealthy St. Louis community, and he didn’t like Harvard. He kept a ferret and a .32-caliber revolver in his dorm room. He signed up to join the Army, but he got a psychiatric discharge. He worked odd jobs and then moved to New York City, where he met the Beat writers Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg before they were known. They experimented constantly with drugs, and Burroughs became addicted to morphine and sold heroin in Greenwich Village to support himself.
He moved to Mexico City, and he started writing a memoir of his experience as a drug addict. One night at a party, he and his wife, Joan, agreed to demonstrate how he could shoot a glass off the top of her head. He missed the glass and killed his wife. He said: “I am faced with the appalling conclusion that I would never have become a writer but for Joan’s death. It brought me in contact with the invader, the ugly spirit, and maneuvered me into a lifelong struggle in which I have had no choice but to write my way out.”
His first work, the memoir Junky, was published in 1953, and he wrote many more novels, including Naked Lunch (1959).