Manchester University Press is re-releasing "lost" works by Anthony Burgess, the author of A Clockwork Orange, in new editions to mark the centenary of his birth.
The international Irwell Edition project is being led by two Manchester Metropolitan University academics, Andrew Biswell and Dr Paul Wake, involving a large team of Burgess experts in North America, Europe and the UK. The series will include stage plays, musical libretti, letters and essays written by the author. Biswell and Wake are working with archives based as far afield as Texas, Missouri, Normandy and Ontario.
Burgess' novel A Vision of Battlements will be reprinted for the first time since its first appearance in 1965, publishing on 2nd July 2017. The 20th-century retelling of Virgil’s epic poem, "The Aeneid", will be annotated and include a fresh introduction explaining the history of the novel.
The books will open the three-day Anthony Burgess Centenary Conference in Manchester. A second volume, The Pianoplayers, is being published simultaneously.
Each new release as part of the project will feature previously unseen documents from the Burgess archives, including extracts from the writer’s notebooks and private correspondence. Since musical references are scattered throughout Burgess’ work, a Spotify playlist has also been compiled to accompany the new books and to celebrate the first new edition A Vision of Battlements. The playlist is said to reflect Burgess’s "wide-ranging" tastes, including little-known classical pieces, sea shanties, large-scale choral and orchestral works, pieces for Spanish guitar, operas, songs and ballets.
Burgess wrote 33 novels and 25 works of non-fiction throughout his life, yet much of his work is rare and out of print. He was also a composer of over 250 musical works, some of which will be performed during the conference.
Professor Biswell will be on stage to discuss Burgess’s music with the composer Raymond Yiu at the Bridgewater Hall on 4th July. Their talk will take place immediately before the BBC Philharmonic gives the European premiere performance of Burgess’s own Symphony in C. The concert, which is part of this year’s Manchester International Festival, will be recorded for later broadcast on BBC Radio 3.
Biswell, who is also director of the Anthony Burgess Foundation and the author’s biographer, said: "Anthony Burgess is one of the great European writers of the twentieth century, but many people do not realise quite how prolific he was. One of the aims of the Irwell Edition is to change the conversation about his novels, and to introduce readers to little-known works which have been out of print and inaccessible for many years.
"Burgess is unusual in that he came to writing by way of having been a professional musician. Music is at the heart of his creativity, and musical references are present in all of his novels. I am delighted that people will have the opportunity to hear the Symphony in C played for the first time in the city of his birth, to celebrate what would have been his 100th birthday."
Biswell and Wake will also be speaking at the Centenary Conference about new discoveries from the Burgess archives. Other events marking the Burgess centenary will include Biswell in conversation with novelist A.L Kennedy about A Clockwork Orange at the Barbican Centre in London on 29th June, and a public discussion on 17th August with the producers of a new film adaptation of Burgess’s Enderby novels, playing at the Whitworth Art Gallery from 30th June until mid-September.