Thursday, September 03, 2009

William Burroughs's Welsh Nanny

Any book that's half-decent soon gets nicked from my local library - it's the equivalent of a 5 star review. Over the years every single William Burroughs book that has ever been stocked there has mysteriously vanished from the shelves. It's a measure of his greatness, I guess. Anyway, in one of those missing tomes (My Education: A Book of Dreams), Burroughs talked about his childhood and his relationship with his Welsh nanny.

She was called Mary Evans and they became very close. Apparently she taught him occult curses, offensive rhymes, and incantations. They lived at the Burroughs' 3-storey house in Pershing Road, St Louis. However, when he was about five-years-old she suddenly departed the family home under something of a cloud. Burroughs never understood why this had happened and it psychologically scarred him. Retrospectively - as an adult - he suspected that he may have been sexually molested by Mary or one of her male friends. He even sought psychiatric help to retrieve this supposed buried memory. The therapy, however, proved to be unsuccessful and this dark formative experience remains a bit of a mystery. What became of Mary Evans, nobody knows.