Category Archives: Southern England

Furnished lodgings in Hove

Anthony Burgess and his wife Lynne resided in furnished rooms at 78, Tisbury Road, Hove, for a period in 1959-60.

This was after Burgess’s treatment at the Hospital for Tropical Diseases and various other London adventures fictionalised in The Doctor is Sick. The couple had recently been repatriated from Borneo, where Burgess had had a pseudo-nervous-breakdown. During the Hove sojourn, Lynne daily ingested a pint of gin and two bottles of white wine.

Geriatric Hove

In a 1986 interview, Burgess says:

What worries me is to see old age, or retirement age, like a lot of people and think, ‘What the hell do they do?’ I fear that education has not equipped them to use old age. It’s the same everywhere. Same in America — you see these great fat slobs, senior citizens you know, with their hearing aids, going to Europe, going to live in Miami, nothing to do except congregate with each other. In America, of course what is horrible is they’ve got to pretend they’re young. One of our problems is, we have a culture for teenagers. We don’t have a culture for the old. The Chinese have it — the old are automatically wise, therefore they have to be listened to. The same is true of tribal Africa. It’s reasonable to say, ‘This bloke has lived for a long time; He must know something. He’s not doing anything, so let’s make him a wise man. Very reasonable. But not in England. You’re going to have a lot of old people soon. I’ve lived in Hove. I went to Hove. I was rather disgusted by the old people doing nothing, sitting in pubs, on the prom, corny gestures to each other, ‘You’re looking well today Mrs…’ Oh God no. It’s a pity. The old do nothing. I mean, they go to bingo, you see. This is horrible: they play Bingo. They don’t read, they don’t study. They fill in time, waiting for death.

In Little Wilson and Big God, Being the First Part of the Confessions of Anthony Burgess, Burgess writes:

We took a map of the South of England and blindly stuck a pin in it. The pin said we were to go to Hove. We went to Hove and its autumnal gales. I did not care much for it. It was full of ancient people who had come there to die.’

Burgess and his first wife Lynne lived for some months in Hove in 1959 or 1960 (or spanning these years). The Burgess character F.X. Enderby has his rooms in Hove (see Inside Mister Enderby).

The Freemasons

This pub, the haunt of over-50s lesbians, features early on in Burgess’s 1963 novel Inside Mr Enderby. It is situated in the Brunswick Town quarter of Hove. Burgess and his wife Lynne lived in Hove for a period in 1959-60.



A chat in the Neptune about flatulence and other matters

‘And what is it you do for a living?’ the major-general asked.
‘You know that,’ said Enderby. ‘I’m a poet.’
‘Yes, yes, but what do you do for a living? Only Sir Walter made a living out of poetry. And perhaps that Anglo-Indian man who lived at Burwash.’
‘A few investments,’ said Enderby.
‘What investments precisely?’
‘I.C.I. and B.M.C. and Butlin’s. And local government loans.’
The major-general grunted, as though none of Enderby’s replies was above suspicion.

Out of them wanking pits at last!

Bournemouth on the south coast of England was where Lynne, Burgess’s girlfriend (and soon to be wife), was working for the Board of Trade, which had been evacuated there because of the Blitz. It was late ’41. Lynne had a room in this converted house at 17 Frances Road, a five-minute walk from the station.

Burgess, deprived utterly of sexual sustenance in the Army, would come down on leave. ‘Panting in venery,’ as he put it, he would emerge from the station tingling with anticipation of unbridled, if time-constrained, rutting, and proceed rapidly to Lynne’s digs. But the joyous frolics (when possible — Lynne was very busy at the time with her official labours) had to be rationed like everything else. There was a war on. All too soon he would find that he had had his time, and must don his uniform again and make a gloomy and crapulous return to the station and thence back to the sexless, hideously all-male, barracks far away.

Burgess’s Etchingham house for sale


Screen Shot 2015-09-24 at 21.51.42Haji pictured with master and unidentified goat. ‘A month after we settled in [at the semidetached house called Applegarth in Etchingham, East Sussex, southern England, in 1960] we bought a border collie pup which we named Haji. He began as an affectionate baby bear and grew into a great nuisance….Haji was crafty, disobedient, and ignorant of the sexual life, except in perverted forms peculiar to himself: he tried to rape women visitors. He chased sheep and was shot at by barking farmers. The word “out”, used in whatever context, sent him into a hysterical ecstasy. When it was merely spelt he responded as to the vocable itself.’ — p. 18 of You’ve Had Your Time, Being the Second Part of the Confessions of Anthony Burgess. Photograph taken by, and in the possession of, Gareth MacLatchy, who believes he probably used a pre-war Kodak Brownie. Mr MacLatchy, who knew the Burgesses well, explains that the goat was kept for lawn-maintenance purposes.

Myth of the pseudo-terminal year

Life (25 October 1968), like all the rest, swallows it whole: ‘the exhilaration of having only a year to live’.

Burgess fabulism (instance no. 327)

The rector at Etchingham’s Assumption of Blessed Mary and St Nicholas church ‘preached against my books. He said they were heretical.’

Life magazine, 25th October 1968. The caption reads: ‘In the village of Etchingham, where he has a cottage for weekend use, Burgess moodily reads old gravestones in the churchyard.’

Travels in Enderby Land