Press Office

Wednesday 29 Oct 2014

Press Release

Radio 3 to broadcast unpublished short story by Anthony Burgess

In a world exclusive, BBC Radio 3 will be broadcasting a previously unpublished short story by A Clockwork Orange author Anthony Burgess.

Discovered among the author's unpublished papers which were transferred to the University of Texas from his Monaco apartment after his death in 1993, the story tells a tale of two middle-aged women and their ill-fated experiment with Tarot cards.

Entitled Chance Would Be A Fine Thing, the story was written in the early Sixties and was partly inspired by TS Eliot's aristophanic melodrama, Sweeney Agonistes. It will be broadcast on Radio 3 on Friday 22 October and read by actor John Sessions.

Burgess was fascinated by the idea of cartomancy (or predicting the future with cards). He designed his own set of tarot cards for domestic use and, when working as a schoolmaster in Oxfordshire in the Fifties, he disguised himself as "Professor Sosostris, the famous clairvoyant" and told fortunes at a village fete.

Dr Andrew Biswell, director of the International Anthony Burgess Foundation, Burgess' biographer and lecturer in English at Manchester Metropolitan University, comments: "Burgess had a strong interest in horoscopes, tarot cards and predictive dreams.

"In the second volume of his autobiography he even claimed to have predicted the assassination of President Kennedy in 1963. I feel we may be on the cusp of a Burgess revival, with several novels to be republished before the end of this year, and a number of other new projects in the pipeline including the world premiere of a ballet about Shakespeare for which Burgess wrote the music".

Abigail Appleton, Head of Speech for Radio 3, adds: "Outstanding writing – in drama, short stories and non-fiction – is at the heart of Radio 3's speech programmes, so I am thrilled to be able to bring listeners unpublished work from such a distinguished author.

"As Anthony Burgess was passionate about classical music and a composer as well as writer, it's perhaps particularly appropriate this story finds a home on Radio 3."

Although he is best known for his full-length novels such as A Clockwork Orange, Earthly Powers and Inside Mr Enderby, Anthony Burgess was frequently attracted to the short story form. He wrote more than 40 short stories throughout his literary career. A volume of his Collected Short Stories, edited by Dr Andrew Biswell, is due for publication in 2013.

Twenty Minutes – Chance Would Be A Fine Thing will be broadcast on Radio 3 on Friday 22 October at 7.50pm.

Dr Andrew Biswell, Burgess's biographer and newly-appointed director of the Anthony Burgess Foundation, is available for interview.


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