97 Things You Didn’t Know About William S. Burroughs

21. He moved to Vienna to study medicine at age 22.

22. In Europe, Burroughs married a Jewish woman named Ilse Klapper in order for her to escape Nazi occupation and obtain a visa to the United States.

23. They divorced, but remained close friends for decades.

24. He purposely cut off his left pinky at age 25.


William S. Burroughs’ left hand [via]

25. He brought his severed finger to his psychiatrist Herbert Wiggers, who admitted him to a mental hospital.

26. Burroughs said that cutting off his little finger was part of “an initiation ceremony into the Crow Indian tribe.”

27. He later wrote a short story about the experience called “The Finger.”

28. Burroughs moved to Chicago in 1942 and got a job as an exterminator.

29. He also worked as an employee-fraud detective.

30. In Chicago, Burroughs became friends with Lucien Carr and Dave Kammerer; both men were also from St. Louis.