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Transmissions from the Timothy Leary Papers: Season’s Greetings from William S. Burroughs

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Timothy Leary first made acquaintance with William S. Burroughs in Tangier, Morocco in the summer of 1961.[1] During this heady time, Leary was reaching out to beat poets and artists for participation in his early drug experiments at Harvard University, and Burroughs made an obvious comrade. Despite Burrough's disappointment with Leary's scientific method, their friendship managed to survive through the years. They occasionally reunited and maintained a life-long correspondence.

One of their sporadic visits involved the River City Reunion held on September 7-13, 1987 in Lawrence, Kansas (Burroughs's last city of residence). Leary participated in this event with featured artists, musicians and poets such as Robert Frank, Robert Creeley, Ed Dorn, Allen Ginsberg, Michael McClure, Marianne Faithfull, Jim Carroll, and Diana Diprima.

Years later, these holiday postcards from Burroughs to Leary offer a window into the relationship between the two counterculture icons. As seen in the bottom card, they were in contact til the last months of Leary's life (d. May 31, 1996). William S. Burroughs died a year later on August 2, 1997.

Painted front of postcard by William S. Burroughs, sent to Timothy F. Leary, 1989. Timothy Leary Papers, NYPL. Copied with permission from the William Burroughs estate.Painted front of postcard by William S. Burroughs, sent to Timothy F. Leary, 1989. Timothy Leary Papers, NYPL. Copied with permission from the William Burroughs estate.

Timothy Leary Papers, NYPL. Copied with permission from the William Burroughs estate.Timothy Leary Papers, NYPL. Copied with permission from the William Burroughs estate.

from William S. Burroughs to Timothy F. Leary, circa 1995. Timothy Leary Papers, NYPL. Copied with permission from the William Burroughs estate.from William S. Burroughs to Timothy F. Leary, circa 1995. Timothy Leary Papers, NYPL. Copied with permission from the William Burroughs estate.

Timothy Leary Papers, NYPL. Copied with permission from the William Burroughs estate.Timothy Leary Papers, NYPL. Copied with permission from the William Burroughs estate.

[1]Greenfield, Robert. Timothy Leary: A Biography. Orlando, Fla: Harcourt, 2007.

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