Blue plaque for Chiswick writer Anthony Burgess rejected

Image above: Portrait of Anthony Burgess

An  application for a blue plaque commemorating the home of Chiswick writer Anthony Burgess has been rejected for a second time. Supporters of the bid said they were surprised and disappointed the application has been turned down. They are particularly irked that Jim Henson, creator of the Muppets received a blue plaque this year instead of their candidate.

Burgess, best known for his dystopian novel A Clockwork Orange, lived at 24 Glebe Street between 1963 and 1968, and wrote several of his most important novels there.

READ ALSO: Anthony Burgess blue plaque bid

The Chiswick Book Festival, taking placet this weekend, will be discussing who gets the honour of a blue plaque and why. The debate, titled ‘Anthony Burgess: Why No Blue Plaque in Chiswick?  And if not him – who?’ is on Sunday 12 September at 4.15 pm in St Michael & All Angels Church, Bath Rd.

Book tickets here: Chiswick Book Festival / tickets

Images above: Jim Henson with two of his creations; Muppets and their operators, photograph by Nathan Rupert

Burgess “one of the major British writers of the 20th Century”

Professor Andrew Biswell, director of the International Anthony Burgess Foundation, said:

“Anthony Burgess was one of the major British writers of the 20th century, but his achievements have  gone largely unrecognised in the country of his birth. When English Heritage turned down our first application in 2015, they said we could re-nominate him after five years, rather than the usual ten. His international reputation has grown since then, so we are very surprised and disappointed.”

In a letter to the Foundation, the curatorial director of English Heritage, Anna Eavis, wrote:

‘the durability and extent of (Burgess’s) literary impact was not sufficiently clear” and that “much of his career was spent outside London.’

Anna Eavis will be taking part in the Chiswick Book Festival debate with John Walsh, former Literary Editor of the Sunday Times and director of the Cheltenham Literature Festival, and Rose Sandy, founder of the Harper Collins Author Academy, which supports writers from underrepresented ethnic backgrounds.

John Walsh described the first rejection in 2015 as “bone-headed”. Writing in the Independent, he said:

“If Anthony Burgess doesn’t merit a blue plaque, few do.”

Chiswick Book Festival inviting the public to suggest names for blue plaques

Chiswick Book Festival is inviting the public to suggest authors they would nominate for a blue plaque in less than 30 words. The best entry will win a vintage edition of a Burgess novel from Foster Books, the independent antiquarian bookseller Chiswick High Road.

The latest bid for a Burgess plaque was supported by academics, historians, local residents and the Director of the Chiswick Book Festival, Torin Douglas, who said:

“One reason English Heritage objects to Burgess is that much of his career was spent outside London, yet it has awarded a plaque to Gerald Durrell’s house in Dulwich, where he lived at the age of three. And with the new blue plaque for The Muppets creator Jim Henson, there will be plenty to debate!”

Burgess is one of several Chiswick authors being highlighted at this week’s Festival. Nancy Mitford was the focus of the opening event at Chiswick House and TV presenter Clare Balding is speaking on Friday.

READ ALSO: Nancy Mitford in Chiswick

At the Waterstones Local Authors’ Party on Tuesday 7 September, 20 writers who live locally talked about their books on a strict time limit of two minutes each. Subjectsw ranged from a diary of Donald Trump’s daily uttrerances while he was president, to a self help book for those who suddenly find themselves having do deal with severe illness in the family.

A portrait of Antony Burgess by the celebrated photographer Jane Bown was up for auction at Chiswick Auctions this week.

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