William Burroughs at Scientology's 'Saint Hill Manor' in 1968, before his discontent - 2019-03-09
In 2013, we interviewed author David Wills about his book on William Burroughs, Scientologist! William S. Burroughs and the 'weird cult'. He argued that Burroughs biographers tended to play down (or merely not understand) how deeply into Scientology Burroughs had been before famously falling away from it in scathing testimonials. We thought he put together a pretty compelling picture about Burroughs' involvement in Scientology, which happened from 1959 to about 1969. In this excerpt from his book which Wills has generously agreed to share, we've taken a portion of the chapter when Burroughs was at his most enthusiastic, while at Saint Hill Manor in 1968.
Saint Hill Manor was purchased by L. Ron Hubbard in 1959 as a training center for Scientologists. The year Burroughs enrolled for his first training course, the brochure fawned over the building's impressive setting and history. It is written with Hubbard's unmistakably trite and self-aggrandizing phrasing, not to mention his fondness for the word "free" and its derivatives:
Throughout the history of Man, one reads of Man's continual efforts to free himself from bondage, slavery and ignorance… Scientology has found the answers and the Road to Total Freedom.