From Diana Athill's memoir Somewhere Towards the End --

“Once we at André Deutsch brought out a coffee-table book about beds prefaced by an oddly inappropriate essay by Anthony Burgess. The book was supposed to be in praise of beds, but Burgess said he loathed them because he was afraid of going to sleep and needed to outwit his fear by letting sleep catch him unexpectedly in a chair or on the floor. Lying down on a bed, he felt, was like lying down on a bier from which, if he lost consciousness, he might never get up. (I did question this preface, but André's view was that no one bothered to read prefaces, what mattered was having the man's name on the book, not what he said – a bit of publisher-think which I deplored, but not strongly enough to make a stand.) I have read of people undergoing many things worse than this quirk of Burgess's, but of no ordeal that was harder for me to imagine sharing. Being forced to deny oneself one of the greatest pleasures of everyday life, the natural seal of happiness, the sure escape from sorrow or boredom, the domestication of mystery... What an affliction!”

Burgess and beds have come up before.

Once in Berkeley I met a writer who claimed he always slept in a leather armchair, instead of on a bed. This struck me as really weird -- so much so that my immediate fear was that I would wind up emulating him. Fortunately this has not come to pass, yet inexplicably, I still think of refusing to sleep on a bed as the sort of thing only a writer would do...

Scroll to Top