Joan Vollmer Adams

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Joan Vollmer Adams (* 1924 in Loudonville , New York ; † September 6, 1951 in Mexico City ) was the American muse and wife of William S. Burroughs . She is the mother of his son William Burroughs III.


Joan Vollmer Adams read a lot, had studied journalism , was attractive and had a good taste for fashion. She rebelled against the boredom of the upper-class bourgeoisie, in which she grew up, and had already had a child when she met the artistic community that would later become known as the Beat Generation .

At the time the future Beat Generation was forming, Joan was living near Columbia University with Edie Parker , who became Jack Kerouac's first wife . It was in this apartment that Kerouac, Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg , Lucien Carr , Herbert Huncke , Vickie Russell, a prostitute described as 'Mary' in Junkie , met and other friends. Joan Vollmer's apartment developed into a meeting point for the group and their guests. Joyce Johnson called the meeting place something like a spiritual hospice .

In early 1946 Burroughs moved in with Vollmer, becoming her lover, tutor, and analyst . Drugs played a big role in this circle. Burroughs started injecting morphine ; Joan Vollmer and Kerouac consumed amphetamines . Animated by drugs, alcohol and the heated atmosphere, there were always discussions about literature and politics. Burroughs and Vollmer fathered a child who was born in 1947. Baby William Burroughs III. was born as an addict , in the first days of his life he had to go through a withdrawal .

In 1948, Burroughs was on the run from a drug possession trial, so he and Joan Vollmer decided to go to Mexico City with their two children. The plan was to grow marijuana on a farm . Mexico City turned out to be a paradise for heroin and alcohol addicts, and Burrough's need for homosexual acquaintances was also easy to satisfy here. Joan, however, did not get “her” drug amphetamines in her new home and she simply switched to cheap tequila .

Joan Vollmer's death in 1951 is as tragic as it is shrouded in mystery. At a party after hours of drinking, Burroughs, a gun fanatic, asked his wife to put a glass on her head so he could shoot it away. He killed her in the process. The circumstances of the accident / misfortune were never clarified. Burroughs was detained for thirteen days and then released.


"Joan was the only equal woman in an otherwise all-male cast."

- Joyce Johnson


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