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American writer, Augusten Burroughs (b. 1965), was in foster care as a teenager before he was adopted. 

Burroughs was born Christopher Richter Robison to a philosophy academic, John Robison, and a poet, Margaret Robison. Both parents struggled with mental health problems and alcoholism and they separated when Augusten was twelve. 

Augusten was sent by his mother to live with his parents’ psychiatrist because she was going through a difficult time. In his book, Running with Scissors, Burroughs says he lived with the psychiatrist and his large family for more than three years. Members of the family say it was about eighteen months. 

Eventually Burroughs’ mother signed over guardianship of her younger son to the psychiatrist. His name was Dr Rodolph Harvey Turcotte but was named Dr Finch in the book. Turcotte was reportedly into unorthodox beliefs and behaviours, including permitting a man in his thirties to have sex with Augusten when he was thirteen. Turcotte was stripped of his medical licence in 1986.  

Augusten Burroughs moved to Boston as the age of seventeen. He studied for a Diploma in Computer Programming and Systems Analysis and Design. He then moved to San Francisco and became a copywriter, writing copy for a number of top advertising companies before Running with Scissors became “a publishing phenomenon, spending three consecutive years on the New York Times bestseller list.”  

Running with Scissors was on the New York Times bestseller list for more than seventy weeks. In 2006, it was made into a movie starring Annette Benning and Alec Baldwin.  

Augusten Burroughs has written eight memoirs, plus a novel, a self-help book and a children’s picture book. A Wolf at the Table (2008) is an examination of life with his difficult father. Burrough’s best-selling book, This is How (2012), is widely acclaimed by mental health practitioners and young people who attribute the book with preventing suicide.

As one of the best-selling LGBTQ+ authors in history, Burroughs’ books have sold over 10 million copies around the globe. Burroughs was awarded a Doctor of Letters from the Savanah College of Art & Design in Atlanta, Georgia in 2016. He now lives with his husband and their dogs in rural Connecticut.  


Augusten Burroughs Website. 

Bissinger, Buzz. “Ruthless with Scissors.” Vanity Fair Hive, January 2007. 

Espinoza, Galina & Wright, Lynda. “Pain Relief.” People, vol.58, no.13 (2002): 229-230. 

Image available here.