During his lifetime, Burton’s considerable acting talents were often overshadowed by his hell-raising reputation and his on-again, off-again marriages to Elizabeth Taylor. This being so, it may surprise many to learn that, despite his heavy drinking, chain smoking and womanizing, Burton was also something of a literary buff, often finding solace in the pages of a book.
"I’m a reader, you know. I was corrupted by Faust. And Shakespeare. And Proust. And Hemingway. But mostly I was corrupted by Dylan Thomas. Most people see me as a rake, womanizer, boozer and purchaser of large baubles. I’m all those things depending on the prism and the light. But mostly I’m a reader. Give me Agatha Christie for an hour and I’m happy as a clam. The house in Celigny some day will cave in under its own weight from the books. I hope I’m there when it does. One hundred six years old. Investigating the newest thriller from Le Carré or a new play from Tennessee Williams."Sadly, Burton didn’t live to see the grand old age of 106. He died of a brain haemorrhage in 1984 at the age of 58. His death marked the culmination of years of ill-health, mainly due to cirrhosis of the kidneys and liver.