School’s, school’s, school’s out and our local library kicked off its summer reading program including the “Teen Challenge”. Which in no way influenced this post. Wink, wink.
Let’s talk about Edgar Rice Burroughs, first of all, I’ve always wondered how rice burrows, but that’s a different topic. Back to Mr. Burroughs, born in 1875, he was one of the most prolific authors of the last century, writing almost 80 novels.
Before he wrote novels, he was short on greenbacks and long on time, so he sold pencil sharpeners and read pulp fiction magazines. In the vein of planting a seed and watching it grow, he decided in 1911 he could write as well or better than the writers he was reading in the pulp fiction magazines. In this case I think the rice burrowed and kick started the magic bean stalk.
Burroughs gave us John Carter and his adventures on Mars—before science fiction even existed. He gave us 26 books about Tarzan. He was the first to publish through multimedia—when everyone said at the time it wouldn’t work. Besides the novels he did comic strips, movies and merchandise. The first Tarzan movie, starring Elmo Lincoln, the first film ever to gross over $1,000,000. Perhaps he greased the skids for George Lucas? Only speculating.
A staunch advocate for authors’ rights, he was the first author to incorporate to protect his works.
He married twice, divorced twice, and had two children. His daughter, Joan, and one year later his son, Hulbert, named for his mother’s maiden name. Hulbert Burroughs, it just rolls off the tongue.
Eventually Edgar moved from Chicago to California, bought an estate, re-named it Tarzana after his beloved character, Tarzan, and the folks that lived in the area adopted it as the name of their fair city.
When he was in his late 60’s he was living in Honolulu, Hawaii, when the Japanese attacked. He applied for and became a war correspondent, making him one of the oldest U.S. war correspondents during WWII.
After the war he moved back state side, he landed in Encino, California, and died in bed reading the Sunday comics. He is buried in Tarzana, California.
For a guy whose books sold over a hundred million copies in multiple languages, he one said, “I write to escape . . . to escape poverty”. I think we’re all happy he did.