E.R. Burroughs: the man behind Tarzan

The upcoming Legend of Tarzan movie that will be at Stompers Cinema Sept. 7 to 10 is but among many installments of the same series inspired by legendary writer Edgar Rice Burroughs. But what of the man who created Tarzan? What was his life like? And what other inspiring stories has he written besides fantastic tales of the King of the Jungle?

From the time of his birth on Sept. 1 1875, to 1911, every endeavor he ever participated resulted in failure. Goldminer, cowboy in Idaho, soldier in the Seventh Cavalry, shopkeeper, railroad policeman, “expert accountant” which he had no idea how to do, and lastly, rejection from service in the Chinese Army. Having a wife with two children, he desperately needed money, according to the author’s official website. His big chance came when he worked as an agent for pencil sharpening that he began writing Under the Moons of Mars, the book that got him $400 dollars to write for All-Story Magazine. The legend of E.R. Burroughs had begun.

A year later, in 1912, the book that put him onto the list of great writers in history was written. That book was Tarzan of the Apes. Even though it had been rejected by every major book industry, Burroughs still got $700 out of it for writing for All-Story Magazine. Sadly he would never finish the last two Tarzan books, Tarzan and The Madman (1964) and Tarzan and the Castaways (1965), due to his death on March 1, 1950 at the age of 74. He had three children.

The first Tarzan movie to come out was the same name of the first of many books in 1918. It was a silent film starring Elmo Lincoln as the king of the apes himself and Enid Markey as Jane Porter, according to tarzan.org. Johnny Weissmuller, who first appeared as Tarzan, the Ape Man alongside Maureen O’Sullivan as Jane and Jiggs as Cheeta, Tarzan’s primate friend, was the actor who truly brought the character of Tarzan to life, and spawned 11 more sequels in the same series. Various cartoons, TV shows, comics and other movies including the Disney versions and the Legend of Tarzan. The King of the Apes and the stories about him captured the imagination of thousands from countless generations before.

But the epic tales of Tarzan are not the only stories that E.R. Burroughs wrote about. He also wrote the John Carter of Mars series Carson of Venus, The Pellucidar Series, the Moon trilogy, The Mucker trilogy and various standalone novels.

Even with various other popular fantasy fiction genres like Robert E. Howard’s Conan, Kull and Solomon Kane stories, Tolkien’s Middle Earth, Andrzej Sapkowski’s The Witcher, or the Game of Thrones series by George R.R. Martin, the legacy of Edgar Rice Burroughs has ceased to diminish. For Tarzan may have been the King of the Apes, but Burroughs will forever be the King of Lost Worlds.

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