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Edgar Rice Burroughs

Edgar Rice Burroughs
Edgar Rice Burroughs

Edgar Rice Burroughs was born in Chicago on 1 September 1875. His father was a successful businessman. Eddie, as he was called by his family, had two younger brothers who died in infancy and his parents were terrified that he would contract a disease, so they frequently shuffled him from school to school to avoid any outbreak of illness. Edgar claimed that this resulted in his never properly learning English but repeating the same Latin and Greek classes many times. This early exposure to classical mythology served him well as a writer.

in 1891, worried about an outbreak of influenza in Chicago, Edgar's parents sent him to a cattle ranch in Idaho which had been started by his two older brothers. While there the 15 year-old Edgar learned to ride and ranch cattle and witnessed the lawlessness of the frontier which became the background for his western novels. After completing his schooling, Edgar joined the 7th Cavalry where he "chased Apaches but never caught any". A routine medical examination found that he had a heart murmur and he was discharged.

 in 1900, Edgar married his childhood sweetheart, Emma Hulbert. They had two children, Joan and Hulbert. They divorced in 1934 and, the next year, Edgar married Florence Dearholt.

Edgar tried a string of unsuccessful careers as a gold miner, shopkeeper, railway policeman, door-to-door salesman, accountant, clerk, peddler of a "cure" for alcoholism and a pencil sharpener wholesaler. The pencil sharpeners were advertised in pulp magazines and, when checking the ads, Edgar claimed that he realised that "if people were paid for writing rot such as I read in some of those magazines that I could write stories just as rotten".

He wrote his first book Dejah Thoris, Princess of Mars in 1911. All Story Magazine published it as a serial under the title Under the Moons of Mars.  It was eventually published as the novel A Princess of Mars in 1917.

Edgar's second novel, Tarzan of the Apes, also began in a serialized form in All Story Magazine in 1912. It became a best-seller when it was published as a complete novel in 1914. It was made into a movie in 1918.

With the money from the movie, Burroughs bought a ranch, which he named "Tarzana", in California. In 1928, the community around the ranch adopted the name Tarzana for their township.

Over the next 30 years, he published about 70 more novels. When paperback novels became popular in the early sixties, many of his novels became best-sellers for a second time.

During the Second World War, Burroughs, then 66, became a war correspondent - the oldest to serve in the Pacific theatre.

Edgar Rice Burroughs' most famous works are the 24 books about Tarzan but he wrote many other works of popular fiction, including series about "Pellucidar", a world at the core or the Earth, and the "Barsoom" series about the adventures of John Carter on Mars.

Edgar Rice Burroughs sold more than 100 million copies of his novels in 56 languages. Fifty movies and five television series have been made about Tarzan.

Edgar Rice Burroughs died in 1950.

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