EDGAR RICE BURROUGHS (September 1, 1875 - March 19, 1950) was born in Chicago, Illinois. The fifth
of six sons of businessman George Tyler Burroughs and Mary Evaline (Zeiger) Burroughs. He was the youngest of four surviving
brothers and attended Chicago's Brown elementary. By 1886 he rode horseback to the Harvard School at 18th and Indiana
Avenue. He was taught Greek and Latin before learning English composition.
An influenza epidemic in 1891 Chicago caused ERB's parents to send him to Idaho where older brothers Harry
and George, with partner Lew Sweetser, owned the BarY Ranch in Cassia County. The city boy loved horses and became and
expert bronco buster.
That Fall he was sent to Phillips Academy at Andover, Massachusetts. Popular, ERB was elected class
president but dislike the formal curriculum and ran away. ERB's father, a Union cavalry officer during the American
Civil War, believed a military school might benefit his son. At Michigan Military Academy, Orchard Lake (Fall 1892),
ERB's commandant was Captain Charles King, a name he later used in his novels. ERB was on the football and cavalry teams
and was editor-in-chief and artist for the student newspaper The Adjutant. He remained at Michigan Military Acasemy
after graduating in 1896 as Assistant Commandant; a Professor of Geology, Cavalry, and Gatling Gun.
ERB desired entry into West Point but failed the entrance exam (14 of 118 applicant were accepted).
He enlisted in the army and was assigned duty at Fort Grant, Arizona, "B" Troop. 7th Cavalry, under the command of Colonel
"Bull" Sumner. ERB's duties were "digging boulevards in the desert where no boulevards were needed" and chasing Indian
outlaws without stragety or success. A bout of dysentary uncovered a heart murmur which disqualified him for an army
commission. ERB obtained an honorable discharge and returned to his brother's cattle ranch in Idaho.
Ever desirous to start his own business, be bought a stationary store in Pocatello (1998). He sold
it back to the original owner at year's end. Back at his brother's ranch he decided the cattle business was not for
him. In 1898 ERB returned to Chicago to work at his father's American Battery Company.
A regular salary ($15/week) encouraged ERB to marry childhood sweetheart Emma Centennia Hulbert on January
31, 1900. Her father, Alvin Hubert, was proprietor of the Sherman and Great Northern hotels. In 1903, ERB and
Emma joined brother George in Idaho to operate a gold dredge in the Stanley Basin.
ERB later joined brother Harry's gold dredging operation near Parma, Idaho (1904) in which town he was popular
enough to be elected alderman; but the gold business soon failed. ERB and Emma moved to Salt Lake City, Utah where he
worked as a railroad policeman rousting hoboes and drunks from freight cars. Dissatisfied, the couple sold their belongings
at auction and returned to Chicago.
From 1904 to 1908 temporary jobs included time-keeper, light bulb and candy sales, peddling Stoddard's lectures,
E.S. Winslow Company accountant and, at emotional nadir, volunterring officer to the Chinese army (never happened).
Early in 1908 he landed an excellent job managing the clerical department at Sears, Roebuck & Company but felt his destiny
lay elsewhere. He resigned August 1908, determined to go into business for himself.
A bleak period followed. Emma's jewelry was pawned to buy food. They lived in Oak Park when
Joan was born January 1908. Hulbert, their first son, arrived August 1909, by which time ERB was office manager for
Physicians Co-Operative Association. The company sold "Alcola", an alleged cure for alcoholism but the Food and Drug
Administration shut them down within a year.
Alcola's president, Dr. Stace, and ERB formed the Stace-Burroughs Company which sold booklets (written by
ERB) on expert salesmanship. The Stace-Burroughs Company sank without a trace.
ERB formed a new agency which sold pencil sharpeners. While agents peddled product door to door he
sat in a borrowed office. Killing time, ERB shecked his ads running in various pulp magizines. He read some of
the fiction and decided "if people are paid for writing such rot, I can write something just as rotten."
He began his first story early in 1911. It was influenced by the popular theories of astronomer Percival
Lowell. The story was so improbable he signed it "Normal Bean" to signify he was not insane. ERB sent it to Thomas
Newell Metcalf, editor of All-Story, where it was accepted immediately. Metcalf changed the title to "Under the Moons
of Mars" and ran it in six installments February to July 1912. A copy editor, assuming an error, changed ERB's nom de
plume to Norman Bean. The pun spoiled, ERB dropped the alias permanantly. He received $400 for his story, a staggering
sum at the time.
Metcalf sensed untapped potential and suggested ERB write a story along the lines of Arthurian legend.
ERB obliged with a Gothic romance entitled "The Outlaw of Torn". All-Story rejected it (eventually sold to Street &
Smith's New Story Magazine in 1914). He had begun a third story "Tarzan of the Apes" in December 1911 and finished
May 1912. Metcalf published it complete in one issue of All-Story, October 1912. ERB received $700, resulting
in a decision to take up writing full time. This decision was further strengthened by the birth of a third child, John
Coleman Burrough (February 28, 1913), who would eventually illustrate twelve of his father's first editions.
During the next twelve months ERB wrote and sold eight novels.
After many rejection slips from several publishing houses, ERB received an offer from A.C. McClurg &
Company, Chicago. The company had previously rejected "Tarzan of the Apes" but the story's popularity resulted in a
signed contract. ERB's first book "Tarzan of the Apes" was published June 17, 1914. It became a national best
seller. McClurg published a total of 29 ERB books between 1914 -1929. Most of these first editions were illustrated
by J. Allen St. John, a chicago artist now identified with the Burroughs legend.
In 1919, ERB purchased a 540-acre ranch in California's San Fernando Valley. Idyllic, ERB played at gentleman
farming while solidifying a multi-million dollar industry. Thre ranch was named "Tarzana" and the city which sprand
up arounf him officially took the name on December 11, 1930.
ERB routinely sold first serial right to the pulps while retaining reprint and book rights. He was
36 when his first story was published in 1912. Eleven years later ERB incorporated himself and by 1931 decided to publish
his own books to maximize earnings. ERB succeeded admirable and ERB, Inc. published 24 first editions.
In 1934, their children grown, ERB and Emma's divorce became final December 6, 1934. Four months later
on April 4 1935 he married Florence (Gilbert) Dearholt, a former actress and divorcee with two small children. They
had a prenuptial agreement to part as friends if the marriage failed. They divorced after seven years on May 4, 1942.
ERB remained devoted to her children for the rest of his life.
ERB and son Hulbert witnessed the Japanese attack of Pearl Harbor (December 7, 1941). A one-time major in
the Illinois State Militia at Oak Oark in 1919, ERB was finally in the right place at the right time to be of service.
He became the oldest WWII war correspondent. His "Laugh It Off' column was published regularly in the Honolulu Advertiser.
He visited Australia and several Pacific atolls and went on combat bombing missions with the 7th Air Force out of Kwajalein.
After the war, ERB retired to a modest home in Encino, California. He died on March 19, 1950 of a
heart attack induced by a form of Parkinson's disease. His ashes were buried beneath a black walnut tree in the front
yard of his corporate headquarters on Ventura Boulevard.
In the last year of his life ERB reread all of his books "to see what I had said and how I'd said it."
ERB is now considered the "Grandfather of American Science Fiction".
Taken from A Souvenir of the 1992 Dum-Dum, Louisville, Kentucky (Condensed from the original by
Bruce Bozarth (Tangor) with some of my miniscule additions stuck in)