Edgar Rice Burroughs, an American author born in Chicago in 1875, is best known for his creation of the jungle character, Tarzan and his heroic Mars adventurer, John Carter. Burroughs' most acclaimed novels are Tarzan of the Apes (1912) and The Gods of Mars (1914). We feature his Mars works in our Science Fiction Study Guide
Burroughs was sent to his brother's ranch in Idaho during the Chicago influenza epidemic in 1891. He attended the Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, then the Michigan Military Academy, but he failed to gain entrance to West Point and was discharged from the Army after being diagnosed with a heart problem in 1897. He worked as a pencil sharpener wholesaler after several years of low income jobs, then began to write fiction in 1911. He had a lot of spare time on his hands, and took up reading pulp fiction magazines. He observed,
- ...if people were paid for writing rot such as I read in some of those magazines, that I could write stories just as rotten. As a matter of fact, although I had never written a story, I knew absolutely that I could write stories just as entertaining and probably a whole lot more so than any I chanced to read in those magazines.
Burroughs married and had two children. His daughter eventually married Tarzan film actor James Pierce. No her name was not Jane, but "Joan."
Burroughs was buried in Tarzana, California, in 1950.