Visionary science fiction novelist Edgar Rice Burroughs (1875-1950) was born on this day in Chicago, Illinois; his father was a Union Major in the Civil War.
"There is a vast difference between seeing life and living life," he once said.
From remote Mars to the deep North African jungle, ERB created over 90 tales of fantasy and imagination, celebrating the enduring spirit of mankind.
"Psychologists tell me that... too close a scrutiny of my mental activities might prove anything but flattering," he wrote in Warlord of Mars (1913), one of the 11 John Carter of Mars books, a popular pulp fiction series. David Innes in the Inner World and Carson Napier on Venus were more of his creations.
"I write to escape ... to escape poverty," he once joked and chose writing after drifting in and out of a kaleidoscope of menial jobs and failed business ventures.
Burroughs penned one of fiction's most memorable characters, Tarzan--the son of Lord Greystoke who was abandoned in Africa and raised by apes. "I find I can write better about places I've never seen than those I have seen," Burroughs explained about his colorful imagination.
The first of some 25 sequels, Tarzan of the Apes (1914) was followed by a successful motion picture of the same name in 1918. In 1932, another film version with Olympic swimmer Johnny Weissmuller as Tarzan and Maureen O’Sullivan as Jane brought even more fame to the writer and his characters.
As potent as the heroic writings of Joseph Campbell, the words of Burroughs inspired Jane Goodall, Ronald Reagan, George Lucas, and others. As writer Ray Bradbury once observed: "Edgar Rice Burroughs... has probably changed more destinies than any other writer in American history."
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