University Archives


Edgar Rice Burroughs TLS Re: Unsatisfactory Ending of "Tarzan of the Apes"

1p typed letter signed by American writer Edgar Rice Burroughs (1875-1950) as "ER Burroughs" at center. Written in Chicago, Illinois on November 13, 1912 on a single leaf of stationery with "Edgar Rice Burroughs / Chicago" letterhead. Expected light paper folds and a few wrinkles recto, and minor weathering where folded letter was exposed verso. Else near fine. 7.25" x 11.25."

In this letter, Burroughs thanked a fan named John I. Hall from Kingston-on-Thames, England, in part: "The many kindly expressions of interest in Tarzan of the Apes that have come from England and the Colonies have been a source of considerable pleasure to me. I am glad that you do not like the ending of the story, for neither do I. We shall have things straightened out though in the sequel which I am now working on…"

Burroughs had published "Tarzan of the Apes" in the New York City-based pulp magazine "The All-Story" in October 1912, just one month earlier. The "Tarzan" series would prove to be Burroughs's most popular and lucrative literary creation. In this first installment of what would eventually be published as 24 books, readers were introduced to Tarzan, a British infant orphaned in equatorial Africa and raised by friendly apes. As a young man, Tarzan fights hostile animals, encounters his first Europeans, and falls in love with Jane Porter. Hall's dissatisfaction with the story's conclusion likely revolved around two plot developments. At the end, not only does Tarzan not marry Jane, but he forfeits his inheritance in favor of her fiancé, his duplicitous cousin William Clayton!

Burroughs wrote his editor Thomas Newell Metcalf elsewhere on September 20, 1912: "About a sequel to Tarzan. Candidly I don't think it would be a go, although I have a really bully foundation in mind for one. These sequel things usually fall flat. I'll be glad to think it over, however, and later if you decide that it will be wise to try it I'll tackle it." (Edgar Rice Burroughs Web Museum).

After some consideration, Burroughs fulfilled his promise. In "The Return of Tarzan," published in "New Story Magazine" in 1913 and in book form in 1915, Tarzan marries Jane, claims a jungle treasure, and accepts his restored claims to the British peerage. Along the way, in true Burroughs fashion, characters are barraged by shipwrecks, kidnapping, and duels. Tarzan's adventures were to continue for the next thirty-five years!

This item comes with a Certificate from John Reznikoff, a premier authenticator for both major 3rd party authentication services, PSA and JSA (James Spence Authentications), as well as numerous auction houses.


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