530 Staples Avenue
August 25, 1931
Mr. Edgar Rice Burroughs
Mr. dear Mr. Burroughs:
I have something to tell you which I think you
will find very amusing.
I am a fourteen year old boy and am a low Junior
in High School. Today at school our teacher was discussing "good literature."
I asked if Edgar Rice Burroughs was all right for a book report. I knew
she'd say "no" (teachers always do) but I didn't expect her to lecture
to the class for the whole period about how terrible your books were!
The discussion was as follows (as nearly as I
Teacher speaking: "His first Tarzan book was
all right. I'd advise you all to read it. Why when I read it I actually
imagined I was a monkey hanging by my tail in a jungle. It was very real.
But all his stories since then have been just repetitions."
I cut in with: "Oh, I don't think so. I've read
everyone of 'em and I'm goofy to read every new one that comes out."
Well with that she burst into a perfect tirade!
"If I were to buy the highest priced box of chocolates obtainable," she
said, "and were to offer it to you along with a box of old cheap stuff,
which would you take? Why the good candy of course! Yet you'll go to extremes
to pick up this horrid literature out of the garbage cans such as Burroughs
--- and she went on for hours and hours and hours.
I got in a good word for you every chance I could.
Then came the last straw when she said: "Now if
he'd write like Verne his stories would be more acceptable. Verne had
something. He could write of a submarine, something that didn't exist in
his time. He had imagination. Burroughs doesn't."
Now I ask you: is Verne's sub. any better example
of imagination than your machine that went to the center of the earth?
Not as far as I can see!
Another thing: she said she'd be in jungles many
times and your conception of them was "all wet", so to speak. She says
you don't know what you're talking about. Claims there are no such jungles
of trees as Tarzan goes thru and a lot of other nonsense. Who cares about
that? All you speak of is real to me. Hawthorne, Cooper and others
may have written "Classics", but I'll take one of your fast-moving novels
any day to those dead old things that ought to have been buried years ago.
Now, to get off the subject. The first story I
ever read by you was "The Mastermind of Mars" in AMAZING STORIES ANNUAL.
I read that magnasplendent story when I was living in Hollywood.
Shortly after that I moved to San Francisco. Then, for the first time in
my life, I went to a library. I asked if any such person as Edgar Rice
Burroughs had written any books that were in the library. Well you can
imagine my joy when I found you'd written stacks! I grabbed "Chessmen of
Mars" and a "Tarzan" book and home I flew. Oh boy! What a time I
had for the next year reading your stories. Now I've read every one. I'm
trying to save up some money to buy your "Fighting Man of Mars" but I don't
seem to be getting anywhere.
I don't expect you'll bother to answer this --
maybe you haven't even read it -- but anyway will you please autograph
the enclosed card and return it to me. Thank you, so much!
And now I'd better sign off. I certainly envy
the fellow -- if there is such a fellow -- that is friendly enough
with you to call you Eddie.
Yours very respectfully,
Forrest J. Ackerman
Forrest J Ackerman (sig)