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Volume 3099

A Contribution To The ERBzine Library Project
Edgar Rice Burroughs
Shakes Hands With
Edgar Wallace

by
R.E. Prindle

     Quite by accident I came across a probable source for Burroughs in an English writer by the name of Edgar Wallace.  Wallace, as Burroughs, was born in 1875.  He was a prolific writer of 175 novels, numerous plays, and incidental writings.  Astonishingly he was responsible for the creation of King Kong working up the first script, although he died in 1932 before the project came to fruition.

     The movies were kind to him; over 160 films based on his novels have been produced.

     Burroughs was well aware of Wallace having four of his more obscure titles in his library: Great Stories Of Real Life, Island Life, A King By Night, and Mexican Sierras.

     More to the point for Bibliophiles was a series of African novels gathered under the title: Mr. Commissioner Sanders.  The first of these, Sanders Of The River, appeared as Burroughs wrote his first novel, A Princess Of Mars, in 1911.  The second, The People Of The River, in 1912, The River Of Stars in 1913 and Bosambo Of The River in 1914.  The later stories needn't detain us here as the influence was largely expended in Burroughs' novel of 1914, The Beasts Of Tarzan, although the influence might have resurfaced in 1929's Tarzan And The Lost Empire.  Wallace also has monkey characters called N'Kima that was probably remembered in the twenties when Burroughs created his own N'Kima.

Artist: Francis Marshall from Escort magazine in the '70s
Sanders of the River

     Wallace was a very good writer.  Very concise and intense.  The Sanders stories are despised today for depicting an accurate portrayal of the times rather than a sentimental version of what might have been consistent with today's prejudices.  Our own time would prefer something along the lines of "Dr. Dolittle Of The River."  Amusingly Burroughs' The Beasts of Tarzan could be seen as a parody of Dr. Dolittle.

     Unlike Burroughs, Wallace had been to Africa, but seemingly not long enough to have experienced all the adventures he portrays.  The series aren't novels so much as collections of short stories, except for River Of Stars which is a story longer than a novelette, but short for a full-fledged novel.  Nice story though.

     The first two collections, Sanders Of The River and People Of The River seem to be the main influences of Beasts Of Tarzan.  Sanders used a gunboat with a couple Maxims to make his presence tolerated or, even, welcome.  Thus he cruised up and down an unnamed river in an unnamed part of Africa but looking very near to Nigeria in order to keep order amongst the troublesome tribes under his jurisdiction.

     Burroughs makes a farce of Beasts Of Tarzan having The Big Guy cruise up and down the river in his canoe apparently somewhere in Gabon with his motley crew of beasts.  Perhaps reminscent of Kipling.

     Burroughs abandoned river stories after Beasts.

     There was an incident in Sanders Of The River in which Roman centurions appear and disappear mysteriously.  The idea may have recurred to Burroughs for use in Lost Empire.

     Altogether I can highly recommend Wallace for some effective story telling.  The more PC might wish to avoid the stories.  I wouldn't hesitate to pick up any title that came to hand.  In fact I bought a couple omnibus editions giving me about ten percent of the corpus.  Wallace's reputation was made early however in 1905's Four Just Men.  You might want to look that up first.



April 1, 1875, Greenwich, London - February 10, 1932, Hollywood, CA
A PHOTO GALLERY




"Edgar Wallace, reporter.  Born London 1875. Died Hollywood 1932.
Founder Member of the Company of Newspaper Makers.
He knew wealth and poverty, yet had walked with kings & kept his bearing.
Of his talents he gave lavishly to authorship--but to Fleet Street he gave his heart."

WEB REFS
Sanders of the River
The People of the River
Bosambo of the River
Edgar Wallace: A Short Bio
Edgar Wallace: The Official Site
Edgar Wallace: Fantastic Fiction
Edgar Wallace: Wikipedia
Edgar Wallace: Online Literature
Edgar Wallace: IMDB Internet Movie Data Base


R. E. Prindle welcomes your comments at:
 dugwarbaby@yahoo.com
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Differing viewpoints are welcome.

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I, Dynamo

The views expressed by Mr. Prindle in his series of articles 
are not necessarily those held by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc.


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