The Discovery of YOU LUCKY GIRL!
and the evolution of Don Grant's
First Burroughs Book
Dr. Henry Hardy Heins
much as any contributing factor, what convinced me that I might do a creditable
job in assembling a new Edgar Rice Burroughs bibliography, back in 1962,
was my proximity in the city of Albany, N.Y. to a treasure-trove of data
on the publishing of his stories.
I learned somehow that at the
New York State Library, only a mile or two downtown from my home, there
was a federally subsidized depository of all the Library of Congress catalogue
cards that had ever been printed. More to the point, along with them was
a complete set of annual volumes entitled the Catalogue of Copyright
Entries, which included all the years that Burroughs was writing and
having his works published. Anything and everything that he or his publishers
sent to Washington with a copyright application was included by title and
exact date in these volumes.
They were not for circulation,
being in that class of vital reference materials for which there was minimal
demand, and the State Library kept them in an ill-lighted and very remote
area of its subterranean stacks, with no table space, about seven levels
down in an ancient elevator. I had stack privileges, though, as a clergyman
/ scholar, and when I found out about these books I spent a great deal
of time down there with notebook and pencil, at least once a week for several
With the detailed information
this Library of Congress Catalogue supplied, I had the basis for my Golden
Anniversary Bibliography of Edgar Rice Burroughs -- the actual publication
date (month, day and year) for every new first edition.
Nothing was out of the ordinary
for the first 13 years of E.R.B.'s output, 1914 through 1926. When I opened
the Catalogue for 1927, however, a title jumped out at me that I
had never heard of:
You Lucky Girl! A love
story in 3 acts. Copyright November 3, 1927 under number D81617 by Edgar
Rice Burroughs, Inc., Reseda, Calif.
He had written a play? I included
this surprising information in the 1962 edition of my Bibliography
(which I published myself), thus breaking the news to fandom -- and, as
it happened, to the Burroughs family themselves.
It impelled Hulbert Burroughs
to dig through the fabled safe in Tarzana, and sure enough, there it was,
in a small binder of 78 pages. He was kind enough to loan me the manuscript
to read, though he could not explain the omission of any mention of it
from his father's working notebook. He added:
"I did, however, learn
that it was apparently written at a time when my sister, Joan, was actively
engaged as an actress in small legitimate playhouses. My assumption s that
he probably wrote this play hoping that it might be produced by the stock
company Joan was then working for. Joan, however, has no recollection of
the play, and there is no indication that anything further ever happened
with it. It was probably copyrighted because ERB thought the above producer
might possibly use it."
It remained for Hugh Munro Neely
of the Palmdale Playhouse in California to finally mount YOU LUCKY GIRL!
for its long-delayed world premiere there 70 years later in April 1997.
Unfortunately, Joan Burroughs Pierce did not live to see it.
Doubtless the most significant
result of my Bibliography's initial publication in 1962, and my sending
complimentary copies individually to Hulbert, Joan and John Coleman Burroughs,
was the forced retirement of Cyril Ralph Rothmund as general manager of
Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc., and the taking over of day-to-day operations
of the Tarzana office by the Burroughs family themselves, particularly
He told me that they had no idea
Rothmund was neglecting responding to letters, allowing copyrights to expire,
etc. They were profuse in their thanks for the Bibliography, an d invited
me out for several days' visit in the summer of 1963. This was after Hulbert
had visited our home in Albany earlier that year, and I had given him the
grand tour of the stacks and the copyright records at the State Library.
He wryly commented, "We've just paid our law firm a thousand-dollar fee
for this same information you've gathered here for free."
A year or two later, Hully invited
me to come to California and undertake the writing of his father's biography.
Unhappily, it would have meant leaving my church and moving my family out
there for an indefinite period, and an even more indefinite future beyond
that, and after much consideration I had to decline. Then Irwin Porges
came along, and he did a much better and more exhaustive job than I could
ever have dreamed of.
Meanwhile, Don Grant of Rhode
Island had approached me with an offer I could not refuse. He would publish
an expanded, hardcover edition of the Bibliography, with all the
extra material I couldn't put in the 1962 original, and would share the
1,000-copy printing with me on a 500-500 basis, with no cash outlay on
my part. I agree, and the work began.
The "complete edition, revised"
came out in September 1964, and it was the first book that Don published
under his own name, so confident was he of its appeal and ultimate success.
He personally typed every page of the masters, while I was continually
bedeviling him with updates requiring repeated retyping. That was the time,
remember, of the great Burroughs revival among the paperback publishers,
with new editions coming out every month and begging for inclusion.
My original title was kept unchanged.
1962 had been the golden anniversary of the first Burroughs story in magazine
form in 1912 and 1964 was the golden anniversary of his first book -- McClurg's
publication of TARZAN OF THE APES in 1914.
True to our fondest hopes, the
Bibliography did prove a success. Many Burroughs fans and many libraries
ordered it. I remember mailing copies to the British Museum and even to
the Lenin State Library in Moscow! Orders poured in so fast to both Don
and myself that the entire edition went out of print within five months.
Despite much demand, though, I could not face the thought of doing it all
over again, and an updated edition has never seen the light of day.