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Volume 1599

Edgar Rice Burroughs (1932)
I wrote TARZAN OF THE APES twenty-one years ago. It was my third novel and the first to appear under my own name, which was unknown outside a radius of six feet from my back porch.

All-Story October 1912 - Tarzan of the ApesBob Davis of the Munsey Company liked the story and it appeared in the October, 1912 issue of ALL-STORY MAGAZINE, whereupon I commenced to have visions of earning three thousand dollars a year and affluence in the writing game.

Sharing a common weakness with one hundred and twenty million other Americans, I got a great kick out of seeing my name in print, and as an all fiction magazine is anything but an enduring monument I commenced to look up addresses of book publishers.

During the next couple of years, every reputable publisher in the United States had an opportunity to turn down TARZAN OF THE APES, and did. I was not surprised; in fact, the only thing about the marketing of my stories that ever surprises me is when they sell. I have never written a story yet but that deep down in my heart I was positive that it would be refused.

It was the newspapers that created the demand for Tarzan. Unless I am mistaken, the New York Evening World started it; and then it was syndicated in cities of all sizes all over the United States and finally in boiler plate form in several thousand small town newspapers.

The result was that A. C. McClurg and Company had so many inquiries from their retail customers for TARZAN OF THE APES that, after having refused the story a year before, they now wrote me asking for the book rights.

Fred J. Arting McClurg: Tarzan of the Apes - title page silhouette

The book had about the same experience in England, some thirteen publishers turning it down before Sir Arthur Methuen undertook its publication there; but it achieved possibly a greater success in England than in the United States until the death of Sir Arthur.

Contracts have been entered into during the past twelve or fifteen years for the translation of TARZAN OF THE APES into Arabic, Czecho-Slovakian, Danish, Dutch (Holland), Finnish, French, German, Hungarian, Icelandic, Italian, Norwegian, Polish, Roumanian, Spanish, Swedish, Portuguese and Urdu; and it has been printed in Braille for the blind.

TARZAN OF THE APES has had many adventures that are between the covers of no book. Having been pirated in Soviet Russia, he gained such popularity among the proletariat that the Soviet government was forced to take official cognizance of him. Whether they murdered him in a cellar or knouted him to Siberia, I do not know; but they got all het up because groups of illiterate peasants gathered in the streets while a more educated fellow, oftentimes a soldier, read Tarzan out loud to them instead of Soviet propaganda or the intriguing dream books of Mr. Marx.

In Germany he aroused the jealousy of a publisher because of his popularity, and this good sportsman dug up a story that I had written during the heat of anti-German propaganda in this country following the sinking of the Lusitania. He had a book written and published, telling all about the two horrible creatures, TARZAN OF THE APES and Edgar Rice Burroughs; and he distributed it so effectively that the German press made Tarzan an issue, lambasting him editorially and advising all good Germans to throw their Tarzan books into the garbage cans  . . . which they did. 

A Bulgarian or Roumanian discovered that I had stolen Tarzan word for word from a poor French author, who was slowly starving go death in a garret, while a neighbor woman here in the San Fernando Valley revealed the secret that I never wrote any of my books, all of them having been written by my father, an old gentleman with a long, white beard.

Little boys have broken into newspapers all over the world by falling out of trees and breaking something while emulating Tarzan and one little boy, Jackie Strong of Gresham, Oregon, who was lost three days and nights on the wooded slopes of Mount Hood, attributed his ability to take care of himself and come through alive and well to the fact that he had been a student of TARZAN OF THE APES.

TARZAN OF THE APES was not written primarily for children and my files contain letters of appreciation from men and women of all ages and from al walks of life . . . school teachers, librarians, college professors, priests, doctors, lawyers, soldiers, sailors and business men, among which are names internationally famous; but possibly the greatest pleasure that I have derived from the publication of my stories has come through the knowledge that they have appealed also to children and that I have given them a character, however improbable he may seem, that will set for them a higher standard of manliness, integrity and sportsmanship.

Since TARZAN OF THE APES first appeared in the newspapers years ago a new generation of readers has grown up, and Tarzan is as popular today as he was then.

J. Allen St. John: Tarzan and the City of Gold - 5 b/w interior platesI have written a total of eighteen Tarzan stories, sixteen of which are in book form the latest being TARZAN AND THE CITY OF GOLD, a second printing of which was necessitated before publication date.

Within the last two years there has been a marked interest in the Tarzan stories. A new Tarzan picture was made last year and another one has just been completed. The United Features Syndicate, Inc., is offering TARZAN OF THE APES in a series of splendid, illustrated strips to the newspapers of the country and it is meeting with a success far beyond anything that I had anticipated.

In addition to the Tarzan stories, I have written forty-eight other stories, thirty-one of which are in book form, and for some years it has been my policy to write one Tarzan and one other type of story, which I call a non-Tarzan.

What seems to me one of the remarkable things about the Tarzan books, and for that matter of all my other novels, is that they have never been out of print and that there is a constant demand for them, requiring reprinting every year since the first one was published nearly twenty years ago.

All in all, Tarzan has done far better than I possibly could have dreamed at the time that I created him.

~ Edgar Rice Burroughs

Mr. Burroughs holds a copy of the first German edition of TARZAN OF THE APES 
(TARZAN BEI DEN AFFEN), published by Dieck ? Company of Stuttgart in 1924. 
After the publisher's death, Burroughs sent Dieck's widow 
enough money to keep her out of the poor house. . . 
since the Tarzan books had been banned in Germany and she had fallen on hard times.

From the Ja-On Hillman Collection

From the Danton Burroughs JCB Archive
Edgar Rice Burroughs

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