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
The discussion was as follows (as
nearly as I can remember):
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
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 writes."
--- 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)