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Volume 3706
JANE: The Woman Who Loved Tarzan
By Robin Maxwell
(See Part II for JANE Excerpt)

JANE Newsletter from
Author Robin Maxwell

Robin and Max featured  in
The Sun Runner
We encourage our Sun Runner readers to join us, and author Robin Maxwell (plus Max Thomas, her husband and missing link to so much in life), at our Desert Writers Celebration, Saturday, September 29. 

Please come celebrate the release of JANE, and listen to Robin and a host of desert writers and poets read from their stories and poems. 

Enjoy African dancing, a Tarzan yell competition, and mingle with all our desert authors and poets!


JANE: The Woman Who Loved Jane
First Reviews from the Trades

BOOKLIST (starred review)

Best-selling historical-fiction writer Maxwell (To the Tower Born, 2005) is the first woman writer authorized by the Edgar Rice Burroughs estate to create a Tarzan tale, a breakthrough that marks the centenary of Tarzan of the Apes, Burroughs' first novel featuring the aristocratic ape man and Jane, the intrepid young woman he rescues. 

Maxwell's new and improved Jane, a budding scientist undaunted by rampant misogyny, accompanies her professor father to West Africa on a 1905 expedition organized by charming explorer Ral Conrath. But Conrath turns out to be a vicious outlaw, who abandons Jane to die a brutal death. Tarzan, of course, swoops in and rescues her, then, as their unlikely love deepens, she saves him. 

Maxwell improvises brilliantly on Burroughs' indelible novel (recently handsomely reissued by the Library of America). In her eventful, keenly imagined, and thrilling tale of African life, colonial crimes, an opulent lost city, and "living missing links" (the primates who raised Tarzan, the orphaned Lord Greystoke), Maxwell also orchestrates glorious sexual awakenings in an Edenic jungle. With riveting action and suspense, earthy humor, a piquant look at the debate over evolution, and the love between heroic, resourceful, and tender Tarzan and smart, strong, and passionate Jane, this is lush and satisfying entertainment.


 The old “Me Tarzan, You Jane” dynamic established in Johnny Weissmuller movies gets a radical update by shining the spotlight on adventuress Jane Porter.

The author fully reinvents the character of Jane Porter, so often the “damsel-in-distress,” by making her a budding paleoanthropologist and giving her good reasons to explore the wilds of Africa. At 20-something, Porter is considered a spinster by her family, save her beloved father, a fellow scientist. They’re both intrigued when American Ral Conrath invites them to join an expedition to West Africa, luring them in with tales of the apelike, croc-killing creature with white skin. 

A neatly framed narrative finds Jane recounting her story to budding storyteller Burroughs during an encounter in Chicago in 1912. Meanwhile, flashbacks to 1905 find a rifle-wielding Jane nearly shooting Ral Conrath, a cad and corrupt treasure hunter, before falling into the arms of the missing Lord Greystoke and his tribal comrades (it’s worth using the Mangani-English glossary helpfully included). 

Maxwell ticks all the boxes, including offering up a hunky Tarzan, primeval jungle life and a bit of tasteful lust on Jane’s part. “You do not live in Africa, my dear,” she’s warned. “Africa lives in you.” Jane Goodall and Isak Dinesen would be right at home with Miss Jane Porter. 

A respectful, exciting and disarming update of one of the last century’s most oft-told tales.


JANE – Interview with Robin Maxwell
by Jan Ostegard ~ ~ August 31, 2012

Everyone knows that famous Tarzan yell (and I would bet anything you are attempting an impression right at this very moment). Well, what about Jane? How much do you know about the love of Tarzan’s life? For the first time in history, a woman author writes the story of Tarzan and Jane. How do you top that? Robin Maxwell tells the story from Jane’s point of view. Robin’s much anticipated book JANE: The Woman Who Loved Tarzan will be swinging onto bookshelves in a matter of days. Join us in celebrating the 100th anniversary of the creation of Tarzan.

EV: Welcome to Entertainment Vine, Robin.

Robin: Thanks so much for giving me the opportunity to talk about my ninth novel. It’s a really important one because I’ve “jumped genres” for the first time in my writing career. While JANE is still set in an historical period and I had to do lots of research like I’ve always done, it’s as much “women’s fiction” as it is a “romance” as it is a rip-roaring adventure (how could it not be? It’s a Tarzan classic).

EV: Your latest novel JANE: The Woman Who Loved Tarzan will be released on September 18th. How did you come up with the idea of writing this story from Jane’s point of view?

Robin: Tarzan was my first heartthrob. After all, what girl wouldn’t crave the undying affection of a gorgeously muscled, scantily clad he-man (and an English lord at that) living free from the confines of civilization in a lush paradise? Though I’d read Tarzan comic books, I’d never dipped into a single Edgar Rice Burroughs novel. Yet Tarzan and Jane were as hard-wired into my fantasy life and consciousness as any characters in popular culture.

“Sheena Queen of the Jungle” was my favorite TV show. And who didn’t love the Johnny Weissmuller Tarzan films with the peppery sophisticate Maureen O’Sullivan as his “mate,” Jane. I waited breathlessly for the film “Greystoke,” but was sorely disappointed by the filmmakers decision to keep their Jane (Andie MacDowell) from setting foot in Africa till the last frame of the movie. By 1999 when Disney made their animated “Tarzan” I’d stopped caring, and didn’t even bother going to see it.

I’d just completed my manuscript of O, JULIET when the question arose as to the subject of my next novel. I’d had a ball with my take on Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet,” fleshing out the characters, their world and families, and expanding the timeline from three days to three months. Riding down the road one day with my husband, Max, he wondered if I might want to choose another pair of literary lovers rather than historical characters. When I told him I liked the idea he asked who they would be. Not three seconds passed before I blurted out, “Tarzan and Jane!”

“Where did that come from?” Max wanted to know. At the time I had no memory of Sheena or the old Weissmuller/O’Sullivan movies, but the images must have been bubbling in the depths of my subconscious just waiting to erupt like magma from a dormant volcano. The more I thought about it, the better the idea became.

EV: You are the first woman to write a novel about Tarzan and Jane. Were you aware that this was uncharted territory?

Robin: Actually, no. I knew next-to-nothing about ERB’s novels (twenty-four of them) when the idea popped into my head. It was more about writing the book from a woman’s perspective than anything else. It wasn’t until I met with Jim Sullos, the president of the Burroughs estate and he filled me in on the history of the Tarzan books that I realized how few novels by writers other than Burroughs (of either sex) had been authorized. Unauthorized ones without the ERB copyright and trademark might get as far as bookstore shelves, but the estate would swoop in and have them removed. They were simply closed to the idea of adding any more books to the legacy. Jim told me that if I’d pitched the idea even the year before, I’d have had the door slammed in my face. New leadership at the company had only recently determined that the Tarzan legacy needed invigorating. It was then that I realized the luck of my timing and the very good fortune of being the very first woman allowed to tread on such hallowed ground.

EV: The beloved Jane Goodall celebrated your book as:

Finally an honest portrayal of the only woman of whom I have been really, really jealous. What a wonderful idea to write this book. Now I am jealous all over again!

What went through your mind when you heard this statement?

Robin: I wasn’t thinking at all while I was shrieking with joy and disbelief, reading that blurb because Jane Goodall has for so long been my real-life (and still living) heroine. The endorsement was incredibly difficult to get because she travels three hundred days a year. I’d actually given up hope of getting a quote at all. I knew that she considered Burroughs’s Jane “a wimp” and that she believed that she would have made a far better mate for Tarzan than the Jane Porter of the ERB novels. So for her to say what she did about my book — calling it an “honest portrayal” and using the word “jealous” twice…well, I thought I’d died and gone to Heaven.

EV: Edgar Rice Burroughs created Tarzan a century ago and now has generations of fans. What is it about the primitive side of human nature that fascinates us still to this day?

Robin: I think the primitive side of human nature is less about our fascination with it than it being hard-wired into each and every one of us. There’s a part of the brain called the limbic system which is sometimes called our “lizard brain.” I believe we’ve been so anesthetized by layers and layers of civilizing effects and intellectual armoring in our everyday lives that we are shielded from experiencing our primordial self. But when we rip into a juicy sparerib, have wild sex or enjoy a profound connection to nature (communing with an animal, swimming in a lake, river or ocean, even hike in the wilderness) that ancient part of our brain reasserts itself. We catch glimpses — body and soul – into the primitive side. We either revel in these feelings and abandon ourselves to them, or become uncomfortable and “pull ourselves together.” Strap on the armor.

The Jane in my novel comes from one of the most uptight times and societies in history, but she is an aberration. Even before she leaves for Africa Miss Porter is a tomboy who rides horses hard and rough-houses with her hounds. She knows how to swim, not just “bathe” like proper young ladies do, and she understand human anatomy. Because of the circumstances of her meeting Tarzan, they are on incredibly intimate terms immediately. So of all the women in the world she is, perhaps, the best-suited to revert to her primordial self and go wild with Tarzan in his jungle Eden.

EV: Sometimes Jane is portrayed as a ‘too smart for her own good’ character. What can we expect from your Jane?

Robin: I have to say that my Jane is the most “too smart for her own good” Jane ever written (or portrayed in the movies). Of course when this phrase is employed referring to women, it’s incredibly sexist. My Jane is far too intelligent, outspoken and ambitious for her time, but she wasn’t altogether alone. By this time such females were known as “New Women,” and it was believed that if there were enough of them they might actually bring down the British Empire. Happily, my Jane had role models — female explorers and adventurers like Mary Kingsley, Annie Smith Peck and Lady Jane Digby, and she voraciously read of their exploits. But her presence on the African expedition that stumbled on Tarzan would never had been possible without her extraordinary father, Archie Porter — a professor of anatomy at Cambridge University and an “enthusiastic amateur” in the field of paleoanthropology. He’s a progressive thinker who not only believes in women’s higher education, but depends on his daughter to assist him in his studies.

EV: Would you share a little about the importance of having strong female characters versus the more common ‘damsel in distress’?

Robin: I’ve been writing strong women ahead-of-their-time for so long now that I can’t imagine having a damsel in distress as a protagonist. The gutsy women (there were so many of them in history), besides being so much more interesting to write about, are the role models for future generations. More than ever, people — men and women alike — need to be strong to survive in this world. We all need to learn to stand on our own two feet, move forward fearlessly, practice kindness and compassion, and accomplish something in our life. That “something” can be anything from bringing up a child well to making a beautiful garden out of your backyard or rooftop, to teaching, to having a high-powered career, to making art, to rescuing animals. I hope that my heroines, whether real-life or fiction, inspire men as well as women to aspire to their personal best or perhaps to greatness. If you want to hear about eight hundred of the greatest sung and unsung females in history, read my dear friend Vicki Leon’s four volumes of UPPITY WOMEN (of The Ancient World; The Middle Ages; The Renaissance and The New World). They’re brilliantly researched and laugh-out-loud funny.

EV: Your previous books display a perfect blend of history mixed with fiction. How did you come up with this formula of storytelling? Do you begin a project by studying the historical elements, or with the emotional side of the characters?

Robin: Generally I find a female historical figure with a good story. I always look for “an angle,” since many of my women have been written about numerous times. A good example is SECRET DIARY OF ANNE BOLEYN, about Elizabeth I and her mother, Anne Bolyen. There had been countless renditions of both of them, but I discovered in my research that no historian had ever linked the two of them in any more than a single paragraph. Now here was a daughter who, by the age of twenty-five when she became Queen of England, had not spoken her mother’s name for twenty years, so tarnished was Queen Anne’s reputation (adulterer, whore, witch, traitor). Yet within a few years of taking the throne Elizabeth began wearing a locket with her mother’s miniature in it, and started honoring the Boleyn relatives that had made it through Henry VIII’s bloody reign alive. I asked myself: “Why did Elizabeth have that 180° change of heart? Had she learned something about her mother that caused the shift? Had she learned the truth about Anne? What is the best way to discover the truth about someone? Read their diary! People don’t lie in their diaries. So I “wrote” Anne Boleyn’s diary and put it in Elizabeth’s hands just after she’d taken the throne. Reading it changes the course of Elizabeth’s life.

Or I find a fabulous female character that no one has heard of, like Grace O’Malley — the Pirate Queen who was Elizabeth I’s rival, but most importantly the “Mother of the Irish Rebellion.” Massive research into the women’s parallel lives produced one of my proudest creations, THE WILD IRISH.

In the case of SIGNORA DA VINCI I began by wishing to write about Leonardo da Vinci, the most brilliant and fascinating man in history…but my publishers wanted a book from a woman’s point of view. Leonardo didn’t have a wife, a daughter, a mistress or a sister. He, of course, had a mother, but history tells us next-to-nothing about Caterina of Vinci. There’s loads to read about Leonardo and 1,080 pages of his own writings on every imaginable subject. There’s also scads of material about the Italian Renaissance, Florence, the Medici family, other artists of the period like Botticelli, as well as the great philosophers. So I “extrapolated” the character of Caterina from the facts that I DID know, particularly about Leonardo – but largely out of thin air, and once again SIGNORA DA VINCI is one of my favorite and most satisfying creations.

EV: How long does it typically take you to research and write a first draft?

Robin: Anywhere between four months to eighteen months. The shorter books are generally ones for which I’ve done research in the period and/or about the characters (like THE VIRGIN ELIZABETH; TO THE TOWER BORN and O, JULIET). Some just about write themselves.

EV: Do you have a special way to recover from writer’s block?

Robin: That one’s easy. I always write a book from a detailed outline, chronologically. If I find that I’m stuck on a particular chapter for any length of time, I just stop writing it. I look ahead to a place in the outline that I’m really excited about and go to work on that. I might leave the “blocked part” till the very end. This has never failed to solve my writers block. I’ve learned that places I bump up against and have to skip over are scenes and chapters that involve violence, particularly against women.

EV: What advice would you give writers who are working toward publishing their first book?

Robin Maxwell at a Book Signing for JANE at the 2012 San Diego Comic-Con
ERBzine 3918  |  ERBzine 3919

Robin: In this climate, only pursue getting a book published if you cannot live without writing. I could no more stop storytelling than I could stop breathing. If you enjoy writing, then by all means write. But things have gotten so difficult in the publishing world that you must want your book published as much as life itself if it’s not going to be a monumental waste of your time and lifeforce. If you go forward, start developing a very, very thick skin. These days, even the best (and bestselling) authors face scathing rejection and disappointment some of the time. It was much easier to get published fifteen years ago when I got started. Even then, SECRET DIARY was rejected by thirty-six publishers. The mega-bestselling author Michael Connelly told me (after I’d bragged about my rejections) that he’d had a hundred and twenty-three agents turn down his first manuscript! The good news today is that if you cannot find a “legacy publisher,” you can self-publish to eBook. There are loads of stories of successes in that arena. In fact, I’m considering self-publishing myself.

EV: You host a “Book Club Weekend Getaway” in the California desert. What can guests expect from their weekend with you?

Robin: I believe this is a first. So many women enjoy their afternoon a month with their book clubs, but imagine a whole weekend away in a high desert paradise. There are majestic vistas, perfect quiet, wildlife abounding, the Milky Way at night, five-star accommodations, gourmet meals, a magical mystery tour to a natural “Disneyland for adults,” and a touch of yoga from one of the great American yogis (my husband, Max Thomas). Add to this a long leisurely discussion one morning about a great book that you’ve already read (perhaps mine, perhaps from another fabulous author), and the next morning a peek inside the dynamic (some say chaotic) but always exciting world of publishing. Bring your entire book club or become part of a new group created especially for the weekend. You can find out more about the “Book Club Weekend Getaway” at, or about additional nearby lodgings (all friends and neighbors of ours) at

EV: Would you tell our readers how they can participate in the ‘You Tarzan, Me Jane’ contest?

Robin: This is an incredible opportunity for two exquisite male and female models to become the newest jungle lovers, Tarzan and Jane! If chosen, you will be featured as the face of my novel, JANE: THE WOMAN WHO LOVED TARZAN as the STARS of my Hollywood book signing at Book Soup on September 21, 2012. Winners will be chosen by an elite celebrity judging panel. To enter, please send photos in swimsuit or “jungle wear” to: or contact Eileen Koch & Company Inc. (310) 441-1000, or

EV: One last question, if you were stranded in the jungle what is one necessity that you could not live without?

Robin: I’m tempted to say “insect repellant,” but my primordial self would have to answer “food and water.”

EV: Thank you for taking the time to discuss Jane: The Woman Who Loved Tarzan with us today.

*For more information on Robin please visit her official site and pick up your copy of JANE on September 18th. You can also follow Robin on Twitter and Facebook.


Me Jane
Written by Robin Maxwell ~ September 10, 2012

When Tor’s art department presented me with Mark Summers’s amazing cover art, I was a bit thrown. All earlier concepts had included Tarzan, and here he was nowhere to be found except in the subtitle. Yet my gut reaction to the image was overwhelmingly positive. “Yes!” I thought, this was the Jane I’d written—at least as she’d evolved during the course of the book, from a dignified, if tomboyish, Edwardian young lady into a woman who could survive in an African jungle, hunting, fighting, and brachiating through the liana. In short, a “fit mate” for Tarzan.

Here, staring out at me from my book cover, was a powerful, feline female who looked as though if anyone messed with her ape man she would snatch him bald. I liked that. In the next months, when things got hairy, as they always do in the run-up to publishing a book, I’d find myself gazing at the cover, and it would always cheer me up. I was proud that this was the image that would introduce the world to my novel. I started taking strenth from this rendition of Jane Porter. I was slowly being moved by her fierceness and fearlessness.

And it was a good thing, too, because 2012 is Tarzan’s 100th anniversary year, and through my close association with the Edgar Rice Burroughs estate, I was invited to be a panelist at San Diego Comic-Con. I’ve been a public speaker for fifteen years, but nothing I’d experienced could prepare me for what I knew this convention would be.

In prepping for it, I was suddenly using the cover image in myriad ways—postcards, book plates, and a large poster—to support my panel and a book signing at the Tor Books booth. Everywhere I looked, there was Jane staring back at me, compelling me to “woman-up” and face the mobs and strange creatures of the high-tech jungle in San Diego.

The sight of her everywhere buoyed me, excited me, made me consider crazy things. On a shopping expedition for my Comic-Con wardrobe I found myself eying a little tee-shirt dress in a quite beautiful leopard pattern. With Jane whispering in my ear, I grabbed it off the rack and took it home. My husband, Max, watched that night as I took the scissors to it, cutting out one arm and giving it a jagged, pelt-like hem. When I put it on with black pants and a stone necklace it looked kind of cool. But all my friends warned me – “Do not wear that thing to Comic-Con. You’ll look like an idiot!” They drowned out Jane’s voice…and I chickened out. However, I packed it up and brought it with me anyway.

I spent my first morning at SDCC2012 handing out postcards and signing book plates. A pretty young woman who’d taken a card from me strongly evoked the spirit of Jane and with a sudden burst of courage, I blurted out, “Would you put on a Jane outfit and help me promote my book?!”

My jungle instincts had proven true. Heidi Hilliker was not in costume when we met, but on Saturday she was going to transform herself into her favorite heroine, Wonder Woman. She was game to be Jane for an hour. In the ladies’ room, I whipped out the dress. She looked sensational in it! At the book signing she held up my poster proudly, attracting many admiring stares. I cursed myself for not being brave enough to wear the tog myself.

Once Comic-Con was behind us, the Fates provided me with one more chance to prove my strength and daring. Steve Brown, the publisher of a wonderful Southern California arts and entertainment magazine, The Sun Runner, was intrigued by Jane and the story of how—with the help of Max, a 35-year veteran yoga teacher, and much-beloved figure in our community—I had come to write it. Steve, a pretty out-there guy himself, suggested we pose as Tarzan and Jane for the cover of the “Desert Writers Issue” of his magazine.

Again, friends cautioned us against it. But this time the spirits of Jane and the ape man punched through and cried, “Go for it!” I fashioned Max a nifty little loincloth for his still incredible seventy-year-old body, and put on my outfit. At the 29 Palm Inn oasis, hiding the unfortunate parts of my anatomy with a giant palm frond, we took deep breaths and went native. Here’s the result.

This year marks Tarzan's 100th anniversary, and we have just the book for it — take a look at Jane: The Woman Who Loved Tarzan by Robin Maxwell, out on September 18:

Cambridge, England, 1905. Jane Porter is hardly a typical woman of her time. The only female student in Cambridge University’s medical program, she is far more comfortable in a lab coat dissecting corpses than she is in a corset and gown sipping afternoon tea. A budding paleoanthropologist, Jane dreams of traveling the globe in search of fossils that will prove the evolutionary theories of her scientific hero, Charles Darwin.

When dashing American explorer Ral Conrath invites Jane and her father to join an expedition deep into West Africa, she can hardly believe her luck. Africa is every bit as exotic and fascinating as she has always imagined, but Jane quickly learns that the lush jungle is full of secrets—and so is Ral Conrath. When danger strikes, Jane finds her hero, the key to humanity’s past, and an all-consuming love in one extraordinary man: Tarzan of the Apes.

Jane is the first version of the Tarzan story written by a woman and authorized by the Edgar Rice Burroughs estate. Its publication marks the centennial of the original Tarzan of the Apes.

Chicago Public Library, April 1912

The Woman Who Loved Tarzan
Robin Maxwell

An Excerpt  ~ Ref: TOR.COM


Tarzan And I Swing By Comic-Con
Part II: The Naked Truth About Tarzan and Jane
Meet the Author: Robin Maxwell
JANE: The Woman Who Loved Tarzan ~ Book Excerpts
Tarzan Never Dies, Part I: 100 Years of Books and Movies
Tarzan Never Dies, Part II: Will There Ever Be A Great Tarzan Movie?
Jane: Queen of the Jungle
Edgar Rice Burroughs and Darwin Revisited: The Science of Jane
JANE: Reviews ~ Photos ~ Video
2013 Reader Reviews

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