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American writer, Edgar Rice Burroughs (1875-1950), was in kinship care for six months as a teenager. Edgar Rice Burroughs was born in Chicago. When Edgar was fifteen years old, he was sent to stay for six months with relatives on a farm in Idaho as protection from a flu epidemic.  

…it was in Idaho, as he liked to claim, that he acquired a lifelong love of the great outdoors, hobnobbed with cowpokes, and became himself an expert ‘trick’ horseman and handy with a six-gun (Sullivan, 296). 

His father was a successful businessman and could afford to send him to private schools. According to the Edgar Rice Burroughs website 

He attended half a dozen public and private schools before he finally graduated in 1895 from Michigan Military Academy, an institution Burroughs himself described as “a polite reform school.” 

After serving in the Seventh US Cavalry, he did a variety of jobs, none of them very well. 

He became a cowboy in Idaho, then a shopkeeper, a railroad policeman, a gold miner, and even an “expert accountant”, although he knew nothing of the profession. Throughout this period he somehow raised money for a number of his own businesses, all of which sank without a trace (Edgar Rice Burroughs). 

At age thirty-five Burroughs was broke and desperate. He set himself up in business as an agency for pencil sharpeners and began writing his first story, Under the Moons of Mars, which he sold for $400. 

With the publication of Tarzan of the Apes in 1912, first in the All-Story Magazine and then in book form two years later, Burroughs’ career as a writer was established. 

A torrent of novels followed; stories about Mars, Venus, Apaches, westerns, social commentaries, detective stories, tales of the Moon and of the middle of the Earth–and more and more TARZAN books. By the time his pen was stilled, nearly 100 stories bore Edgar Rice Burroughs™’ name (Edgar Rice Burroughs). 

During WWII Burroughs became a war correspondent for the Los Angeles Times; he was sixty-six years old.

By the time he died in 1950, Edgar Rice Burroughs had written more than seventy novels. He was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 2003.


“Biography.” Edgar Rice Burroughs. 

“Edgar Rice Burroughs American Novelist.” Encyclopaedia Britannica. 

Sutherland, John. Lives of the Novelists. A history of fiction in 294 lives. London: Profile Books, 2013 

Edgar Rice Burroughs. 

Image available here.