Words To That Effect #39 | Edgar Rice Burroughs

Edgar Rice Burroughs is not, it’s fair to say, a hugely familiar name these days. Like many other authors, the fame of his greatest creation, in his case Tarzan, has long eclipsed his own.

But Burroughs was far more than the creator of Tarzan.

He was an early pioneer of science fiction, a master of the pulp fiction magazines of the early 20th century, an author whose books, across his lifetime and beyond, sold tens of millions of copies. He was also, among a bewildering array of other things, a journalist, a soldier and war correspondent, a businessman, and even a real estate investor: the ranch he bought and developed in the 1920s is, today, the aptly named neighbourhood of Tarzana, California.

So who was Edgar Rice Burroughs? Why were his books so popular? And has his work had any real lasting legacy on our culture today?

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