Master of Adventure: The Worlds of Edgar Rice Burroughs

By Richard A. Lupoff | Go to book overview
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“I am sorry that I have not led a more exciting existence, so that I might offer a more interesting biographical sketch; but I am one of those fellows who has few adventures and always gets to the fire after it is out.

“I was born in Peking at the time that my father was military advisor to the Empress of China and lived there, in the Forbidden City, until I was ten years old. An intimate knowledge of the Chinese language acquired during these years has often stood me in good stead since, especially in prosecuting two of my favorite studies, Chinese philosophy and Chinese ceramics.”

With these eyebrow-raising words, the son of a Chicago distiller once began a short, and purportedly autobiographical, manuscript which he appropriately entitled: Edgar Rice Burroughs, Fiction Writer.

The elder Mr. Burroughs did his distilling not in the liquor industry but in the manufacture of batteries, and it is reasonable to assume that his imperial military contacts with Peking were somewhat less than few. His son, the “fiction writer” responsible for that delicious cock-and-bull story, was a man who enjoyed life to the fullest, and who loved to regale his friends and readers with the fruits of a sense of humor paralleling that of Irvin S. Cobb or even Mark Twain.2

I never met Edgar Rice Burroughs, and yet I feel that I have known him all my life. Perhaps—although I doubt it—it could have something to do with the fact that our family lines brushed together in Sudbury, Massachusetts

1. Henry Hardy Heins, LHD, passed away on October 1, 2003, at the age of seventy-nine. His contributions to Burroughs scholarship, most notably the Golden Anniversary Bibliography, were of immeasurable value and importance. The Bibliography, both in its original editions and in facsimile reprints, remains a seminal work. A Lutheran minister, a scholar, and a historian, Heins was the author of works ranging from the evolution and comparative texts of Christian hymns, to volumes on banking law, philately, and the Canadian railway system. He was truly a Renaissance man, and those who knew him personally were privileged to do so.

2. Originally appeared in Bob Wagner's Script magazine. Reprinted in Irwin Porges, Edgar Rice Burroughs: The Man Who Created Tarzan (Provo UT: Brigham Young University Press, 1975).


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