Edgar Rice Burroughs - Literary Archive


We know of no comparable collection of Burroughs material in private hands today. This archive materially adds to the known history of Burroughs and his work. It includes many original, unique and unpublished items – from correspondence to wartime reporting to notes for his Apache novels, an unpublished illustrated account of a cross-country trip in 1916, an unpublished play fragment, and more.

Burroughs has been one of the most popular writers in American literature and an influential figure as well; his impact has been pervasive and ongoing. Many writers, such as Ray Bradbury, Arthur C. Clarke, and others have credited him with being an inspiration, or even with triggering their decision to become a writer. The prominent scientist Carl Sagan said that reading Burroughs led him to his career as an astronomer studying the cosmos. And filmmakers George Lucas, who created Star Wars, and Steven Spielberg--creator of E.T., Jurassic Park and Raiders of the Lost Ark, among many others--have both cited Burroughs as a major inspiration for their work.

ERB, 1928.

It can be hard to recognize how much we owe Burroughs: Tarzan was not only an adventure story, but an environmental morality tale with a critique of industrial society and an image of the "natural" man. And although Burroughs is sometimes thought of these days as a writer for children or teenagers--a writer from a simpler, less sophisticated era than our own--one can find in his writing the antecedents of many contemporary strains of thought, including assumptions about who we are and our place in the world. The value of an unsullied natural environment and the sympathy for the animal kingdom mark Burroughs as ecologically-minded long before that term came into common use. Even his Westerns and space operas have a moral dimension in which the Western, "civilized" values and view of life are called into question and challenged.

Above all, Burroughs the writer was an entertainer, and in his creative life we see the beginnings of today's modern entertainment industry: he "branded" both himself and his creations, most especially Tarzan, and he diversified from pulp magazines and novels into radio, films, comic strips and pioneered the commercial product tie-in. As in most of Hollywood--where much of his work came into being in its most popular and accessible form--we find in Burroughs the intersection of art and commerce, the alpha and omega of contemporary culture.

The asking price for the archive is $375,000.