Edgar Rice Burroughs, September 2023


Edgar Rice Burroughs (1875-1950)

     What images come to mind when you think of Edgar Rice Burroughs?  Johnny Weissmuller's jungle call or perhaps Tarzan swinging on a vine?  Tarzan was such an enduring character that after first appearing in the 1912 novel Tarzan of the Apes, Burroughs wrote 24 sequels and there are 61 films that include the Tarzan character!  Tarzan became an iconic character, on par with Sherlock Holmes. Yet Burroughs was so much more than the creator of Tarzan.  A few months before the appearance of Tarzan, in his first published novel, Under the Moons of Mars, ERB introduced us to John Carter, Dejah Thoris (The Princess of Mars) and the world of Barsoom, under the pseudonym Norman Bean (he submitted the story as by “Normal Bean” but the editor thought that was an error and changed it to Norman). He would continue his planetary romance saga for another ten books and would also go on to explore the worlds of Venus, the inner earth of Pellucidar and many other imaginative places.
     Burroughs influenced many authors (and imitators), including Ray Bradbury who would say “Edgar Rice Burroughs never would have looked upon himself as a social mover and shaker with social obligations. But as it turns out – and I love to say it because it upsets everyone terribly – Burroughs is probably the most influential writer in the entire history of the world." and "By giving romance and adventure to a whole generation of boys, Burroughs caused them to go out and decide to become special." (Interview with Sam Weller). “…because Burroughs had a genius for highly-energized literalizations of dream-worlds, they have endured.” – David Pringle/John Clute, from the Science Fiction Encyclopedia online.
     Burroughs was a popular and prolific writer penning nearly 80 novels. Our list here (the majority new to stock) are primarily first editions, a wide selection with many in dust jacket and a number of signed or inscribed books by Burroughs.




An important book series which influenced a new generation who would become science fiction enthusiasts and collectors

The Winston series, know as the “Winston juveniles,” started in 1952. The series was announced in Publisher’s Weekly (January 26, 1952): “Five compelling tales designed TO SELL to the expanding science fiction market! Only writers who have won the respect of the science fiction audience have been signed to write these accurate yet absorbing books. Each contains an explanation of new terms and a discussion of its scientific aspects…for all ages.”

The series had a uniform look with its rocket ship logo and endpapers (for the first editions) by Alex Schomburg. They were perfect for the time. Boys adventure novels with a science fiction element, with entertaining stories and terrific period artwork for the dust jackets. This was aimed at moving an audience away from the old pulp marketplace to new respectability. They were the total package.

 The books were edited by Cecile Matschat and Carl Carmer, although neither had a background in science fiction. Behind the scenes was Lester Del Rey who not only wrote nine of the novels but supposedly supplied outlines for many of the books. Of further note is that the series published the first hardcover novels of Jack Vance, Evan Hunter (who achieved much fame with his Ed McBain pseudonym), Poul Anderson, Ben Bova, Chad Oliver, Donald A. Wollheim and Lester Del Rey.

 While originally called children’s novels these were later explicitly described by the publisher for a teen-age audience. So these become an early example of what would later become known as the YA novel. Which today is a huge market.

 This period was a burgeoning time for science fiction. The mainstream publishers had started releasing science fiction novels on a regular basis, notably Doubleday, who had in their stable of authors Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov and Robert A. Heinlein’s adult novels. Other publishers were also releasing science fiction geared towards a young audience, but clearly Winston was a leader, for during the 1950’s they accounted for one quarter of the science fiction published for children.

 “Children’s science fiction, as it exists today, is indebted to the Winston Science Fiction Series, for the success of the Series not only demonstrated the existence of a real market for hard-cover children’s science fiction but also brought exposure and respectability which significantly aided in the genre’s eventual acceptance by mainstream children’s literature.” – Francis J. Molson (“The Winston Science Fiction Series and the Development of Children’s Science Fiction,” in Extropolation, Vol. 25, #1, Spring 1984).




AN ARKHAM HOUSE ARCHIVE: An important archive of material from the from the files of August Derleth, publisher and editor.