Edgar Rice Burroughs (September 1, 1875 - March 19, 1950) was an American writer, best known for his creations of the jungle hero Tarzan and the heroic Mars adventurer John Carter, although he produced works in many genres.
Burroughs was born on September 1, 1875, in Chicago, Illinois (he later lived for many years in the suburb of Oak Park), the fourth son of businessman and Civil War veteran Major George Tyler Burroughs (1833-1913) and his wife Mary Evaline (Zieger) Burroughs (1840-1920). His middle name is from his paternal grandmother, Mary Rice Burroughs (1802-ca. 1870).
Burroughs was educated at a number of local schools, and during the Chicago influenza epidemic in 1891, he spent a half year at his brother's ranch on the Raft River in Idaho. He then attended the Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, and then the Michigan Military Academy. Graduating in 1895, and failing the entrance exam for the United States Military Academy (West Point), he ended up as an enlisted soldier with the 7th U.S. Cavalry in Fort Grant, Arizona Territory. After being diagnosed with a heart problem and thus ineligible to serve, he was discharged in 1897.
Some seemingly unrelated short jobs followed. Some drifting and ranch work followed in Idaho. Then, Burroughs found work at his father's firm in 1899. He married childhood sweetheart Emma Hulbert in January 1900. In 1904 he left his job and found less regular work; some in Idaho, later in Chicago.
Bookplate of Edgar Rice Burroughs showing Tarzan holding the planet Mars, surrounded by other characters from Burroughs's stories and symbols relating to his personal interests and career
By 1911, after seven years of low wages, he was working as a pencil sharpener wholesaler and began to write fiction. By this time, Burroughs and Emma had two children, Joan (1908-1972), who would later marry Tarzan film actor James Pierce, and Hulbert (1909-1991). During this period, he had copious spare time and he began reading many pulp fiction magazines.