Edgar Rice Burroughs was an American author, best known for his creation of the jungle hero Tarzan and the heroic 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 Major George Tyler Burroughs (1833-1913), a businessman and Civil War veteran, and his wife, Mary Evaline (Zieger) Burroughs (1840-1920).
Burroughs was educated at a number of local schools, and during the Chicago influenza epidemic in 1891, he spent half a year at his brother's ranch on the Raft River in Idaho. He then attended 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 at West Point, he became 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.
By 1911, after seven years of low wages, he was working as a pencil-sharpener wholesaler and began to write fiction. By this time, he and Emma had two children, Joan (1908-1972), who later married the Tarzan film actor James Pierce, and Hulbert (1909-1991).
Burroughs was in his late 60s and was in Honolulu at the time of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Despite his age, he applied for and received permission to become a war correspondent, becoming one of the oldest U.S. war correspondents during World War II. This period of his life is mentioned in William Brinkley's bestselling novel Don't Go Near the Water.
American actor Reid Markel is Burroughs' great-great-grandson.