Beyond The Narrator

Once an investigation is launched, it does not take long for one to realize that Edgar Rice Burroughs, the author, is not the same person as Edgar Rice Burroughs, the narrator.  Both lives, however, are very similar and often intertwine.

The narrator was born in the year 1855, the author was born in 1875.  The narrator was more than likely born at his parent's plantation about two hours, by train, from Richmond, Virginia.  The author was born in Chicago, Illinois.  The narrator visited Africa on more than one occasion, the author never went to Africa.

From the above differences it is quite obvious the narrator is not Edgar Rice Burroughs, the author. If not, just who is he?

In the Forward of A Princess of Mars it is plainly revealed that the narrator is actually the great nephew of John Carter of Mars.  In The Chessmen Of Mars John Carter makes the statement about the narrator.  "the same blood runs in our veins."  Once more in Llana Of Gathol the narrator said this to John Carter.  "There are my children.  They are your blood kin."

It is interesting to note that in The Virginia Dynasties - The Emergence of  "King" Carter And The Golden Age, by Clifford Dowdey, (1969, Little, Brown & Co., Boston), the name John Carter is a very famous name in the history of Virginia.  The first of four John Carter's came to Virginia from London, England around 1649.  He came to America to represent the Carter family, who were wine merchants.

A second John Carter, who was also a wine merchant, came from Christchurch Parish, London. This John Carter was probably the largest landholder of the time.  He had a total of five wives, and he named his first son John Carter II (third Virginia John Carter).   Another son of the second John Carter of Virginia was named, Robert, who became known as, King Carter, the richest man in the colonies and the most powerful politically.  Robert Carter's first son became the fourth John Carter of Virginia.

The first time the narrator's life and that of the author's intertwine, is found in A Princess Of Mars. In the Forward the narrator states, "The Burroughs family was of Puritan stock and were known to posses a fine stable of horses."  This is very close to the real life statement the author once made, "the red blood of the Puritan and the Pioneer" flowed in their veins.

In The Eternal Lover the narrator came in contact with Barney and Victoria Custer of Beatrice, Nebraska.  This is also the hometown of the author's life long friend, Herbert (Bert) T. Weston, who he met at Phillips Academy.

In The Chessmen Of Mars an eleven year old boy, Shea, is introduced as a whiz at the game of chess. In the author's life John A. Shea was his secretary between 1919 and 1923.  The two often played chess, but the author was usually the winner.

In Pirates Of Venus it is stated that the narrator's secretary is named Ralph Rothmund.  The author's secretary, who started in 1927, was also named Ralph Rothmund.

In Pirates Of Venus the narrator experiences a visit by a ghostly female image.  While working for his brothers in Idaho, the author, was a bystander in a saloon brawl.  One way or another the author managed to get in the way of a policeman's billy club and received a severe blow on the head which hospitalized him.  For a long time afterwards the author complained of dizziness and reported having strange hallucinations.

In later years the author even wrote to the Boston Society for Psychic Research about the incident which the following is part of.  "In 1899 I received a heavy blow on the head which, while it opened up the scalp, did not fracture the skull, nor did it render me unconscious, but for six weeks or two months thereafter I was the victim of hallucinations, always after I had retired at night when I would see figures standing beside my bed, usually shrouded.  I invariably set up and reached for them, but my hands went through them.  I knew they were hallucinations caused by my injury and did not connect them in any way with the supernatural, in which I do not believe."

It is revealed in Swords Of Mars that the narrator sleeps with a .45 Colt automatic under his pillow. In Jim Pierce's (ERB's son-in-law) autobiography it is revealed that the author also slept with a .45 automatic under his pillow.  The author's international fame had made him fearful of kidnapping and assassination.

The Moon Maid reveals a host of beyond coincidental dates.  Julian 9th was born on January 1, which is the author's first wife's, Emma's, birthday.  Julian 12th was born on September1, which is the other's birthday.  Julian 20th was born on August 12, which is the birthday of the author's second child, Hulbert Burroughs.

There is a possible chance that the secondary figure, L. Bridge, who appeared in The Mucker and The Oakdale Affair is a Carter.  In chapter four of The Mucker it is revealed the hobo friend of Billy Byrne was born of a well-to-do family.  He was well educated and could read and write Spanish, and spoke it passably.  Barbara Harding considered him a well-bred gentleman.  In March 1918 Blue Book Magazine version of The Oakdale Affair there are two extra pages that did not appear in the book version.  Here we learn that Bridge comes from one of the finest families of Virginia, and one of the wealthiest.

All fiction aside.  I personally feel the best why to provide dates for unprovided ones in a Tarzan chronology is by using the Burroughs' own family genealogy.  It has long been common knowledge about the special interest the Burroughs family had in their linage.  Edgar Rice Burroughs' mother, Mary Evaline, went so far as to write a family ancestry entitled Memoirs Of A War Bride, June 23, 1914, which she gave to each of her sons.  This special interest in family genealogy has caused Burroughs to insert true family dates, names, as well as friends, into his fiction stories.

When Burroughs gave the narrator the pseudonym of Edgar Rice Burroughs, the author, was well aware that a researcher would discover that he and the narrator were not the same person.  What Burroughs was doing in real life was having fun purposefully providing family and friend's names, and dates from his true life family genealogy into his fiction stories.

The fictional narrator and the fictional John Carter, in true life, most probably had roots on Burroughs' mother's side of the family, the Coleman's.  Mary Evaline kept a military record of the Coleman family, and during the American Revolution there were six  Coleman's serving in the Virginia military.  Jacob Coleman, Richard Coleman, Samuel Coleman, Whitehead Coleman, Wyatt Coleman and John McCulloch Coleman (Burroughs' great grandfather).  Thomas McCulloch on Burroughs' mother's father's side was also in a Virginia Regiment.

Burroughs was definitely aware of his proud southern heritage.  On his copy of The Military Record Of The Coleman Family During The War Of The Revolution, dated September 13, 1900 he signed, "This Record Belongs To E.R. Burroughs."  So proud in fact, that he eventually named one of his son's John Coleman Burroughs, and with this carried on the JC tradition. 

James Michael Moody