The Full Moons Of Tarzan

Anyone that tries to form a chronology of the Tarzan series will quickly learn that Edgar Rice Burroughs does not provide all the dates needed to do so.  Not only does the author leave out needed dates, he actually provides different dates for the same event.  In Tarzan Of The Apes Burroughs informs us the jungle lord seen his first man at age eighteen.  Yet in The Return Of Tarzan Burroughs tells us the ape boy was fifteen when he sees his first man. The Son Of Tarzan is completely out of time alignment with the rest of the books in the series.  In Tarzan The Untamed  Burroughs provides a fictional date for a named real life battle that is different than the historical date.  Burroughs did keep a writing diary, but the author did not always write the stories in a correct chronology order.

Fortunately there are other outside sources which can help the Greystoke chronologist provide some of Burroughs' missing dates.  One source is the Burroughs family genealogy.  As I have pointed out in previous articles, it was a regular habit for the author to insert family dates, family names, friend's names, co-workers names etc,.into his stories.  Burroughs went so far as to loan his name to John Carter's great nephew in the Forward in A Princess Of Mars and many other writings.

A great overlooked dating tool for Jungle Tales of Tarzan is the birth and growth of Gazan, Teeka's balu.  Assuming the Mangani and gorilla are close on the evolutionary scale, as Burroughs' descriptions suggest, a researcher can easily provide a time line for the short stories that would otherwise be impossible.

Mother Nature is another great dating source.  The biggest undated clue in the series is the lunar eclipse that occurs at the end of Jungle Tales Of Tarzan.  Since there is no lunar eclipses occurring in Portuguese Angola between 1907 through 1909 this single event proves the jungle lord could not have been born in 1888 as told in chapter 1 of Tarzan Of The Apes.  Also, if a chronologist is paying attention Burroughs mentions rain from time to time throughout the series. If a researcher applies Tarzan's location to the rainy seasons much can be learned for revealing unprovided dates.

Another great nature time clock that can help a chronologist discover unprovided dates is the full moons mentioned in Tarzan Of The Apes and Jungle Tales Of Tarzan.  To provide an untold
date with a working date I depend on the fact that Burroughs consistently tells us in many passages throughout Tarzan Of The Apes and Jungle Tales Of Tarzan that the ape man goes to Mbonga's village on the full moon to watch the natives dance and to replenish his arrows and other wants.

On September 28, 1890, a Sunday, Tarzan kills Kulonga and he discovers Mbonga's village.  That night, a full, moon, the ape man experiences the way of black men.  Burroughs does not explicitly say during that first visit the ape man watched the natives dance, but as one continues to read we discover that by the jungle lord's third visit to Mbonga's village, as reported in Jungle Tales Of Tarzan, that the ape man has already developed the love of watching the natives dance.

"Although he hated them, Tarzan derived considerable entertainment in watching them at their daily life within the village, and especially at their dances, when the fires glared against their naked bodies as they leaped and turned and twisted in mimic warfare."  ERB-Jungle Tales Of Tarzan.

"These various escapades again so terrorized the blacks that, had it not been for the monthly respite between Tarzan's visits, in which they had opportunity to renew hope that each fresh incursion would prove the last, they soon would have abandoned their new village."  ERB-Tarzan Of The Apes.

"Once every moon Tarzan would go swinging rapidly back through the swaying branches to have a day with his books and  to replenish his supply of arrows."  ERB-Tarzan Of The Apes.

From Burroughs' own provided descriptions we now know that Tarzan goes to Mbonga's village once a month, on the full moon, to watch the natives dance and to replenish his weapons.  Using the Perpetual Moon Calendar / Kabbalah - Vedanta Network I looked up the full moons visible in Portuguese Angola from the ape man's first visit to Mbonga's village, brought on by the killing of Kala, until the French sailors burn down Mbonga's village.  You can visit this fantastic full moon site on the internet at

Below is a list of the full moon dates Tarzan would have visited Mbonga's village.

  • September 28, 1890 Sunday
  • October 28, 1890 Tuesday
  • November 26, 1890 Wednesday
  • December 26, 1890 Friday
  • January 25, 1891 Sunday
  • February 23, 1891 Monday
  • March 25, 1891 Wednesday
  • April 24, 1891 Friday
  • May 23, 1891 Saturday
  • June 22, 1891 Monday
  • July 21, 1891 Tuesday
  • August 19, 1891 Tuesday
  • September 18, 1891 Friday
  • October 17, 1891 Saturday
  • November 16, 1891 Monday
  • December 15, 1891 Tuesday
  • January 14, 1892 Thursday
  • February 12, 1892 Friday
  • March 13, 1892 Sunday
  • April 12, 1892 Tuesday
  • May 11, 1892 Wednesday
  • June 10, 1892 Friday
  • July 10, 1892 Sunday
  • August 8, 1892 Monday
  • September 6, 1892 Tuesday
  • October 6, 1892 Thursday
  • November 4, 1892 Friday
  • December 4, 1892 Sunday
  • January 2, 1893 Monday
  • February 1, 1893 Wednesday (Tarzan did not visit)
  • March 2, 1893

Under normal circumstances Tarzan would have visited Mbonga's village on February 1, 1893 but for some unprovided reason the ape man did not go.  On January 23, 1893 Tarzan defeated Terkoz, his foster brother, in combat and gave up his ape kingship.  January 25 through February 2, 1893 the jungle lord remained at the Greystoke cabin by the sea recovering from his wounds.  On the morning of February 2, the day after his normal visitation, Tarzan made his way towards Mbonga's village,

On the way to the village the ape man runs into three of Mbonga's warriors.  Tarzan kills Mirando, and steals his loincloth & weapons, but allows the other two warriors to escape back to Mbonga's village unharmed.  This is the day that Tarzan clothed himself permanently.  Anything before then was experimentation.  

Tarzan carries Mirando's body back to Mbonga's village and drops the body into the streets causing the terrified natives to flee.  Once they were gone the jungle lord filled his belly and took what he wanted.  Upon exiting the village the jungle lord positioned the dead body of Mirando in such a manner as to further terrify the natives.  All this was done during afternoon daylight which was not Tarzan's normalcy.  Still daylight the jungle lord returns to the Greystoke cabin to find white men there.  This event happens one day before the writing of Jane's letter which is dated February 3 (?).

James Michael Moody