The Making Of The Bandit Of Hell's Bend

In the latter part of 1922 Edgar Rice Burroughs was relayed a message through his British agent Curtis Brown.  It had been suggested by Sir Algernon Methuen, owner of the British Methuen publishing company, that he write a western.  Since Edgar Rice Burroughs himself had been a cowboy in Idaho and Arizona the idea excited him and in October 1922 he responded.  "I have never written a wild west story,  although I think I could do it,.."

Modest Stein


In spite of the fact that Edgar Rice Burroughs had self confidence in his own ability his business side caused him to seek advice from Bob Davis, editor of Argosy All-Story Weekly.  Davis responded with strong encouragement.  "You seem to be pretty well equipped to handle rough men, wild animals, and coarse country.  I would print a western story from you in a minute.  Let'er go."

Modest Stein


On March 31, 1923 Edgar Rice Burroughs contacted Brown and reported the western was underway. At first The Black Coyote and Diana Of The Bar Y was considered for titles, but they were eventually dropped for its current title The Bandit Of Hell's Bend.  By the end of May the 81,000 word story was completed.

Boris Vallejo


Edgar Rice Burroughs' first western contained many of the true life people he had  met on his brother's ranch in Idaho, and when he was in the 7th Cavalry in Arizona.  Bull, the hero, is derived from Colonel "Bull" Summer of Fort Grant.  The Black Coyote was based on an actual bandit called Black Jack.  Gum Smith, the cowardly sheriff and saloon keeper, is based on the true life Gum Brown.  Texas Pete comes from two sources.  One is Edgar Rice Burroughs himself, and the other is a fellow that used to work on his brother's ranch.  Bill Gatlin, the stage driver, originates from Sam Lands a cowpuncher who specialized in tall stories.

Boris Vallejo


People are not the only realities that worm their way into this work.  The bronco, Gimlet, who threw Carson was  in real life one of Edgar Rice Burroughs' string of eight horses.  A lot of space was also devoted to the author's horse Whiskey Jack.  Edgar Rice Burroughs' trials and tribulations with this horse can be found in his Autobiography.  Going even beyond animals, the Henders Bar Y ranch got its name from his brother's Bar Y ranch.
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This western also included some original poetry by Edgar Rice Burroughs which was presented in ballad form.  The poems were titled The Passing 'O My Pal Bill and The Bad Hombre.

Frank Wright


Besides basing the fictional characters on real people Edgar Rice Burroughs also tried to use the colloquialisms and slang which they had used.  Despite this Davis felt the dialogue was to up-to-date and not typical of the period.  On June 14, 1923 he sent Edgar Rice Burroughs three pages of comments and suggestions for revision.

Al Martian Napoletano


This was not the end to dialogue problems, for they once more rose on the galley proofs.  On April 17, 1925 Edgar Rice Burroughs explained to a fellow named Bray that he had used quotation marks in accordance with an archaic form which he had learned at school some thirty or forty years ago.  He was unhappy with the galley proof corrections so changed them back to his original style.  Edgar Rice Burroughs expressed they were in the form he wanted, and urged Bray not to change them.

Al Martian Napoletano


Another point in controversy was the lack of research on Edgar Rice Burroughs' part.  The author even questioned himself on two accounts.  As a territory, did Arizona have a sheriff or a U.S. Marshal?  Did Apaches circle their enemies on horseback, as the plains Indians did?

Al Martian Napoletano



Davis quickly pointed out two more weaknesses.  Edgar Rice Burroughs had mentioned a checkbook and the cowboys being paid by check.  There was also a reference to a black bandana, which Davis explained as an impossibility.  Bandannas of those times had figures, and were either red or yellow.

Al Martian Napoletano


Despite all the little nick knacks The Bandit Of Hell's Bend, written March 30 to May 24, 1923, was purchased by Munsey for $4,070.  The first printing appeared in Argosy All-Story Weekly in six installments, September 13 to October 18, 1924.  It was published by McClurg on June 4, 1925, and by Methuen on January 28, 1926.

Joe Orsak





James Michael Moody

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