success of Tarzan's first appearance was little short of astounding. Letters
of praise flooded the All-Story offices, and Metcalf dutifully passed
them along to Burroughs. In a magazine that specialized in fast-paced action
and adventure, "Tarzan of the Apes" stood out. This story of the orphaned
English lord, raised by apes in the depths of the African jungle, who grows
up to eventually become king of his ape tribe, who falls in love with the
beautiful - and conveniently marooned - Jane Porter of Baltimore, who learns
the ways of civilization and follows Jane to America (only to lose her
in the end), struck a cord with readers. They loved the story - but hated
the ending! How could Tarzan not win Jane? Ah, but that would be another
And more Tarzan stories Burroughs
would definitely write. The adventures Tarzan had, and the many strange
lands he traveled to, would boggle the mind of those who only knew Tarzan
from the movies. Tarzan would discover Opar, the lost outpost of Atlantis
~ a hidden valley where the Roman Empire still held sway ~ Pal-ul-don,
a land where dinosaurs and prehistoric men still survived ~ the City of
Gold, whose inhabitants hunted men with lions ~ and Pellucidar, a land
of eternal day at the center of the earth.
But what about Jane? readers
in 1912 wanted to know. Even as praise for "Tarzan of the Apes" continued
to pour in, Burroughs was working on a sequel. If anything was a surefire
success, this was it! The future seemed rosy, and Burroughs cheerfully
mailed off "The Return of Tarzan" to Metcalf in January 1913 - who rejected
it! Burroughs was crushed. How could the sequel to something as successful
as "Tarzan of the Apes" possibly be rejected? Burroughs signaled that this
was the end of his fledgling writing career. All of the later Tarzan adventures,
all the movies, all the comics and toys, were a hair's-breadth away from
never existing. Metcalf's reply was succinct: "For the love of Mike! Don't
Burroughs took those words to heart - he sold "The Return of Tarzan" to
a rival magazine!
Tarzan was now a big hit
with the readers of two magazines, and virtually all future Tarzan stories
would first appear in the pulps, but the ape-man would never have become
the world-wide phenomenon he is today if he had remained in the pulp jungle.
Edgar Rice Burroughs knew this as well - or at least, he figured that Tarzan
could help him support his family better if the stories were published
as books. So Burroughs sent off copies of the All-
Story Tarzan to over
a dozen publishers, along with fan letters to show that people loved the
Naturally, every publisher
Burroughs received such responses
as "we think it deserved all the success you say it had as a Magazine story"
or "we are grateful for the privilege of seeing this story," but ultimately
no publisher seemed interested. But one person who did express an interest
was Albert Payson Terhune, editor of the New York newspaper Evening World.
He wanted to serialize Tarzan of the Apes, and soon newspapers across the
country wanted to as well. Now thousands more were thrilling to the exploits
of Tarzan (as well as the other stories Burroughs was writing). And suddenly
the book publishers became interested.