9 Surprising Things You Didn't Know About Edgar Rice Burroughs
His name probably sounds vaguely familiar, but his influence is all around you. Burroughs, a prolific writer of the early twentieth century, is probably best known for creating Tarzan -- but one of his most lasting creations, epic hero John Carter, is coming to life on the big screen in March 2012. Here are 9 things about Burroughs' life that you'll be surprised you didn't already know.
1. The John Carter series is widely considered one of the most influential sci-fi series ever created.
Burroughs began working on the first book in the series, "A Princess Of Mars," in 1911 when he was 35. Years later, its influence can be displayed on films like the Star Wars series and "Avatar." "With Avatar I thought, do something in the Edgar Rice Burroughs mould, like John Carter of Mars." - James Cameron talks to The New Yorker, 2009
2. Ray Bradbury called Burroughs, "the most influential writer, bar none, of our century."
Bradbury -- with dozens of books to his name, including "Fahrenheit 451" -- has been noted to point out Burroughs' influence. "By giving romance and adventure to a whole generation of boys, Burroughs caused them to go out and decide to become special," he said. "I've talked to more biochemists and more astronomers and technologists in various fields, who, when they were ten years old, fell in love with John Carter and Tarzan and decided to become something romantic. Burroughs put us on the moon."
3. Noah Wyle's character on "ER" was named after John Carter.
"ER" creator Michael Crichton read Burroughs' John Carter stories as a boy, and they had a profound influence on his work. He named Wyle's character John Carter as an homage to the books he loved.
4. The Burroughs Crater on Mars
This large Martian crater (diameter: 104 kilometers) at latitude 72.5S / longitude 243.1W, was named after the author. Have you had a crater on Mars named after you because of your influential stories? No, I didn't think so.
5. Tarzana, CA, is named for the ranch that Burroughs once owned there. He named it for his most famous creation, Tarzan.
Sometime around 1919, Burroughs bought a ranch just outside of Los Angeles and named it after Tarzan. As a community slowly grew up around it, they voted to adopt the name Tarzana for their town.
6. Burroughs' books inspired Arthur C. Clarke to start writing.
Clarke is one of the biggest names in science fiction storytelling -- his best-known work is "2001: A Space Odyssey." He loved the John Carter series as a child, and it inspired him to go on to write great stories about adventures among the stars.
7. Burroughs was the first writer to incorporate himself, and after 1931 published all his books under his own imprint.
Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc. was founded in 1923. It was an innovation in the business -- though Burroughs wasn't the first artist to incorporate, he was one of the most successful. The company still operates out of Tarzana.
8. Burroughs is a descendant of Edmund Rice -- and is distantly related to Laura Ingalls Wilder and President Calvin Coolidge.
Rice was one of the original settlers of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, and while his own life was modest -- founder of Sudbury, deacon in the Puritan Church -- he did have 10 kids, who went on to become the ancestors of some of America's most interesting people.
9. After witnessing the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Burroughs volunteered to become the oldest war correspondent (66) in the Pacific.
After a hugely successful career as a writer, Burroughs was so moved by the bombing of Pearl Harbor that he volunteered as best he could -- to cover the war as a journalist, risking his life to cover the war effort. During this time, he wrote to his grandson, "If your generation shows more intelligence than past generations, perhaps there will be no more wars." Trademarks 'JOHN CARTER OF MARS,' JCM Design, 'BARSOOM' and 'PRINCESS OF MARS' owned by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc. and used by permission. © 2011 Disney Enterprises, Inc.