Brother Men is the first published collection of private letters of Edgar Rice Burroughs, the phenomenally successful author of adventure, fantasy, and science fiction tales, including the Tarzan series. The correspondence presented here is Burroughs’s decades-long exchange with Herbert T. Weston, the maternal great-grandfather of this volume’s editor, Matt Cohen. The trove of correspondence Cohen discovered unexpectedly during a visit home includes hundreds of items—letters, photographs, telegrams, postcards, and illustrations—spanning from 1903 to 1945. Since Weston kept carbon copies of his own letters, the material documents a lifelong friendship that had begun in the 1890s, when the two men met in military school. In these letters, Burroughs and Weston discuss their experiences of family, work, war, disease and health, sports, and new technology over a period spanning two world wars, the Great Depression, and widespread political change. Their exchanges provide a window into the personal writings of the legendary creator of Tarzan and reveal Burroughs’s ideas about race, nation, and what it meant to be a man in early-twentieth-century America.
The Burroughs-Weston letters trace a fascinating personal and business relationship that evolved as the two men and their wives embarked on joint capital ventures, traveled frequently, and navigated the difficult waters of child-rearing, divorce, and aging. Brother Men includes never-before-published images, annotations, and a critical introduction in which Cohen explores the significance of the sustained, emotional male friendship evident in the letters. Rich with insights related to visual culture and media technologies, consumerism, the history of the family, the history of authorship and readership, and the development of the West, these letters make it clear that Tarzan was only one small part of Edgar Rice Burroughs’s broad engagement with modern culture.
Note on the Text 49
Edgar Rice Burroughs, the author of Tarzan of the Apes and dozens of other famous novels, was a pivotal figure in the history of American science fiction. His books include At the Earth's Core, Beyond Thirty, and The Land That Time Forgot, all available in the Bison Frontiers of Imagination series. F. Paul Wilson is the author of such best-selling novels as The Keep, The Tomb, and Conspiracies. Thomas Floyd is a graphic designer at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln.
Matt Cohen is an associate professor of English at the University of Texas at Austin. He is the author of The Networked Wilderness: Communicating in Early New England. Jeffrey Glover is an assistant professor of English at Loyola University Chicago and the author of Paper Sovereigns: Anglo-Native Treaties and the Law of Nations, 1604–1664.
Contributors: Ralph Bauer, Heidi Bohaker, Galen Brokaw, Jon Coleman, Jeffrey Glover, Peter Charles Hoffer, Andrew Newman, Birgit Brander Rasmussen, Richard Cullen Rath, Sarah Rivett, Gordon M. Sayre, and Germaine Warkentin.
“As a modern mythmaker and one of the bestselling and most reproduced writers in English, Edgar Rice Burroughs deserves richer treatment than he has received, and several tendencies in the study of American culture—particularly the emphases on empire, masculinity, and popular culture—suggest that he will be more and more prominent in scholarly discourse. This book makes Burroughs accessible to a very broad range of scholars.”—Carlo Rotella, author of Cut Time: An Education at the Fights