The Men Behind Tarzan: The Real-Life Jungle Man and the Troubled Author Who Brought Him to Life

We’ve all seen the story of Tarzan one way or another – whether it was the animated film, the books, the comics, or the live-action drama that came out in 2016. We all know the story of the British aristocrat, Lord Greystoke, whose infant son, John Clayton, was abandoned in the African forest after his parents’ death, only to be raised by apes. We’ve also owned or knew someone who had a Tarzan lunchbox or t-shirt. But my point is here that not many of us know the real story behind the story.


Photo by Moviestore Collection, Shutterstock / Mgm, Kobal, Shutterstock / Universal, Kobal, Shutterstock

Believe it or not, the remarkable story of Tarzan’s originator, author Edgar Rice Burroughs, never even set foot in Africa in his entire life. There has been a long debate as to the inspiration behind Tarzan. How did Burroughs get the inspiration for one of literature’s most enduring characters? And why did he deny his real inspirations? As it turns out, the author of our favorite jungle character had his own skeletons in the closet.

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