Brother Men

The Correspondence of Edgar Rice Burroughs and Herbert T. Weston

Brother Men

Book Pages: 328 Illustrations: 17 b&w photos Published: April 2005

American Studies, General Interest > Biography, Letters, Memoirs, Literature and Literary Studies > Literary Criticism

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.


"[Cohen] provides an informative historical context for Burroughs and Weston's lives." — John F. Kasson, Duke Magazine

"Cohen's perception of the interconnections between personal and public identities makes this volume particularly insightful. . . . Highly recommended." — J. J. Marchesani, Choice

"I knew there was some reason other than Tarzan I loved this guy. . . . I would recommend the correspondence for at least one read but a second or third might provide a much deeper insight into ERB's character. Altogether both men came off very well. Mr. Cohen is to be commended also for his minimal editing of the letters." — R. E. Prindle, ERBZine

“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


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Edgar Rice Burroughs (1875–1950), most well known as the author of the Tarzan books, was one of the bestselling American authors of the early twentieth century. Millions of copies of his books sold during his lifetime.

Herbert T. Weston (1876–1951) was a businessman in Beatrice, Nebraska.

Matt Cohen is Assistant Professor of English at Duke University.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments ix

Introduction 1

Note on the Text 49

Correspondence 51

Notes 287

Index 301
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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-3541-2 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-3529-0
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