Burroughing Beneath the Page:
The Life of Matthew Nicholas Carter

By Dr. Peter Coogan and Dennis Power   

For generations readers of Edgar Rice Burroughs' A Princess of Mars have been confused. The foreword, signed by Burroughs, is written by a wealthy Southerner, born in 1855, who ran a string of general stores in Virginia with his father. The portrayal of "Burroughs" in this foreword is consistent with the "Burroughs" a reader meets in other prefaces and forewords, but wholly inconsistent with the historical Edgar Rice Burroughs—a middle-class Midwesterner whose father owned an automobile battery company and who struggled financially throughout his life. Further differences, such as the fact that "Burroughs" visited Africa, England, Greenland, and Caspak, but Burroughs did not, are readily apparent and easily discovered.[1] And yet, "Burroughs" and Burroughs both lived in Tarzana and Hawaii, and Ralph Rothmund worked as a secretary for both, thereby reinforcing the idea that the narrator "Burroughs" is actually Edgar Rice Burroughs.

Just what is going on here?

A close reading of the prefaces reveals quite a bit about "Burroughs" and dispels the most common misunderstandings about his life. Most writers and scholars who have written about him accept that "Burroughs" is not Edgar Rice Burroughs, but most continue to accept the statement in Princess that “Burroughs” is John Carter’s nephew.[2]

The distinction between “Burroughs” and ERB is evident in the preface in Princess where "Burroughs" says that he "had always been [John Carter's] favorite among the younger generation of Carters" (p.vi).  "Burroughs'" name is in fact Carter. But what is his first name? This issue seems to have been settled in John Bloodstone’s (a.k.a. Stuart Byrne) Tarzan on Mars when Jason Gridley makes an offer to Tarzan to have Barsoomian hieroglyphs translated "by the greatest living authority on Earth" in matters Barsoomian, Jules Ainsworth Carter (p. 45).

But Jules Ainsworth Carter is clearly not the man who authored the many prefaces of Burroughs' published works. In Tarzan on Mars, Jules Carter is said to be a well-studied authority on Barsoom and its civilizations. But the picture that emerges from the prefaces paint "Burroughs" as anything but a studious man. He travels around the world, goes to Caspak for a year, lives a leisurely life in California, camps in Virginia and Colorado, and reads pulp fiction. Additionally, if he were “Burroughs” Jules Carter would have been ninety-three years old at the beginning of Tarzan on Mars (1948-1955).[3] Although the “Burroughs” narrator aged well, he suffered numerous health problems throughout his life and it is unlikely that he would have been in good health at this age. [4] Additionally, as we will show below, “Burroughs” disappears from ERB’s published stories around 1941.

Another candidate, put forward by Jess Nevins in “The Carters of Virginia: A Tragedy,” is Walter Carter. Dennis Power and I dispute some of Nevins’ genealogy of the Carters in “The Many Lives of John Carter” and below we discuss the problematic nature of his probable source (see endnote 22). The history he gives for Walter Carter itself argues against Walter being “Burroughs.” Nevins gives Walter’s life span as 1857 to 1920, with a question mark indicating that the death date is not certain. But the prefaces in the published Burroughs novels continue well past the twenties. Further, in Princess the narrator clearly indicates that he was born in 1855 (p. 5). A close reading of the various prefaces and prologues shows that “Burroughs” lived until at least 1940, disappearing from the published record in about 1941. Further Walter Carter’s genealogy does not match that of “Burroughs” who claimed to be of “Puritan stock” (Pirates of Venus p. 7). The only thing that Walter Carter apparently has in common with “Burroughs” is that Carter is the nephew of a John Carter as “Burroughs” claims to be, though this was not in fact true.[5]

So, ERB is not “Burroughs,” Jules Ainsworth Carter is not “Burroughs,” and Walter Carter is not “Burroughs.” Who is and what do we know about him?

Contrary to the position of most writers, “Burroughs” is not John Carter’s nephew.[6] Carter could not have been "Burroughs" father's brother. This is clear enough from the prefaces themselves. In Princess, "Burroughs" says that he remembers well "the tall, dark, smooth-faced athletic man whom I called Uncle Jack" (p. v). This last phrase is telling. Carter is not "Burroughs'" uncle, but the man he calls his uncle. When linked with John Carter's declaration of age—at least one hundred years old—this statement is a clear indication that John Carter could not be "Burroughs'" father's brother.

But, might he be another kind of uncle? In Gods, “Burroughs” refers to John Carter as his great uncle, making Carter the brother of his grandfather (p. v). While this admission would seem to resolve the difficulty, John Carter problematizes the great-uncle theory in Chessmen by noting that “Burroughs” has not aged as much as other men, “which may be accounted for by the fact that the same blood runs in our veins” (p. 8). If Carter were the great-uncle of “Burroughs” then the immortality gene would have to come from one of Carter’s parents in order to be passed to “Burroughs,” that is in order for the same blood to run in their veins. But this statement is logically at odds with the assertion on Carter’s part that “Burroughs” is the last of his earthly kin. If the Carter blood so easily bestowed longevity, then in the four generations from Carter’s parents to “Burroughs” there would be dozens and dozens of similarly long-lived people with the same—or greater—percentages of the Carter blood and it’s life-sustaining properties.

“Burroughs” himself similarly problematizes the great-uncle theory when he responds to Carter’s assertion that after “Burroughs” dies, Carter will have no “Earthly ties” to draw him back from his adopted world. “Burroughs” asserts that his children would provide this connection as they are Carter’s “blood-kin” (Llana p. vi). If Carter were the great uncle of “Burroughs,” he should have dozens, possibly hundreds of such “blood kin” to visit. “Burroughs’” use of “blood kin” makes little sense in terms of the attenuated relationship between a man and his great-great nieces and nephews. In fact, these statements make sense only in one context.

"Burroughs" is John Carter's son.

And Carter said so, directly and in print, over eighty years ago. In Chessmen (published 1922) Carter surprises “Burroughs,” who blurts out “John Carter!  You?” and Carter replies, “None other, my son” (p. 7). How so many writers overlooked this clear statement is frankly baffling, but Carter never refers to “Burroughs” as his nephew again, nor does “Burroughs” call Carter his uncle.

“Burroughs” is Matthew Nicholas Carter and following is a biography of his life, primarily compiled from ERB’s published works but confirmed by interviews with his great-grandson, the current Carter heir and director of the Carter archives, and by documents provided by that descendant.[7]

Matthew Nicholas Carter (MNC) was born in 1855 on a large plantation not far from Richmond, Virginia. His father, Matthew Carter, had married his mother, Bianca Rice Carter, some seven months prior and his premature birth had raised concerns about his health, but he was born a strong and happy baby.[8]He had a normal childhood for the time, which underwent a significant change starting in 1860. At that time he first met John Carter, referred to as an “uncle” although he was in fact not directly related to his father or mother.

Carter had migrated to Virginia in 1649, establishing a plantation and a dynasty. In 1663, his wife Sarah gave birth to their son, who would grow up to be known as Robert “King” Carter, Virginia aristocrat and a leading force in the colony. John Carter stayed on the edges of this family for the next two centuries, his longevity an open family secret. In 1799 as “Jack Carter” he married Whitney Trout, who died giving birth to sons Simon and Nathan, and possibly a third, John, although accounts and records differ. In 1821, looking not a day older than when he had married Whitney, he left his plantation in the hands of Nathan and decamped for the Greek War of Independence. He returned in 1824, claiming to be John Carter, the brother of Simon and Nathan, and married Sarah Carter, fathering George Fairfax Carter. In 1836 Carter took leave of his family again, this time to fight in the revolution in Texas, where he moved his family in 1839. Sarah died in 1843, and John Carter fought in the Mexican War on the side of the United States. After a few years in the U.S. Cavalry fighting the Sioux and then living with a tribe of Lakota Indians, Carter returned to Virginia in 1855, where he was smitten by Bianca Rice and the two were engaged.[9] However before the wedding could take place he was recalled to duty at the outbreak of the Third Seminole War. Bianca insisted on consummating their relationship prior to his departure. John Carter was among a group of soldiers taken hostage by the Seminoles and presumed dead by the United States Army. Having learned of this, Bianca found herself in a bind; her night of passion with John Carter had left her pregnant. Social convention took precedence over grief, and rather than suffer the stigma of bearing a child out of wedlock, Bianca Rice married one of her other suitors, Matthew Carter, a distant kinsman of John Carter, although their exact relationship is uncertain as Carter’s long life and repeated marriages into the family make establishing his precise place in the Carter family tree rather difficult.[10]

Matthew Carter ran the plantation along with Nathan, who had expanded the family holdings and was often off in North Carolina to deal with business interests there. The plantation was prosperous and large, and they owned many slaves, whom they treated well by the standards of the time. MNC formed an attachment to a slave named Ben, the son of Baltimore slave and blacksmith named William, who was assigned to the boy as a body servant.[11] Although only some ten years older than Matthew Nicholas, the boy would refer to Ben Porter as “Old Ben” or “Uncle Ben” and the two would stay together until Ben’s death in 1902 in a hunting accident in Africa.[12] In 1859, John Carter returned from Seminole captivity to discover Bianca had married another. Carter accepted this state of affairs and visited North Carolina with his son Nathan, where he was honored as a war hero, and met and married Margaret Butler, sister of the famous Rhett Butler. In 1860, he returned to the Carter plantation to stay for a few months, and he first met his unacknowledged son Matthew Nicholas, forming an affection for the boy that lasted the rest of MNC’s  life.

Although many in the family, even Matthew Carter himself, suspected the relationship between John and Matthew Nicholas was much closer than publicly acknowledged, the family maintained the fiction of John Carter being Matthew Nicholas’ “uncle” in deference to the feelings of Bianca Rice’s mother and maiden older sister, who had come from Boston to live with the Carters. Even after he learned the truth, which he had long suspected, MNC would maintain this fiction in print until his aunt died of the flu following World War One.[1

As with many other plantations, the war brought ruin to the Carter farm. The Carters had survived much of the war relatively unscathed, but in 1865 John Carter returned to Carter Hall to check on the welfare of his son Nathan and his familyHe also hoped to find that his wife Margaret and their son Nicholas had somehow escaped from the burning of Atlanta and made their way to his Virginia estate. Instead he found Carter Hall under attack by a band of renegades. Nathan was killed in the fight. With Carter Hall burnt to the ground, John Carter was destitute. Not knowing where his son Simon was located and seeing that his other son Matthew Nicholas was in the capable hands of his “father” Matthew Carter, John Carter interested his brother-in-law James K. Powell in a prospecting trip to Arizona. Powell was killed by Apaches on this trip, and Carter, desperately wounded, transferred himself to Mars.[14]

With Nathan dead, Matthew Carter assumed the role of patriarch. He gathered the Carter clan and cobbled together their remaining resources to finance a pair of general stores, one in Richmond and the other in Cartersville. The Cartersville general store had been owned by a relative who was killed in the war along with his immediate family, and Matthew Carter was able to assume its ownership without cost. Despite the privations of the post-bellum South, the Carter stores prospered and soon Matthew expanded his family’s holdings into a string of stores throughout Virginia. His son Matthew Nicholas worked at the Cartersville store and joined his father in running the string once he came of age.

By the mid-1870s the Carter family was again prosperous. On an 1873 trip to Baltimore with his servant Ben to see Ben’s sister Esmerelda, MNC met Catherine Strong, the daughter of a local leading family. Over the next two years, MNC sought out opportunities to go to Baltimore, taking the excuse of Ben’s family connections and commercial activity of the Baltimore port to court Miss Strong. They married in 1875. A cousin of his, Jane Carter Lee, married Professor Archimedes Porter.[15] Jane Carter and Matthew Nicholas had known each other from childhood and were fairly close. Her father Harry Lee was a cousin of Robert E. Lee, so they enjoyed an important place in Richmond society, where she grew up. The Strong and Porter families were friends, so MNC and his wife continued to visit Baltimore often. The connection between the Carters and the Porters was very strong. Ben’s father William had married into the Porter family after emancipation through Miranda, a slave formerly owned by Professor Archimedes Porter’s father. Miranda was, in fact, more than a family slave, being the illegitimate daughter of Porter’s father, and therefore Archimedes’ sister. William and Miranda’s daughter Esmerelda (born 1868) was the sister Ben often visited in Baltimore. Matthew Nicholas and Catherine were present at the birth of Archimedes daughter Jane in 1880, which tragically resulted in the death of Jane Carter Lee Porter. Esmerelda was given the task of raising Jane. Ben came to look up on Jane as a niece and eagerly awaited letters about her and Esmerelda, and greatly enjoyed his visits there over the years.

In the early 1870s Matthew Nicholas began to make regular winter trips to the New York market to order goods for the string of general stores he ran with his father. He took his wife Catherine on these trips and also their children as they were born. In 1875, the couple’s first son Jules Ainsworth Carter was born, followed in 1877 by their first daughter Jane, in 1879 by Simon, and finally in 1882 by Leigh. In 1877 John Carter returned from his mysterious ten-year absence to stay on the Carters’ restored Virginia farm. The next year, John Carter purchased an estate on the Hudson River outside New York City.[16] Matthew Nicholas and his family visited John Carter at his Hudson River cottage on their annual purchasing trips and the Carter children became great favorites of John, and he of them. They enjoyed the wild tales of their uncle’s adventurous life, particularly Jules. John’s exuberance hid a deep melancholy that he would not share the cause of with his “nephew,” who had begun to suspect their true relationship as he found himself more and more resembling his uncle and less and less his father.

In 1885 John told MNC that he wanted him to take charge of his estate should anything happen to him and left legal instructions with his lawyers to this effect. On March 1, 1886, a few months after his last visit, Matthew Nicholas was summoned by telegram to John Carter’s estate. There he found his uncle dead, having left behind a manuscript and a number of odd instructions. The first was that Matthew Nicholas was to have the entire income of his estate for twenty-five years and was then to gain the principle (in 1911). The second was that he was not to read the manuscript for eleven years and was not to make its contents public for twenty one. Further he was to send John Carter’s body, without autopsy or embalming, to be entombed in a specially built mausoleum in the family plot in Richmond.

Matthew Nicholas took his charge seriously and brought Carter’s body back to Virginia. He also took his instructions not to read the manuscript for eleven years very seriously, until curiosity got the better of him after one year. Then he learned of his father’s strange adventures on another planet. Hard as they were to believe, Matthew Nicholas accepted them and began to wonder about his father’s long life and whether he or his children would inherit this longevity. He also became keenly interested in the tantalizingly few clues his father had left regarding his life prior to the Civil War. MNC decided to devote his spare time to tracking down records of his father and to sorting out his family’s genealogy, especially with the idea of finding those times when his father reentered the family to marry and have children.[17]

In 1890 after a long illness, during which Matthew Nicholas took on an ever-greater share of the work of running the chain of general stores, Matthew Carter passed away. After his funeral, Matthew Nicholas realized that he had never much liked business, and given his income from the Carter mines and other investments John had made, he would move out of the day-to-day operations of the stores so that he could devote time to his genealogical researches and the idea of editing John Carter’s manuscript for publication.[18] In 1892 he found the partner he needed in Josiah Turner, who had been interested in expanding his considerable holdings in New York and New Jersey down into Virginia and the Washington D.C. area.[19] Turner took over the day-to-day operations of the Carter stores and placed Matthew Nicholas on the board of directors, a situation that fitted Carter perfectly.

Over the next decade, Carter split his time between his Virginia farm and the Hudson River cottage. In 1895 on the train from Richmond to New York, MNC met a man named Vernon Julian who claimed to remember meeting him in 1967. Intrigued, Carter spent the rest of the trip with Julian and accepted from him several manuscripts that told the future history of the planet and the toll of a coming world war.[20] This meeting prompted MNC to begin to expand his investigations beyond his father’s life, to collect manuscripts and stories of adventurers, and to store his growing collection of genealogical research at the Hudson River cottage, which he soon built additions to. The more he delved into his father’s life, the more connections he found with a large and loosely inter-related family, of which he and his father were a part.[21] He began to add the stories of this family to his collection, with the idea of turning these manuscripts and stories into published narratives. He was not very driven, though, and frequently began projects with great enthusiasm only to let them peter out after a few months. One of the few projects he took to some state of completion was a series of “diaries” in which he recorded fictionalized histories of the large family, including photographs both genuine and unrelated to the family; these latter he purchased at various photography studios in the New York and Richmond area and relabeled.[22]

During this period, Matthew Nicholas took up hunting, making frequent trips to upstate New York and to land his family owned in the Piedmont Mountains. On one such trip in August 1898 with Josiah Turner, he was met by John Carter, who told him some of the Barsomian events of the “War of the Worlds” (Effinger p.184).[23]  Learning of the devastation that had befallen Barsoom and worried about similar strikes on Earth, Turner and Carter rushed back to Cartersville, intending to see to the defense of Richmond, which was not apparently attacked.[24] While waiting to take action, MNC wrote up notes of Carter’s narrative, but in the excitement of the War and its aftermath, these notes must have been mislaid as they were never given to Burroughs and only saw print in 1996 as “Mars: The Homefront.”

The next year, evidently after some significant reconstruction and recovery on Barsoom, John Carter again visited Earth. Matthew Nicholas was living at the Carter plantation at this time, as he often did in August, and that is where John Carter’s telegram requesting that they meet at the Hotel Raleigh in Richmond found him. John Carter intended this visit as his last, having decided to make Barsoom his permanent home and expecting never to see his son again. This intention explains why John Carter did not simply meet Matthew Nicholas at the Carter farm. First, JC’s body was in Richmond so it was easier to bring MNC to him, and second since he expected never to return he needed to take care of a number of legal details, including transferring the whole of his estate into the hands of his son.

John Carter also delivered to Matthew Nicholas a “swelling portfolio” containing a mass of notes he had spent three months compiling (presumably these were three Martian months as it seems unlikely that John Carter would have been so long on Earth without contacting Matthew Nicholas). These notes supplied the materials that MNC and ERB turned into Gods of Mars, Warlord of Mars, and Thuvia, Maid of Mars. The next morning, they returned to the crypt and John Carter transported himself back to Mars.[25]

Traditionally this meeting is placed in 1898 because the foreword for Gods begins, “Twelve years had passed since I laid the body of my great-uncle, Captain John Carter of Virginia, away from the sight of men in that strange mausoleum in the old cemetery in Richmond” (p. v). Since the date of Carter’s death in March of 1886 is definitely stated, the passage of twelve years places these events in 1898. But John Carter would not have visited his son twice in the same month—both “Mars: The Home Front” and Gods give August as the month for the meeting—and a Prince of Helium would not have spent three months making notes and recording adventures while the Sarmaks attacked Barsoom and launched their invasion of Earth. These events take place in 1899 and the proof lies in Matthew Nicholas Carter’s original manuscript.[26]In that draft, the opening line reads, “Some dozen years had passed.” It is evident that Burroughs changed this line in his editing of the manuscript for publication. ERB probably did so to reconcile these opening words with a statement in the third paragraph that “Twelve years had passed since I had read the remarkable manuscript of this remarkable man” (Gods p. v). John Flint Roy takes this statement to mean that MNC immediately read Carter’s manuscript after entombing his body. But this isn’t so. Matthew Nicholas in fact obeyed his father’s injunction for a year, thus establishing the date of the Gods’ foreword as 1899, which in fact is “some dozen years” after MNC laid John Carter’s body to rest in Richmond.

That John Carter genuinely felt he was leaving Earth behind is indicated by the fact that his next visit was not to come for another twenty years. In those years, Matthew Nicholas, thinking that he would never see his father again, attempted to substitute for the man’s presence by recreating John Carter’s past. He fell fairly deeply into his family research.[27]  He also worked to prepare John Carter’s manuscript and to pull coherent stories out of the notes JC had left him. He did extract these stories, as is evident from Gods, Warlord, and Thuvia, but he was unable to get them to work as fiction. In part this inability arose from a sense of guilt that he had from breaking his word to John Carter to not read his manuscript for eleven years and in part from his knowledge that he wasn’t to publish anything until 1911, and this agreement he intended to keep. Knowing that he had a far off deadline prevented MNC from concentrating on the Martian manuscripts. Further, he felt that he could not publish these narratives as fact and would need to release them as fiction, but he simply did not have the novelist’s art. He was unable to construct realistic dialogue or build character well. Instead he constructed elaborate annotated chronologies, but these read like boring encyclopedia entries and contained none of the epic sweep and narrative speed that Burroughs was eventually able to bring to them.

This shortfall in his abilities became evident in 1900 when he received a visit from Edwin Arnold, a British author who was investigating the lives of two men who featured in strange stories he had come across.[28] These investigations continued after the publication of Phra the Phoenician (1890) and would end in the release of Lieut. Gulliver Jones, His Vacation (1905). In the early summer of 1900, Arnold showed up, unannounced and unexpected, at the Carter cottage on the Hudson River. He struck Matthew Nicholas as somewhat demanding and desperate, which caused MNC to be suspicious regarding Arnold’s questions about John Carter. Arnold believed that John Carter was somehow connected to an ancient, immortal Phoenician sailor who had survived from 50 B.C. to the 16th century A.D. and to a U.S. Marine who was mysteriously transported to Mars via a magic carpet. To put Arnold off, Matthew Nicholas claimed not to have known his uncle well at all, but to have inherited the estate from him because he was the only member of his family willing to live in the North even part of the year.

Discouraged, Arnold pursued other leads in New York and returned a few weeks later claiming to have proof that MNC’s uncle had been Phra the Phoenician and had traveled to Mars. This story intrigued Carter, and the two men compared stories only to discover that the tales differed at many points. Disappointed with the information Carter had provided him, Arnold decided to publish the story of Ulysses Pierpont in novel form and wrote Gullivar. Carter, though, found that Arnold’s descriptions of Mars fit many of the particulars he had learned about Barsoom from John Carter’s notes. Additionally the idea of Phra piqued his interest and he promised himself he would pursue Phra’s story in England.

In 1902, Matthew Nicholas took Ben Porter on a hunting trip to Central Africa.[29] His investigations into his family led him to a distant cousin, Cornelius Carter, who had recently taken on the position of station chief at Lukati in the Akasava tribal area on the Ochori river. Cornelius welcomed his distant cousin and introduced him to the senior commissioner, Henry Sanders. Though Matthew Nicholas did not know it at the time, this meeting would prove fortuitous many years later in London. Cornelius provided Matthew Nicholas with local guides and porters for his hunting trip and the Carter party ranged over a great deal of territory, with Sanders himself accompanying the American at times. The trip ended in the Uzuri region when a leopard that Matthew Nicholas and Ben Porter were stalking doubled around behind the hunting party and cut off the two Americans from their gunbearers. The leopard dropped silently from a tree and both Carter and Porter missed their first shots and were mauled by the big cat. Their native guide, Busuli, a Waziri warrior, killed the cat with a single shot to the head, but it was too late for Ben Porter.[30] Carter was evacuated to the nearest British outpost where he recovered enough after a few weeks to ship out to France. He spent the rest of the year on the Riviera mourning his lost friend.

Returning to America, MNC plunged himself into his genealogical researches as a way to forget the present. Carter decided he needed a greater sense of discipline and the historical method and so enrolled in Cornell University to take classes in history and historiography.[31] He moved his family to Ithaca. After a year—he had no interest in pursuing a degree—he left the school to return to his Hudson River cottage and to divide his time between Richmond and New York. He also began to research his living relatives and to connect with them. Unfortunately, the records available regarding MNC for this time are not very detailed. He seemed to be having trouble finding direction for his life. Undoubtedly this was caused in part by the loss of Ben Porter, for which he blamed himself. It seems very likely that he suffered a bout of depression, and it may be that he quit Cornell not because he was not interested in pursuing a degree (as he claimed in a letter to his maiden aunt in Boston), but because he felt his project was futile.But this is merely speculation.

In the fall of 1910, MNC took a trip to England with his wife—they left the children in Virginia—to see her cousin and to search for traces of John Carter. Evidently Matthew Nicholas had regained the taste for these researches. Catherine’s cousin Hazel Strong had recently married Edward “Bunny” Rutherford, the fifteenth Baron Tennington in Africa and Catherine especially wanted to hear her story and to get caught up. She may have also seen the trip as a way to revitalize her husband, if my suspicion regarding depression is correct. The couple spent several weeks staying with the Rutherfords, and it was from Tennington that Matthew Nicholas heard one of the strangest stories ever told, the story of a boy raised by apes, the story of Tarzan.

The source of the Tarzan narrative has been problematic ever since the publication of Tarzan of the Apes in the October 1912 issue of All-Story Magazine. Many candidates—including even Dr. Watson—have been proposed as the inebriated informant who supplied the story. As with the identity of “Burroughs,” the truth behind the meeting that opens Tarzan of the Apes has been in plain sight for decades, but it seems that no one has pulled back from the individual accounts to survey the whole landscape of texts and construct the real story.

Given the importance of the opening paragraphs of Tarzan of the Apes, it may be useful to look at them now:

I had this story from one who had no business to tell it to me, or to any other. I may credit the seductive influence of an old vintage upon the narrator for the beginning of it, and my own skeptical incredulity during the days that followed for the balance of the strange tale. When my convivial host discovered that he had told me so much, and that I was prone to doubtfulness, his foolish pride assumed the task the old vintage had commenced, and so he unearthed written evidence in the form of musty manuscript, and dry official records of the British Colonial Office to support many of the salient features of his remarkable narrative. . . . The yellow, mildewed pages of the diary of a man long dead, and the records of the Colonial Office dovetail perfectly with the narrative of my convivial host, and so I give you the story as I painstakingly pieced it out from these several various agencies.

From this opening we can determine a few things. First the listener is the guest of the informant, as the phrase “convivial host” indicates. Second, he is staying with his host for some extended period; this is not a one-night happenstance meeting. Third the informant drinks, is garrulous, and wants to impress his guest, further he is slightly thin-skinned. He has a position of some importance or some social influence as he has access to records of the Colonial Office, but there is nothing to indicate whether he is an agent of the Colonial Office, the Foreign Office, or some other governmental department, or if he merely has enough prestige to gain access to the Colonial Office’s records; from this access we can determine that he is likely a member of the aristocracy. Finally, the listener constructs the tale from at least three sources (or “agencies”), the informant’s personal information, Clayton’s diary, and the colonial records; thus the informant is not simply retelling a story he learned about through the diary and records, he has a story of his own that the diary and records generally agree with and support. Thus the informant must have had Tarzan’s story at relatively close hand, likely from Tarzan himself.

John Flint Roy constructed a biography of “Burroughs” from the various prefaces of the published novels, although he overlooks some of the information present in various Burroughs texts. Roy says that in 1910 Burroughs “made the acquaintance of an official at the British Colonial Office in London” (p. 190). Who was that colonial official?

The truth was supposedly revealed by J.T. Edson in Bunduki (1975). Here Edson declared that Commissioner Henry Sanders, known as Sanders of the River, whose adventures had been related to the public by Edgar Wallace, “told Edgar Rice Burroughs about Tarzan” but “to avoid prosecution for contravening the British Official Secrets Act, neither E.R.B. nor Mr. Wallace disclosed the identity of the former’s informant” (Sacrifice p. 196). As an agent of the Colonial Office, Sanders could have been prosecuted for revealing this information as the truth behind the senior John Clayton’s mission to Africa had been classified. The Sanders theory is problematic, as we explain below, but perhaps more significantly, Edson either through error or disingenuity missed or misstated the identity of the person to whom the story of Tarzan was told (in fact he also misunderstood or deliberately disguised Sanders true role in the story, but more on that in a moment). The listener was not Burroughs.

Tarzan himself provided a clue to the identity of the listener. In his interview with Philip José Farmer, Tarzan said:

[Burroughs] first heard of me in the winter of 1911. I had then been known to the civilized world for only perhaps two years, and the records of my existence—including my father’s diary, which he kept until his death in Africa—were then in England. . . . In any case, Burroughs had not been to England, much less to Africa, and had his information buy word of mouth at several removes. In many cases he had to fill in gaps, by sheer guesswork, some of which is accurate, some not. For the sake of verisimilitude, Burroughs pretended to be much closer to his sources than was in fact the case (p. 206-207).

An important clue here is that ERB had his information “at several removes,” that is there were at least a few layers of people in between Burroughs, the documents that supplied the story, and Tarzan.

Another important piece of the puzzle comes from Philip José Farmer in Tarzan Alive. Farmer rejects the idea that Burroughs is the narrator in this section, but proposes instead:

Since he had never been to England, he would have had to get his facts and surmises about the “Greystoke case” from a man who had just returned from England to Chicago. Probably late in 1910, Burroughs talked to the man who had pried the Tarzan story out of the retired official. Burroughs pretended to be the very man from whom he got the information.

Here Farmer is making a supposition, and he repeats Roy’s conclusion that the person who told the story was an agent of the Colonial Office, but his version here contains an element of truth. Evidently Tarzan himself did not inform Farmer of the identity of either the narrator or informant, although he would do so shortly after the publication of his biography. The important puzzle piece here is the idea that someone met Burroughs in Chicago and supplied him with the Tarzan story. That person was in fact Matthew Nicholas Carter, and shortly we will detail how that meeting occurred and why MNC turned this tale over to ERB.

The final piece—but not quite the answer of how the Tarzan story made it to Burroughs—comes again directly from Tarzan. Following the interview with Farmer and after reading the manuscript for Tarzan Alive, Tarzan supplied Farmer with portions of his memoirs. In these Tarzan reveals the identity of the informant, but also supplies a crucial piece of evidence that explains the confusion that resulted from Edson’s Sanders revelation (oddly though, “Extracts from the Memoirs of Lord Greystoke” was published before Bunduki so the truth was available to Edson).

Regarding the listener, Tarzan states directly that he “was an American who had heard some of my story from an Englishman,” which flatly contradicts Farmer’s supposition regarding the retired Colonial Office official (p. 62). Tarzan then identifies that English informant as “T” who is married to “H,” and Farmer adds a footnote that this is “probably” Tarzan’s third cousin, Baron “Bunny” Tennington who was married to Hazel Strong (“Extracts” p. 62). So the identity of the informant is settled and we know that the listener is American.

But can these various stories be reconciled?

In fact they can.

Wold-Newton scholar Mark Brown made this attempt:

Philip José Farmer actually suggested that 'Bunny' Tennington was the culprit [who revealed Tarzan's story to ERB], having a tendency to gossip when in his cups. Farmer (actually it was Lord Greystoke, in the excerpt from his memoirs) mentioned that Lord Tennington might have told the story to an official, who then passed the word on to ERB. I assume that the official was Sanders, thus reconciling the two versions. [32]

Unfortunately this effort does not reconcile the two versions. This version supposes Sanders to have been loose with information when drinking, a portrait that does not fit the hard and self-controlled man that Sanders clearly was. And it misses the point made in the original version of the story that the informant had personal knowledge of Tarzan, which Sanders did not. Further, Tarzan directly states that Tennington told the story to an American who told it to Burroughs, no official was in this chain. Tarzan never knew of Sanders’ role in the story, and we suspect that Wallace might not have either, but Edson never clarifies his sources. Significantly though, Tarzan also adds something else, something that differs from all other accounts. He says that the “informant was supposed to have been an official of the British Foreign Service” (“Extracts” p. 62). All previous writers have assumed that there was an official involved and that he was with the Colonial Office. Other information from the original account has been overlooked by all these authors, but the true story can be unwound from all these threads.

In the fall of 1910 Matthew Nicholas Carter, and his wife Catherine visited her cousin Hazel Strong and her husband Edward “Bunny” Rutherford, Lord Tennington. They stayed with the Rutherfords at their London house. In “Extracts” Tarzan describes how  Tennington’s drinking had gotten of hand but does not indicate how or why. In fact, Tennington was the Foreign Service officer that Tarzan mentioned. Not a diplomat, Tennington served as a “diplomatic liaison officer,” a fancy term for a drinking companion. Tennington had taken this position with the Foreign Service at the urging of an uncle who wanted the young man—Rutherford was only in his mid-twenties—to do something with his life. Tennington primarily showed visiting diplomats and dignitaries around town (including escorting them to the company of discrete “professional women”) and extricated them from legal and social jams, as well as ensuring that these embarrassing occurrences never made it into the papers. Since Tennington already had a weakness for alcohol, this service to the nation only made his propensities worse.

Tennington and Carter were drinking one night when Carter told his host of one of the purposes of his visit to Europe, to find accounts of tall, bronzed, black-haired, gray-eyed fighting men throughout history. Tennington, pretty far along, only picked up on the physical description and immediately launched into the fantastic tale of a tanned, black-haired, gray-eyed giant, namely Tarzan. Despite his knowledge of the fantastic life of his father, Carter was struck with incredulity at the story of an English lord raised by apes. This incredulity wounded Tennington’s pride, and a few evenings later Tennington escorted his American guest to the Records Department of the Colonial Office where a friend of his was waiting. That friend was former Commissioner Henry Sanders, recently retired but with enough pull (and a set of keys) to get Tennington into the records office. Of course, Sanders immediately recognized his former hunting companion. Though no fault of his own, Sanders had always felt a sense of responsibility for Ben Porter’s death, thus he bent the rules for Matthew Nicholas Carter and allowed him to look at the Colonial Office records and the diary of John Clayton. Further, Jane Porter had conveyed much of Tarzan’s story to her friend Hazel, who similarly filled her cousin Catherine in on the facts of the ape-man’s life. Thus Carter had a number of sources from which to compile the manuscript that became, after significant work by Edgar Rice Burroughs, the novel Tarzan of the Apes. And that is the version of events that reconciles all the published versions of this well-known story.

The Carters traveled from London to southern France to see the countryside and to visit a monastery where a relative of the Tenningtons served as Father Superior. This man also had a propensity to drink and got to talking about the many manuscripts he had stored in the ancient pile. He inquired of his monks for stories dealing with black-haired gray-eyed fighting men, and one monk pointed them to the story of Norman of Torn, which was published as The Outlaw of Torn.[33] At this time, Carter also found a copy of an ancient manuscript written by an enslaved British tribesman who had served as the body servant for the Roman emperor Caligula and had participated in his assassination. Burroughs told this story under the title I am a Barbarian. How or why the Father Superior allowed Carter to walk away with these scrolls is unknown, but he did, and one wonders what other manuscripts Matthew Nicholas made off with. But perhaps this theft was a good thing, for as far as we can determine the abbey the Carters visited was nearly razed in bombing raids of World War Two when the monastery served as a German command post.[34]

The next decade would be a busy one for Carter, full of travel and exciting new people. Upon returning to America in late 1910, Carter found a letter waiting from a distant relative living in Chicago, and they set up a visit. This relative was, of course, Edgar Rice Burroughs. They were related through the Rice family. Both were descended from Deacon Edmund Rice, a Pilgrim from Buckhampshire, England, who had settled in Sudbury, Massachusetts in 1638. More immediately, Edgar Rice Burroughs’ connection came from the marriage of his grandfather, Abner Tyler Burroughs, to Mary Rice in 1827. One of Mary Rice’s older brothers had married into the Coleman family of Virginia (to whom Burroughs was also related to through his mother), and had fathered Bianca Rice. These Rices had lived in Boston for some time until Bianca’s father died, when her mother and older sister returned to Virginia to live on the Carter plantation. Carter visited Burroughs in the late winter months of 1911, probably March, and the two became instant friends.

Because of Burroughs’ keen interest in matters genealogical, Carter shared his explorations into his family past, including telling Burroughs the story of John Carter. Burroughs was amazed and felt that such a story had great sales potential. Burroughs had been thinking of trying his hand at fiction, but had not latched onto a strong idea. He did have a notion for a story of a Chicago businessman schooled in the efficiency theories of Frederick Winslow Taylor who traveled to Mars in a spaceship and put the planet on a firm footing, but he was unable to come up with a structure that worked. He felt, though, that with a manuscript provided by Carter he would be able to break into the writing game. This idea appealed immensely to Matthew Nicholas as well. He had for a long time wanted to get his father’s story into print, much less the numerous other stories and manuscripts he had collected, but just didn’t have the necessary talent for dialogue and plotting. Burroughs felt that he could provide these elements and the two agreed to try their hand at getting John Carter’s story published.

MNC returned to the Hudson River estate very excited. He gathered up the first John Carter manuscript, the story of Norman of Torn, and the notes he had compiled regarding Tarzan. He then wrote the prefaces for all three pieces and sent the packet by special messenger to Chicago. Because the John Carter manuscript required the least amount of work to transform into fiction, Burroughs began working on that one first in July 1911 and he mailed the completed story to Thomas Metcalf of All-Story Magazine on August 14. The outlandish nature of John Carter’s story made both men hesitate to have their names appear in print as the author, so they chose to publish it under the pseudonym of “Normal Bean.” A typesetter altered this to “Norman Bean,” and Burroughs afterward decided that his stories would appear under his own name. He had intended to put himself forward as editor and Matthew Nicholas Carter as author—along the lines of the Doyle/Watson relationship—but Thomas Metcalf nixed this idea, writing in a letter of June 26, 1912, in reference to Tarzan of the Apes, “Do you think it would be advisable to run this story under the name Norman Bean, or shall I ignore my requests for some of that gentleman’s work and run it under Norman Bean, or your own name? Quite frankly we need to settle the issue of the author’s name as it will enable us to build you up, so whatever you decide make it a single name and we shall stick with it from here on out” (Porges p. 211).[35] Burroughs suggested that they run Tarzan under the byline “Edgar Rice Burroughs (Norman Bean),” and then the pen-name was dropped forever.

This situation suited Matthew Nicholas quite well. He had no real interest in becoming famous, nor did he need the royalties, which Burroughs did. They agreed that ERB was to keep all payments in exchange for dealing with the publishers and taking care of all other business arrangements. Carter’s distaste for business had stuck with him, and his earnings from John Carter’s estate as well as from the chain of general stores that Turner ran made royalty payments unnecessary and uninteresting to him.

In the spring of 1912 with the sale of “Under the Moons of Mars,” the probable sale of Tarzan of the Apes, and despite the initial rejection of Outlaw of Torn, Matthew Nicholas went ahead and wrote a preface for the manuscript that became Gods and also sent Burroughs versions of Warlord and Thuvia in a great packet. He included some of Carter’s notes that allowed Burroughs to translate some of the Barsoomian words Carter included as well as the units of time, and so on. MNC had little interest in this sort of work, but Burroughs took a great interest in it and pursued it as part of making the manuscripts more saleable. The footnotes that run throughout the Mars series are primarily the work of Burroughs. After Carter mailed these off, he decided to venture to Africa on a hunting trip (this was in June of 1912). He had learned from his jungle experience and decided to hunt lions in the Sahara desert in Algeria to prevent the big cats from being able to drop on him or his party. He also went alone (outside of the Arab guides and porters) because he did not want to risk the life of anyone close to him. Ben Porter’s death had scarred him.

The hunting was poor, and one suspects that MNC’s heart was not truly in the game. Approaching an oasis to make camp, MNC encountered an American standing beside a goat-skin tent. This American asked him to name the year and in surprised response declared that he had been gone for ten years. This man was, of course, David Innes. Carter spent a week with Innes and then abandoned his lion hunt to go to London and purchase a great quantity of supplies—books, rifles, revolvers, ammunition, cameras, chemicals, telephones, telegraph instruments, wire, tools, and more books.

Carter returned to Algeria, but was called back to America on business. Turner planned to merge the string of general stores with one of the newly emerging grocery store companies and he needed Carter’s support as a shareholder and board member. Carter reluctantly turned the supplies over to his trusted hunting guide and set off for the nearest port that shipped to America. With the supplies he included a long letter to Innes and over the next few months he received several letters from Innes before the explorer set off for Pellucidar.

In September of that year, the October issue of All-Story Magazine bearing Tarzan of the Apes went on sale. Someone shortly thereafter sent a copy of the magazine to Tarzan (Tarzan Alive p. 132). Most likely this person was Professor Archimedes Porter. All-Story was an American pulp and very few Americans knew of Tarzan’s existence. Jane Porter and Hazel Strong were both in England, and the only other American with any real experience of Tarzan—with the exception of Professor Porter’s fellow scientist Mr. Philander who would have given the magazine to Porter rather than contacting Tarzan directly—was Jane’s rejected suitor Robert Canler and he was unlikely to feel any obligation to Tarzan. Porter, on the other hand, had been saved from financial ruin by Tarzan (Tarzan of the Apes ch. 28). It seems likely that a student of Porter’s who knew the professor had been in Africa came across the story and gave a copy of the magazine to him. Tarzan wrote Burroughs and told him he should “continue to make the narratives highly romantic, even fantastic. Jane advised that, because she said that if people found out [he] was not a fictional character, [he] would never again have a moment of privacy” (“Interview” p. 206). Included in this note was an invitation to visit the Greystoke estates, either in England or Africa as it suited Burroughs. Burroughs, unable to take advantage of this invitation for financial reasons, forwarded a copy of this letter to Carter who had realized that the Jane Porter of the story was his great niece. This discovery paved the way for an invitation for Carter himself to visit the Claytons in Africa. Carter had been considering a return trip to Africa to pursue leads on Innes’ fate, and so the invitation came at just the right time.

MNC arrived at the Greystoke estate in Kenya in late May, 1913. Shortly thereafter, Barney and Victoria Custer, a brother and sister from Nebraska, arrived for a visit, and they were soon followed by their friends Mr. Curtiss and Lieutenant Butzow.[36] Matthew Nicholas spent a great deal of time catching Jane up on family matters. She remembered him from his many visits to Baltimore from her childhood (these visits had become less frequent after the death of Ben Porter). With Tarzan MNC discussed his publishing arrangement with Burroughs, Tarzan’s many adventures, and the story of his missing adopted son John. The party frequently went hunting, but after a few weeks Victoria Custer was shaken by a small earthquake and fell unconscious. After what seemed to have been a dream, but which Victoria insisted had been a physical journey to the pre-historic past, the Custer party decided to return to America. MNC escorted them to Duala on the coast to pick up the Emanuel, a steamer bound for England. On this overland journey the Custers shared the stories that became The Eternal Savage and the first half of The Mad King. They spent a miserable night at a “two-story atrocity that bore the legend ‘Hotel’ to lure unsuspecting wayfarers to its multitudinous discomforts” in German Kamerum run by a Herr Skopf (Son of Tarzan ch. 4). Ironically, they had missed seeing Tarzan’s missing adopted son John Drummond (Korak) by a few months. Skopf had mentioned the incident of the boy and his grandmother, but it wasn’t until MNC sat down to compile the notes that became Son of Tarzan that he realized he had so nearly missed finding Korak and saving Tarzan such heartache. MNC made notes of the Custers’ stories on his journey and posted them to Burroughs with the steamer.

From Duala, Carter headed north to Algeria to find the spot where he had first discovered David Innes. His old guide had died within a few weeks of his first departure, and he was unable to find any members of his former party to lead him to the same spot. He spent months, until January of 1914, scouring the scorching land and interviewing countless desert sheiks, but he could not find the telegraph lines that Innes had set up as a means of communicating with the surface world.

In September after his coronation as king, Barney Custer fulfilled his promise to fill in MNC should anything else happen regarding his cousin in Lutha. He sent these notes to Carter’s Hudson River address, and Jules Carter forwarded them to Burroughs, who began work on The Mad King in October.

During the next several years, from 1913 to 1920, Carter would see the Claytons several times, primarily in London although occasionally in Africa.

Leaving Algeria without success in the Innes matter, he journeyed to Lutha to see how Barney was getting on (his son Jules had informed him of Barney’s ascent to the throne). He arrived in February, 1914, and spent a few weeks in Luthan society. It was then that he heard the story of The Rider of the neighboring kingdom of Margoth (which became H.R.H. The Rider) either from Barney or from someone at court. From Lutha he journeyed to London to see Tennington, and while there Carter approached the Royal Geological Society with the details of Pellucidar, expecting to be hailed as a new Columbus and given an Honorary Fellowship in the Royal Geological Society, gold medals, and a niche in the Hall of Fame. The Fellow of the Society he spoke to scoffed at Carter’s fanciful tale and sent him, and Tennington who had arranged the introduction, packing. In March, MNC returned to America and mailed Innes’ story to Burroughs.

Carter would return to Africa almost immediately. In August, a letter from Cogdon Nestor, a young hunter, reached Carter via Burroughs. Nestor, writing from Algiers, reported that while hunting antelope he had found the telegraph box left by Innes buried in the sand clicking off a message, which he could not interpret as he did not know Morse code. Carter left immediately and by September had joined Nestor and employed Frank Downes, a trained telegrapher, to send messages to and translate them from Innes and Perry in Pellucidar. He recorded, in Innes own words, the story that became the novel Pellucidar.

The meeting with Cogdon Nestor was the start of a pattern of relationships Carter would have with young adventurous men for much of the rest of his life (others included Jason Gridley and Pat Morgan). Such friendships provided Carter with a sense of connection to his father as these young men invariably reminded him of John Carter. Nestor was a tall, smooth-faced man of about thirty, clean-cut, straight, and strong, and weather-tanned to the hue of an Arab. He had no trade or occupation, but wandered the world, having been left a competency by his father. MNC liked him immensely and greatly enjoyed the three months they spent together in the desert. Over the years Nestor would send him long letters detailing his wanderings around the world and occasionally Carter would join him.[37]

Carter visited the Clayton estate and would have traveled a bit in Europe before returning to America, but the outbreak of the Great War scotched these plans. Carter evidently spent most of the next year and a half quietly, although it appears he began to have health problems. These problems would dog him for the rest of his life and put limitations on his activities. In the spring of 1916 his doctor ordered him to go to Greenland for his health. The exact nature of his illness and the expected effect of the Greenland trip are unclear in the records, but the trip seems to have been effective. Being an indifferent fisherman and having neglected to bring much of anything to read, Carter found his rest cure to be rather boring, at least until early July when he spotted a green thermos bottle bobbing in the waves. Retrieving it, he found a manuscript written by Bowen Tyler Jr. detailing his adventures in Caspak, the “Land that Time Forgot” (and which became the basis for the novel of the same name). As soon as he could arrange it, Carter left Greenland and made his way to Santa Monica to deliver Tyler’s message to his father, Bowen Tyler Sr. Tyler Senior was in Hawaii and sadly died suddenly at sea while returning to Santa Monica after receiving word about his son. Following Tyler’s funeral, Carter set off on a rescue mission to Caspak, led by Tom Billings, Tyler Senior’s capable secretary. On August 4, 1916, the party reached Fort Dinosaur on Caprona (Caprona is the name of the entire island, Caspak the name of only a part of it). Billings and Bradley—first mate on the tug that rescued Tyler Jr. from the sunken cruise liner that was attacked by a German submarine—led the rescue mission and returned several months later. Due to the remoteness of Caprona and the uncertainty regarding the return of Billings, Bradley, and Tyler, the rest of the rescue party was unable to leave the island to visit any other port. Carter spent this time amiably swapping stories with the sailors Billings had brought to man the Tyler yacht. The rescue party returned wholly successful in May of 1917, and they steamed into the Santa Monica harbor in late June.

The rest of 1917 was quiet for Carter. Even though he carried his years well due to his genetic inheritance, Carter began to recognize the truth of his age, which was 62, and decided he needed to try to take things a bit easier. Although the Greenland cure had worked, he worried that his health might not continue solid. Further, he had just spent a year away from his wife and family. Carter spent the rest of the summer in New York and wintered in Virginia. He followed the progress of the war, which he found especially interesting in the light of the alternative history of the war present in the manuscripts left him by Vernon Julian. Whatever Julian had done had worked as American troops were bringing the conflict to a close.[38] The next summer Carter decided to organize his ever-growing collection of research and genealogical materials, so Catherine went visiting relatives, ending up in late summer with Carter’s maiden aunt and the other Rice relatives in Boston. The great influenza epidemic struck, and both the maiden aunt and Catherine Carter were taken down by it. Because of quarantines and associated travel restrictions, Carter was unable to get to Boston before his wife and aunt were buried. This struck him a great blow and he began to feel that he may have devoted too much time to his researches and overlooked his family. He spent the next year or so living with his children in succession and spending time with relatives in Virginia and Baltimore, but in July of 1920 he accepted an invitation from Edgar Rice Burroughs to see the Tarzana estate and so went to California.

This visit was just the thing for Carter’s mood. Sunny California and the company of a younger active man reinvigorated him. He stayed for a few months and met other friends of Burroughs whose visits overlapped with his (Porges p. 523). In the mornings while Burroughs wrote (Porges p. 312), Carter went riding with ERB’s secretary John Shea before Shea was needed in ERB’s office. During the day, Carter would read or sometimes aid in the work of the ranch (Chessmen p. 7). Evenings brought family dinners, long rambling conversations, and games of chess with Burroughs and Shea. Carter’s own children were grown, but Burroughs’ were still kids, and Carter enjoyed the sense of being in a house full of bustle and activity.

One night after the house had retired, MNC was sitting in the downstairs living room thinking about his life when he heard someone returning, or so he thought. Thinking it was Shea “returning to speak with [him] on some matter of tomorrow’s work,” he was pleasantly surprised to see John Carter enter the room. They caught up with each other and John went on to tell Matthew Nicholas the story of his step-sister Tara, which MNC recorded the next morning using Burroughs’ Dictaphone, a device ERB employed in his own writing (Porges p. 732-733) Even though MNC says nothing about it for obvious reasons, it is impossible to imagine that Carter did not rouse Burroughs from sleep and introduce him to his father. So John Carter and Burroughs most likely met at this time, which must have been a very exciting meeting for ERB, and perhaps the Dictaphone recording was not by Matthew Nicholas but by John.[39] Carter returned to the East shortly thereafter.

Over the next year, Burroughs’ financial difficulties increased, as did Carter’s need for a connection. He was close to his children, but really needed a friend instead. These needs came together when Carter invested money into Burroughs’ Tarzana ranch operation. He had a small house built on the edge of the ranch very close to ERB’s house and shared Burroughs’ office and secretary (by “shared,” we mean spent a lot of time hanging around in and talking to). Carter had thoughts of writing his own stories and made a few attempts. Burroughs made an effort to get these published, but was largely unsuccessful.[40]

Carter greatly enjoyed life in California. He spent his days leisurely and developed a number of friendships with young men in the area who were athletic and outgoing, like Jason Gridley and Pat Morgan. In 1924 he purchased a yacht and began spending a fair amount of time at the beach (Tanar p. 7). He also took pilot lessons and eventually bought an airplane (Jimber-Jaw p. 44).[41]

On June 8, 1925, John Carter returned for an unrecorded visit to drop off a letter and manuscript from Ulysses Paxton (which became Mastermind of Mars). It is likely that Burroughs joined the father and son for the visit, and we suspect that Jules Carter happened to be visiting and must have found seeing his grandfather—who appeared significantly younger than he—for the first time since he was a young boy exciting.

In 1926 Carter made the acquaintance of a twenty-three year old Stanford graduate and “radio bug,” Jason Gridely, who had purchased a couple of acres at Tarzana, then undergoing suburban development because of Burroughs’ financial difficulties. Gridley built a small Spanish-American farm house and set up a lab there. Carter erected a “Gridley Wave” station at Burroughs’ office, and he and Gridley often talked over the device, even though they lived within walking distance. They went yachting and horseback riding together, Gridley was constantly over at the office, and Carter frequently spent evenings in Gridley’s lab discussing “innumerable subjects, from ‘cabbages to kings’ and coming back” to the Gridley wave, Jason’s hobby horse (Tanar p. 6). Gridley nicknamed Carter “Admiral” for the yachting cap the older man often wore at the beach. These were happy times for Carter, and they only got better when Gridley’s receiving device began to pull in Morse code messages from Abner Perry in Pellucidar in 1926 (Tanar 9). This contact was followed up in 1928 with contact from Barsoom, giving Carter another adventurer to communicate with, Ulysses Paxton, with whom he spent countless nights learning about Barsoom.[42]

In 1927 when Gridley was off in Pellucidar (see Tarzan at the Earth’s Core), Carter began to suffer health problems and required a series of operations. The Carter records don’t indicate the cause of this illness, but there are indications Carter had developed cancer and the operations were performed to remove a tumor. They seem to have been successful though. After his recovery, he took some time for himself and visited a small cabin he and Burroughs owned in the White Mountains of Arizona. He had purchased this cabin as a place to get away, but also because he wanted to find the cave from which John Carter had transported himself to Mars. It does not seem that he ever did so, unfortunately.

On the tenth of June, 1928, he received an odd letter mailed from Guaymas, a seaport in Sonora on the Gulf of California. It told him to expect a spectral midnight visitor on the thirteenth. He thought the letter was from a crank and threw it in the trash. The next few days were consumed by a real estate transaction gone wrong, most likely dealing with the El Caballero Country Club, one of Burroughs’ failing ventures (Porges p. 593). On the clear moonlit night of the thirteenth, Carter woke to find a female figure swathed in a white winding sheet enter his room by passing through the closed door, just as the letter said would happen. She gave him this message, “He left Guadalupe today; he will wait in Guaymas for your letter,” and exited through the solid wall. The next morning at Burroughs’ office, Carter and Burroughs’ secretary Ralph Rothmund searched through the trash and found the letter from Carson Napier, who himself arrived a few days later. Napier was the son of a British army officer and a Virginian mother, born in India, but raised in Virginia at his grandfather, Judge John Carson (after whom he was named), since the death of his father when he was eleven . Carter knew Judge Carson by reputation, but did not suspect that he himself was related to Napier, who like himself and Burroughs could trace himself back to Deacon Rice (Escape on Venus p. 36).

In India, Napier had learned telepathy and the skill of projecting mental images of himself.[43] It was, in fact, one of these mental images that first came into Carter’s office. It faded and Napier himself, in the physical flesh, appeared at his door (Napier had been just outside in his car while he projected the mental image to Carter). The spectral visitor had been a test by Napier to see if Carter and he were in psychological harmony and if Carter had any telepathic abilities or sympathies.[44] Napier had not picked Carter at random. He planned to build a rocket to Mars and wanted to find someone he could communicate with telepathically to maintain a link to Earth and to send back reports of his adventures. He had originally chosen Burroughs because of their distant kinship, Burroughs’ interest in Mars, his reputation for integrity, and his profession as he wanted he results of his experience to be recorded by an experienced writer (Pirates of Venus p. 13). He investigated Burroughs, but found that the writer lacked the talent for telepathy. Napier found to his pleasant surprise that another relative lived at Tarzana and had such a talent, and so he chose Carter as his conduit, knowing that Carter would be able to get his exploits published via his relationship with ERB.

Besides recording and publishing his adventures, Napier asked Carter to take charge of his estate. The first task Carter eagerly agreed to as it fit with his life-long project of collecting and publishing family adventure narratives, but he hesitated to take on the second as he doubted his business abilities and did not want to be responsible for wasting the Napier estate. But he agreed in the end and did so without remuneration. Given Burroughs’ money troubles at the time, ERB might well have wished he had been chosen by Napier as he could very much have used the income that managing the Napier estate would have brought in.[45] Over the years, Carter would act as a sort of Dictaphone for Napier, whose telepathic communications stuck with MNC so that Carter could recall them word-for-word even years after receiving them. He received messages again in 1929 (Lost on Venus), 1930 (Carson of Venus), 1940 (Escape on Venus), and 1941 (The Wizard of Venus and an unpublished story).[46]

After Napier’s visit, Carter appears to have gone to Singapore under the alias John Tyler McCulloch and stayed there for some time, at least until some point in the middle of 1929, perhaps longer. Unfortunately the Carter records contain almost nothing from this period. Even Carter’s passport has pages that would fit this with period ripped out. What he was doing in Singapore and why he traveled under an alias are mysteries that we are hoping to solve by locating stories of elderly but active black-haired, gray-eyed men set in Singapore and the Far East at this time. It seems likely that if Carter had any adventures that they would have shown up in print. It is entirely possible that they did under the bylines of other writers, although nothing in the records directly suggests that MNC entered into such relationships with writers other than Burroughs. It is possible that the blank periods in this biography might mark times when he visited or worked with those writers and that he kept those relationships secret for some reason, although one suspect that the reasons would not have to do with jealousy on Burroughs’ part as such a reaction does not fit with ERB’s character.

At any rate, the one indication that we have that he was in Singapore at this time is a brief mention by John Lafitte in Pirate Blood of meeting a Mr. McCulloch in Singapore, who suggested he write down his adventures and furnished him with Burroughs’ name and address as a place to send the story to get it published (p. 63). Carter often gave out Burroughs’ name and the simple address of Tarzana, California, because of Burroughs’ world-wide fame and the ease people thus would have in remembering his friend’s name; further since Tarzana was a relatively small portion of Los Angeles and since Burroughs was its founder and most famous resident, mail sent to the Tarzana post office in ERB’s name easily found its way to the writer and thence to MNC.

How long Carter spent in Singapore and its environs is uncertain, but by June of 1932 he was back in Tarzana to receive, along with Burroughs, an unexpected visit from Tarzan, who had come to Hollywood after the events of Tarzan and the Lion Man (Farmer, “Interview,” p. 212). Tarzan thought that it might be fun to audition for a Tarzan film, but none was under production during this visit. He had missed the filming of the Johnny Weismuller movie Tarzan of the Apes (released in March 1932) and was too early to try out for the Buster Crabbe feature Tarzan the Fearless (released in August 1933). But, contrary to Farmer’s assertion that the screen test depicted in Tarzan and the Lion Man was fictional (Tarzan Alive p. 303), Tarzan in fact did audition for a role as a boy raised to manhood in the jungle, but not one raised by apes. Tarzan lost out to Buster Crabbe for the role of Kaspa in King of the Jungle King was a Tarzan knock-off produced by Paramount (MGM had the rights to Tarzan), based upon Charles T. Stoneham’s novel The Lion’s Way. During this visit, Tarzan narrated the story of Tarzan and the Lion Man to Burroughs and Carter and probably met Burroughs’ family before returning to England.

In 1934, Carter went camping in the White Mountains of Arizona for a few weeks by himself and pursued his search for the transportation cave as well as researching the Pueblo People (often referred to as the Anasazi), “the secret of their genesis and the even stranger secret of their extinction” (Swords p. 7). Carter appeared to him there and told of his adventure on Thuria, one of Mars’ moons (see Swords of Mars). It seems likely, if my supposition regarding Walter Carter is true, that Carter’s search here is related to something he learned from reading the manuscript for The War Chief or The Apache Devil.[47] Burroughs never published anything on the vanished Pueblo People, so the answer may lie, as we suggest above, in another writer’s work.[48]

In the summer of that year, Carter met a young flier, Pat Morgan, at an event of the El Caballero Country Club, where both men were members. Like Gridley, Morgan reminded Carter of his father and the two became close. Their friendship grew over time and they spent time together at the air field where both kept their planes. Morgan’s wife had passed away—another factor that the two had in common that served to bond them—and Carter had Morgan over to the house for dinner quite often. Morgan reciprocated by bringing MNC to movie sets, where he worked as a stunt flier. He had been a combat pilot in World War One and had numerous stories of his battles to relate. Lunching at the Vendome, a popular restaurant in Beverly Hills, Carter was discussing the disappearance of Jim Stone, a wrestling sensation whose matches Carter had been to with Burroughs. Stone had been involved with a Hollywood actress and had made quite a splash in the wrestling world with his unique style. Morgan appeared, disheveled, having just come from the police. In a rushed voice, he told Carter and his lunch companions the story of Jimber-Jaw, a frozen cave man Morgan and a scientist had unthawed in the Soviet Union, brought back to America, and turned into a star prize-fighter under the name Jim Stone.

In early 1938 (one wishes MNC had been as meticulous in his record keeping as ERB was), Ulysses Paxton sent Carter the story for Synthetic Men of Mars via the Gridley wave. Later that same year, before October, Carter received The Land of Terror from David Innes in the same fashion.[49]   At some point about this time a packet containing the notes for the two stories of Tarzan and the Castaways arrived from England.[50]

In February 1940 Burroughs, struggling under a number of financial obligations, including the support of his ex-wife and the limitation on foreign income due to the war in Europe, decided abruptly to move to Hawaii, where the cost of living was very low and where he hoped he could be free of social obligations and be able to focus on his writing in order to boost his income (Porges p. 937-938). Carter, not wanting to lose touch with his longest-established friend, offered to scout locations in Hawaii and to purchase a home there. He also offered simply to give Burroughs money, but the self-made man in ERB refused this act of charity despite being tempted. March found Carter in Lankai on Oahu, and Burroughs along with his family came the next month. March also marked the first contact from Carson Napier in some ten years. Napier narrated the events that had happened back in 1931; these remarks were edited into Escape on Venus. For some time Carter had suffered from arthritis and found typing difficult. Even repeating the story telepathically implanted by Napier tired him, so Burroughs typed the story as Carter spoke it and wrote the preface for Escape. Burroughs never liked writing such prefaces, as he states directly in his foreword to “Skeleton Men of Jupiter” (John Carter of Mars p. 81).[51]

In June, John Carter visited MNC to tell him the story of his granddaughter (and Matthew Nicholas’ niece) Llana of Gathol. Matthew Nicholas had not expected to see his father again, nor had John Carter himself really intended to visit Earth any more. But Carter felt drawn to see his son one more time. John Carter put it thus, “You see, you are the last of my earthly kin whom I know personally. Every once in a while I feel an urge to see you and visit with you, and at long intervals I am able to satisfy that urge—as now. After you are dead, and it will not be long now, I shall have no Earthly ties—no reason to return to the scenes of my former life” (p. vi).The Warlord of Barsoom could see that his son’s health had declined, and he was happy he had made the trip. Matthew Nicholas responded to the possibility that the immortal John Carter would lose contact with the world of his birth by suggesting that the Warlord visit his children—John Carter’s grandchildren—after he passed in order to maintain a connection with his Earthly kin, and John Carter half promised, “Perhaps I shall” (p. vi).He seems not to have done so, although he did stay in touch at times over the years with Jules Carter via the Gridley wave, though perhaps Paxton took on this duty and so the contact was indirect.

Carter must have brought a Gridley wave device with him as he began receiving the stories that made up Savage Pellucidar in July of 1940. He also received “Skeleton Men of Jupiter” at some point before October of 1941 via the wave, although there seems to have been some transmission trouble as only half the story arrived.[52]

Later that year in mid-October, Carter and Burroughs went to a party at Diamond Head where they were the only  whites, or malihinis (“newcomers”) as he put it (Beyond p.9). They spent the time after dinner listening to their hosts and guests—including several Hawaiian old-timers—tell of the superstitions and legends of ancient Hawaiians. Upon returning home, Carter went to bed, but was unable to sleep. The legends and tales he had heard were swirling in his brain, and he arose to attempt to outline a story based on these tales. He sat before his typewriter (the arthritis was manageable if he typed by the hunt and peck method instead of touch typing), but merely stared at the blank sheet he had inserted, the idea that drove him from bed eluding him. Perhaps he dozed, but he found the typewriter working by itself. He merely fed sheets of paper into it as each page finished and a new one was required. Somehow the spirit of an American airman shot down over German lines, reincarnated, and transported some 450,000 light years from Earth had found him and chosen his typewriter as the venue for his story. Clearly Carter’s telepathic abilities somehow made him attractive to Tangor, the otherwise unnamed airman whose mysterious typing began Beyond the Farthest Star.  The manuscript ended abruptly, “Listen! The sirens are sounding the general alarm,” so Carter maintained a midnight vigil for several weeks and had just about given up when Tangor returned (p. 84). This time Tangor manifested as an invisible presence, able to type and load the paper on his own, but otherwise unable to make  himself seen or heard.

Hawaiian life agreed with both Burroughs and Carter. They spent their time socializing and Burroughs was able to turn several Carter gave him into published works.With the war in Europe intensifying and the possibility of the U.S. entering war, Hawaii seemed quite the refuge, with military experts agreeing that if the Japanese attacked U.S. interests they would do so in the Phillipines or elsewhere in the eastern Pacific Rim.

In January of 1941, Carson Napier contacted him again, feeding him the stories for Wizard of Venus and Carson of Venus II These he tape-recorded, intending to pass them to Burroughs, but he misplaced the second reel so Burroughs never heard the story for Carson II. After Carter’s death, this tape was packed up by Jules Carter and only much later found its way to publication as a Dark Horse comic book. Napier sent Carter another story in November of 1941, and on December 2 Carter and Burroughs began transcribing it with the younger man doing the typing. They only got a few pages into the story when they took a break. This would be their last collaboration. On December fifth, Burroughs and his son Hulbert became involved in the investigation of the murder of Pearl Harada, a singer at the Niumala Hotel, which was indirectly connected to espionage surrounding the Japanese attacked (see The Pearl Harbor Murders). Burroughs watched the attack from a tennis court at Diamond Head where he and his son Hulbert were playing tennis. Carter was not so lucky. In fact, Burroughs unknowingly saw the remains of his friend’s car (though he never actually learned to whom the car belonged), which had been hit by an American anti-aircraft shell in downtown Honolulu (Porges p. 950).

Carter’s body was never found, but the police were able to identify his destroyed car from a license plate that partially survived the shell. His next-of-kin, Jules Carter, was notified and it was only when he arrived from the mainland to pack up Matthew Nicholas’ house that Burroughs learned the fate of his long-time friend. Jules had never had much contact with Burroughs, but was sympathetic to his feelings. Matthew Nicholas’ funeral was held at the Hudson River cottage in a private, family ceremony as there was no body to bury and MNC had not been especially religious.[53]

Jules Carter seems to have packed up several manuscripts and tapes that his father had not yet given to Burroughs.The fate of these stories, numerous other manuscripts that were stored in the Carter archives, and the Carter archives themselves will be told in the next installment of this series, “Lost in Translation: The Burroughs Pastiches, Authorized and Otherwise.”[54]

Works Cited

Burroughs, Edgar Rice. Beyond the Farthest Star. New York: Ace Books, 1964.
---.The Chessmen of Mars. New York: Ballantine, 1963.
--- Escape on Venus. New York: Ace Books, 1946.
---.The Eternal Savage. New York: Ballantine, 1963.
---.The Gods of Mars. 1913. New York: Ballantine, 1963.
---.John Carter of Mars. New York: Ballantine, 1965.
---.Llana of Gathol. New York: Ballantine, 1963.
---.Land that Time Forgot. New York: Ace Books, 1964.
---.The Lost Continent. New York: Ace Books, 1963.
---.Lost on Venus. New York: Ace Books, 1963.
---.The Moon Maid. New York: Ace Books, 1963.
---.The Outlaw of Torn. 1914. New York: Ace Books, 1968.
---.Pirate Blood. In The Wizard of Venus. New York: Ace Books, 1979.
---.Pirates of Venus. New York: Ace Books, 1963. ---.A Princess of Mars. 1912. New York: Ballantine, 1963.
---.The Resurrection of Jimber-Jaw. The Fantastic Pulps. Ed. Peter Haining. New York: St. Martin’s, 1975. 42-61
---.The Son of Tarzan. New York: Ballantine, 1963.
---.Swords of Mars. New York: Ballantine, 1963.
---.Tanar of Pellucidar. New York: Ace Books, 1963.
---.Tarzan of the Apes. New York: Ballantine, 1963.
---.The Warlord of Mars. New York: Ballantine, 1963.

Bloodstone, John [Stuart Byrne]. Tarzan on Mars. Photocopy from typescript. No publisher. N.d

Collins, Max Allan. The Pearl Harbor Murders. New York: Berkley Publishing, 2001.

Crystal, Ellie. “Prieure de Sion.” Crystalinks <http://www.crystalinks.com/templars5.html>.

Eckert, Win. The Wold  Newton Universe Cross Over Chronology, Part X. <http://www.pjfarmer.com/woldnewton/Chron10.htm>

Edson, J.T. (John Thomas). Sacrifice for the Quagga God.  London: Corgi, 1976.

Effinger, George Alec. “Mars: The Homefront.” War of the Worlds: Global Dispatches. Ed. Kevin J. Anderson. New York: Bantam Books, 1996.

Farmer, Philip José. Tarzan Alive: A Definitive Biography of Lord Greystoke. New York: Popular Library, 1972.
---.“An Exclusive Interview with ‘Lord Greystoke’.”  New York: Daw Books, 1973
---.“Extracts from the Memoirs of Lord Greystoke.” New York: Pyramid Books, [1976, c1974

Moore, Alan, and Kevin O’Neill.The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Vol. 2. America’s Best Comics. 2003.

Nevins, Jess. “The Carters of Virginia: A Tragedy.” 25 Sept. 2000. Some Unknown Members of Wold-Newton Family <http://ratmmjess.tripod.com/wold2.html>.
---.Some Unknown Members of Wold-Newton Family. 25 Sept. 2000. <http://ratmmjess.tripod.com/wold.html>.

“Orval's Abbey—Plunder and Destruction.” <http://users.skynet.be/bs802199/FILES_E/Chapitre_E/02-Orval_E.html>.

Porges, Irwin. Edgar Rice Burroughs: The Man Who Created Tarzan. Provo, UT: Brigham Young UP, 1975.

Power, Dennis. “An Addendum to ‘The Porters’.” The Secret History of the Wold Newton Universe. 10 Mar. 2002<http://www.pjfarmer.com/secret/tarzan/Porters-Secret-files.htm>.

Power, Dennis, and Peter Coogan. “Torn from Phoenician Dreams.” An Expansion of Philip José Farmer’s Wold Newton Universe. 3 Aug. 2003. <http://www.pjfarmer.com/woldnewton/Articles8.htm#Carter>.
---.“Torn from Phoenician Dreams, Part Two: The Lives and Times of John Carter.”The Secret History of the Wold Newton Universe. 22 Dec. 2002. <http://www.pjfarmer.com/secret/Immortal/phra2.htm>.
---. “Gullivar of Mars IS Ulysses Paxton!” An Expansion of Philip José Farmer’s  Wold Newton Universe. 3 Aug. 2003. <http://www.pjfarmer.com/woldnewton/Articles9.htm>.

Roy, John Flint.A Guide to Barsoom New York: Ballantine Books, 1976

Rutt, Todd, and Arn McConnell. “The Mysterious Case of the Carters.” Wold Atlas 1.2 (1977). The Wold Newton Chronicles. Ed. Mark Brown. 10 Nov. 2000. <http://hometown.aol.com/kickaha23/Carters1.html>


[1] "Burroughs" visit to Tarzan's African estates is mentioned in the preface to The Eternal Savage, his visit to England in The Outlaw of Torn, his trip to Greenland in The Land that Time Forgot, and his year in Caspak in The People that Time Forgot.
[2] Further proof of this distinction comes in Tarzan of Mars in which Jules Ainsworth Carter, put forward as a "Burroughs" candidate, is alive even though the novel was clearly written after Burroughs himself had died. Another bit of proof comes in "Mars: The Homefront," which was written "recently" after the events of the War of the Worlds, yet Burroughs himself did not publish this manuscript; instead it must have sat in a file until it was given to George Alec Effinger.
[4] In Chessmen, John Carter comments that “Burroughs” aged less than “most men in a corresponding number of years” (p. 8). But over the years John Carter also made comments that indicated “Burroughs” might be in ill-health and possibly headed toward the grave (Gods p. vi; Llana p. vi). Additionally, “Burroughs” was sent to Greenland in 1916 on his doctor’s orders (Land p. 8), and had a series of operations starting in the mid-nineteen twenties (Pirates of Venus p. 9).
[5] Further confusing matters, and possibly indicating the source of Nevins claim, is the existence of a second Walter Carter. This Walter Carter was born in 1875, and Matthew Nicholas Carter, the true “Burroughs,” had made plans to assume his identity in order to hide his longevity in case it turned out that he needed to create another, younger identity as John Carter frequently had done. (The use of initials in the following paragraph is an unfortunate necessity dictated by the source of our information, a letter from Charlotte Temple’s step-mother; this letter referred only to Lieutenant M. and his compatriot B. but did not give further information regarding their names).
In 1875 a woman showed up at the Carter estate, sick, severely beaten, and in labor. She was Charlotte Temple, the much younger step-sister of Matthew Carter. Matthew’s parents had taken a trip to England in 1850 to explore their ancestral haunts His father became ill and passed away.His mother, a handsome woman in her forties, stayed with relatives and eventually married a younger husband, a Mr. Temple, the youngest son of a nobleman whose fortune did not match the grandeur of his family name, but who did possess a small estate. Temple had a young daughter named Charlotte from a previous marriage. She grew up to be a beautiful young woman, but was taken advantage of by Lieutenant M., a rascal. He took her to his post in Canada, where they lived gaily for a time. She got pregnant, and he abandoned his post for a profitable venture in America. Charlotte caught up with him in Virginia, where M. established her in a country house some miles from Richmond. But he ignored her and left her in the dissolute hands of his vice-ridden companion, B. B. abused Charlotte mentally and physically. Charlotte discovered the existence of the Carters in a letter her mother had sent to her address in Canada and set out on foot to meet her step-brother. She was too weak to survive the labor, but named the baby Walter before she died. Matthew Carter adopted the boy, bestowing his last name upon his nephew.
While the chances of a woman named Charlotte Temple repeating the events of the novel Charlotte Temple in her own life seem remote (even odder is the fact that as a young girl she seems to have loved the novel for its tale of lost love and disgrace), the probability magnetism running through the Wold-Newton Family can explain this coincidence. Probability magnetism is mostly thought of as a positive force that keeps people like Tarzan alive, but it has a negative side, drawing unfortunate circumstances to some members of the family.While the idea of a “luck gene” may seem ridiculous, it may have a basis in fact. A friend of mine (who prefers to remain anonymous) working on the human genome project at Washington University has begun investigations into the idea of probability magnetism by studying family gambling patterns at the St. Louis area river boat casinos. Unfortunately he has been unable to attract much funding, given that the majority of the money for the study is lost at the craps and roulette tables. He is currently seeking funding from the gaming industry on the assumption that a genetic tendency to winning or losing might be of interest to them.
[6] Todd Rutt and Arn McConnell in “The Mysterious Case of the Carters” leave the whole Burroughs/“Burroughs” conundrum unexplained. Jess Nevins in “The Carters of Virginia: A Tragedy” identifies John Carter’s nephew as Walter Carter. But Nevins’ account has a number of problems. Dennis Power and I discuss these articles in some depth in “The Lives and Times of John Carter.” Bloodstone in Tarzan of Mars implies that Jules Carter, who is identified as John Carter's nephew, is “Burroughs.”
In the Marvel Comics series John Carter: Warlord of Mars, Burroughs himself is referred to as Carter's nephew by John Carter himself. Both these texts are problematic as they were translated from Barsoomian. See "Lost in Translation" by Peter Coogan (forthcoming) for an explanation. It's important to note that the Heliumite characters for son and nephew are very close and would be easy to mistake for each other.
[7] In “Torn from Phoenician Dreams” Dennis Power and I asserted that I, Peter Coogan, had special access to Edgar Rice Burroughs’ records due to help from The Shadow’s organization. This help was granted in recognition that my great-grandfather had been murdered while serving as an agent of The Shadow (see Cheryl Huttner’s forthcoming “Tangled Shadows”). This statement was true at the time we were researching Carter’s life. But during my last visit to the Burroughs estate, I mentioned that I would be returning to research the life of Matthew Nicholas Carter. Ever since then the Burroughs estate has refused all contact with me. This seems to be a story that they do not want told.
Luckily, I have been able to replace this access with much more valuable access to the Carter archives proper. These are maintained in the Carter cottage on the Hudson River by John Carter’s great-grandson “Land” Carter. Although most people assume that Land is short for Landon, a Carter family name, in fact it is short for MacFarland. Land’s full name is MacFarland Coogan Carter. Readers might wonder at the coincidence of our names, but this coincidence goes much further.Not only do we share “Coogan,” we also share “MacFarland.”Some explanation is necessary.
I met Land on a boat to Ireland when we, and millions of other Americans, were traveling around Europe in the summer of 1985. I had just finished eight weeks of language training at the Goethe Institute in Freiburg, Germany, and Land was making his own way around the Continent “living off the land” (pun intended) by drawing caricatures in bars and on the street, although he did this only as a challenge to himself as he had been well provided for by his family. We noticed the connection of our names immediately, but determined that we were not related in three ways—two of them by court order.
First MacFarland. My middle name comes from my grandfather, Roy MacFarland Smith. He received it because he was born two days after a MacFarland saved his uncle from drowning. Roy’s father bestowed the savior’s name on his son in gratitude for the stranger saving his brother’s life. This same MacFarland was Land’s maternal great-grandfather. A strange coincidence, admittedly, but not nearly as odd as the Coogan connection.
My last name is, of course, my father’s last name, and so on going back to four Irish brothers who emigrated to the U.S. in the 1850s along with millions of other poor Irish. My great-grandfather (who was an agent of The Shadow) Francis Coogan headlined “Coogan and Casey” a famous vaudeville act, so famous in fact that following the success of her son in Charlie Chaplin’s The Kid, Jackie Coogan’s mother began to claim that her son and my great-grandfather were related. Francis Coogan took her to court and won.So legally I am not related to Jackie Coogan.
Jackie Coogan was the subject of another lawsuit, a paternity suit.Land Carter’s maternal grandmother claimed that Coogan had gotten her pregnant, identified him as the father at the hospital, and gave her daughter his last name. She then sued for child support. The case was dismissed under circumstances that left the truth of the matter uncertain, but legally Jackie Coogan was not the father of Mary Elizabeth Coogan, Land Carter’s mother. But Mary believed her mother’s stories and passed on the name to her son.
So Land Carter and I are not related to each other, but we remained in contact with each other after returning from Europe in 1985. After I became involved in Wold-Newtonry, I happened to be in the New York area and dropped by Land’s cottage (“cottage” is a bit of an understatement, but it’s understandable that Matthew Nicholas Carter would refer to the house as a cottage when he first saw it in the 1870s) and we got to talking. He had continued his grandfather Jules’ work of collecting family materials and stories of adventurers, but had not made connections with others doing such work although he was familiar with Philip José Farmer’s work. Since then he has graciously made his family’s archive available to me although he has demurred from writing articles himself.
[8] The story of MNC’s parents’ marriage and his paternity is told in “Torn from Phoenician Dreams, Part Two: The Lives and Times of John Carter.” Facts about Carter’s life presented in this article are taken from that piece as well as the first part of the series, “Torn from Phoenician Dreams.”
[9] In an odd bit of genealogical coincidence, Carter’s wife Sarah had an older half-sister from her mother’s earlier marriage. This sister married the brother of Deacon Edmund Rice, a Pilgrim from Buckhampshire, England, who settled in Sudbury, Massachusetts, in 1638. Thus John Carter was, in a sense, the uncle of Deacon Rice’s children. Deacon Rice is the ancestral source of the Rice in Burroughs’ name. Thus, in a tangential sense, John Carter could be said to be Edgar Rice Burroughs’ great uncle.
[10] Given that Matthew Carter is most likely descended from Robert “King” Carter, he is therefore descended from John Carter. It’s also possible, and can hopefully be determined by further genealogical research, that John Carter is Matthew Carter’s father or grandfather, although this seems unlikely.
[11]  For more on William Porter, see Dennis Power’s “An Addendum to ‘The Porters’.”
[12] After the Civil War, Ben sought out his parents and took on their last name. He discovered that he had a half-sister, Esmerelda, and stayed in touch with her the rest of his life. Although Ben did not know it, he died in the hunting grounds of his grandfather’s tribe, the Waziri.
[13] This commitment to protecting his aunt’s image of her sister explains why John Carter is called MNC’s uncle until Chessmen, published in 1922.
[14] The story of Carter’s gold prospecting in Arizona is told in Burroughs’ A Princess of Mars. Dennis Power and I provide some analysis of this story in “Torn from Phoenician Dreams, Part Two: The Lives and Times of John Carter.”
[15] Jane Carter Lee was the daughter of Simon Carter, John Carter’s son. Matthew Nicholas Carter by this point strongly suspected that John Carter was his father, but was unaware of John’s relationship to Simon, nor his own. When he later learned the truth—about both Simon and himself—he came to understand that Jane Carter Lee was his niece rather than his cousin; therefore Jane Porter was his great niece. This connection would later prove important.
[16] Dennis Power and I speculate that he did so because he had learned that his son Simon was living in New York. Carter may also have unconsciously been drawn to the area because of his days spent there during the Colonial period, which memories had been lost. For more on Carter’s memory issues and these speculations, see The Lives and Times of John Carter.
[18] This realization had been a long time in coming, but once it came, it stuck. Years later MNC asserted, “I detest business and everything connected with it” (Pirates of Venus p. 13). Carter pursued “the idea” of editing John’s manuscript but made little progress. After a life of working for his father, once on his own MNC became very lackadaisical about completing projects and took a leisurely view of life. This view partially arose from the expectation that he would, like John Carter had, live for untold centuries. MNC was mistaken in this belief, though.
[19] This business arrangement turned out very well for the Carters. Josiah Turner’s stores were eventually bought out by the Kroger grocery chain. The Carters receive income to this day from their Kroger stock.
[20] For more on Vernon Julian, please see the article “Jules Verne—Savior of the World?
[21] This was, of course, the Wold-Newton family. For a sense of Carter’s relation to the WNF, see Farmer’s discussion of Jane Porter in Tarzan Alive.
[22] MNC made these fanciful diaries as gifts for his family. Each was unique and on the front piece, MN created an identity that fit with the diary, always using some combination of his initials MNC. Most of the family didn’t really appreciate the humor of the diaries—at times they seem akin to the novels of Tom Robbins—but one of his cousins did. This was the grandchild of one of his maternal aunts who lived in Boston. The sickly boy, Weisshaupt Rice, read science fiction, fantasy, Westerns, adventure novels, and pulps voraciously and would tell his maiden aunt (Bianca Rice’s older sister who had lived on the Carter plantation for some time before the Civil War with her mother) stories from these novels. Weisshaupt knew MNC was “Burroughs,” which is why ERB and MNC could not reveal that “Burroughs” was JC’s son as Weiss would have told his maiden great-aunt and she would have been scandalized to death, as she put it when talking about propriety. The aunt had returned to Boston during the Civil War, but MNC kept in touch with her (and the rest of his extended family). She died in the great influenza epidemic that followed World War One along with MNC’s wife Catherine, who was visiting her at the time.
Dennis Power and I have come to believe that one of these diaries is the one found by Jess Nevins in the Barzonia County Library (see “Some Unknown Members of Wold-Newton Family”). These diaries do contain much accurate information about the Wold-Newton Family but also contain a great deal of MNC’s fictional and fictionalized family history. Exactly how this diary ended up in the Barzonia County Library is a mystery, but it may well have come from the estate of a family member or may have come through the hands of Barton Werper (for more on Werper, see Pete Coogan’s forthcoming “Lost in Translation”). These diaries indicate the unrealized potential Carter might have had as a novelist.
[23] For more on Carter’s role in the War of the Worlds, see The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen volume two, and Dennis Power’s and Dr. Peter Coogan's “Gullivar of Mars IS Ulysses Paxton!”
[24] As scholars of the Wold Newton Universe know, records of the events of the War of the Worlds—including even such private documents as diaries and letters—are strangely hard to find. It is almost as if a well funded and organized group were systematically seeking out and destroying such records.
[25] Although John Carter had previously demonstrated that he could transport himself bodily from Mars without making use of his entombed body, on this occasion he did return to his earthly body. He did so to check on it and to check on the tomb where it slept. Carter habitually evidenced a fearlessness in all his doing. While he was truly brave, on Mars he knew that even if he were killed he would reawaken in the Richmond crypt, hale and whole. Thus his body was his insurance policy against death. He stopped using it as a means of visiting MNC as he could teleport directly from Mars to wherever MNC was at any time, whereas using his entombed body would require physical travel on Earth.
[26] The Carter archives in the Hudson River estate contain many of MNC’s original drafts. These were typed and sent to Edgar Rice Burroughs after the two men had made their publishing agreement.
[27] See Nevins’ “The Carters of Virginia” for frequent references to the researches of “MN.”
[28] For more on Phra and Gullivar Jones see “Torn from Phoenician Dreams” and “Gullivar Jones IS Ulysses Paxton!” by Dennis Power and Peter Coogan.
[29] Unfortunately, Carter’s notes about the trip do not mention enough specifics to precisely locate the hunting grounds he visited.
[30] Ironically, Ben Porter’s father William was a Waziri who was kidnapped and sold into slavery in 1823 at the age of ten. But Porter was unaware of this history as his father had long since ceased to speak of his former life in Africa. It is quite possible that Busuli was a relative of Ben Porter’s.
[31] At Cornell MNC made the acquaintance of Professor Arthur Moxon, whose story was told in The Monster Men.
[32]The Wold Newton Universe Cross Over Chronology, Part X http://www.pjfarmer.com/woldnewton/Chron10.htm
[33] Norman turned out to have been John Carter.See “Torn from Phoenician Dreams.”
[34] It is possible that monastery was associated with the Abbey of Orval, a center of Templar activity, which would help to explain its manuscript collection.See “Orval's Abbey—Plunder and Destruction” http://www.crystalinks.com/templars5.html and “Prieure de Sion.”http://users.skynet.be/bs802199/FILES_E/Chapitre_E/02-Orval_E.html. It may be that the manuscript collection was the treasure that was frequently sought at Orval.
[35] Porges does not quote the final sentence presented here, but a typed copy of this letter can be found in the Carter archives in the Hudson River estate.
[36] We have been unable to determine the nature of the relationship between the Custers and the Claytons.It seems that Victoria was invited and Barney tagged along, but as to how Victoria knew or was related to the Claytons (most likely her relationship was with her fellow American Jane) is as yet undetermined.It seems possible that Victoria attended a finishing school for girls in the South to cure her of her tomboy ways. If so, she may have met Jane through mutual acquaintances. The two women do not differ significantly in age.
[37]  We suspect, although without any material basis, that it was Nestor whom Carter visited in Singapore in 1928.
[38] In The Lost Continent and The Moon Maid, which were based upon Vernon Julian’s manuscripts, the Great War went much differently than it did in our history.
[39] If so, then the Burroughs estate has a recording of inestimable value, but the chances of their releasing it is negligible.
[40] It’s possible that “Beware” (published title, “The Scientists Revolt”) is by Carter. It may have been based upon real events, or may have been fictional. It was published under the pseudonym John Tyler McCulloch, a name Carter used while travelling in Asia in 1928-29. Robert Davis, an editor at All-Story, rejected the piece (Ray Palmer published it by changing it from a “Mad King” type small-kingdom story into a science-fiction setting), describing it as “the nearest approach to mediocrity that ever came from your pen” (Porges p. 557). Burroughs had submitted it to Davis as his own,  attempting to sell the story on the strength of his relationship with Davis (he had done a similar thing with Outlaw of Torn, which was purchased more to ensure the opportunity to publish future Tarzan novels than for Torn’s own merits).
[41] As further proof that Burroughs was not “Burroughs,” ERB didn’t particularly like airplanes (Porges p. 522-523).
[42] It is likely that Jules Carter was given a Gridley wave set up, and through this device began a systematic study of Barsoom, its language, culture, and history.
[43] According to our research (see “Torn from Phoenician Dreams, Part Two: The Many Lives of John Carter”), John Carter also learned such skills in India. Perhaps Napier studied at the same lamasery as Carter.
[44] He evidently did and these were likely inherited from his father, a gifted telepath whose powers only developed on Mars. Likely it was this telepathic sympathy that enabled Tangor to contact Carter (see Beyond the Farthest Star).
[45] As Napier never returned to Earth, it seems likely that the Napier estate was eventually folded into the Carter holdings.
[46] This unpublished story was likely a telling of the events depicted in Carson of Venus II, published by Dark Horse Comics.
[47] Walter Carter served at Fort Grant, the same fort Burroughs suffered at, but a few years later. But Carter did not leave as Burroughs did. Instead he disappeared into the Apache nation, whether via death or adoption is not known. His body was never found. It is possible that Walter Carter is the source of Burroughs’ Apache novels, although how he got the manuscripts to Matthew Nicholas Carter is a mystery.
[48] We have some suspicions regarding what Carter might have been researching and they involve a pre-Columbian visit by Arthurian-age Britons. Peter Coogan hopes to publish the results of those researches as fiction in an Arthurian trilogy, but he can say no more for the moment.
[49] Presumably other Barsoomian or Pellucidarian adventures from this period were sent via the Gridley wave. Land Carter is currently planning to catalog the entire Carter archive For more information regarding the Carter archive and Land Carter, please see “Lost in Translation: The Burroughs Pastiches, Authorized and Otherwise” (forthcoming).
[50] This date is based upon a torn postal slip indicating that Carter had a package waiting for him at the post office. It bears a date that is either in November or December; only the last portion of the name of the month and the country of origin is legible on the surviving scrap.
[51] Few of the Tarzan novels contain prefatory material because they were primarily constructed by Burroughs. Unlike John Carter’s bulging portfolio from which MNC extracted Gods, Warlord, and Thuvia, Tarzan delivered fairly detailed outlines and chronologies to Carter, who for the most part passed them along without comment or addition to Burroughs. Burroughs was then able to turn them into novels on his own.
[52] Or at least most scholars believe so. It is possible that Paxton sent the rest of the story at the same time but MNC failed to give it to Burroughs and it ended up back at the Carter archive following MNC’s death.
[53] Given the experience of John Carter, Ulysses Paxton, and Tangor, it is likely that MNC believed he would be resurrected on another planet after his death.As his body was not found, he may well have been and we may have read his adventures if he was able to contact a writer on Earth. The research continues.
[54] The pattern of Matthew Nicholas Carter’s life suggests a possible conclusion about the man. MNC married young and clearly loved his wife. They had four children, yet something seemed to be missing in his life, as became evident from his restlessness once he inherited Carter’s money and his desire to get away from the ordinary life of business. Although MNC loved his wife and children, he spent little time with them overall. When Ben Porter died, MNC was disconsolate. As he aged, MNC spent much of his time with young men who were adventurous, athletic, and outgoing. This is especially true after his wife died.Yet MNC had a son whom he seems to have spent little time with. Was there a rift between them? Some secret caused a great void between father and son? Was perhaps MNC gay? Was perhaps Ben Porter more than just MNC's body-servant and his friend, was he perhaps MNC's lover? Perhaps this is why Ben's death affected him so greatly.Perhaps the fact that MNC was living a lie as a "straight" man (although in the era that he lived he could do little else) was one of the sources of his depression. Although MNC probably never took another male lover after Ben Porter, Burroughs likely filled the emotional void that Ben used to fill as his best frien  Although MNC repressed his sexual urges, he found himself fascinated by young men and found that he was driven to seek out their company.
We have elsewhere suggested another possible explanation for MNC’s attraction to young adventurous men, that they were substitutes for his father, who was physically younger and certainly more adventurous than MNC. But the gay hypothesis is intriguing. Unfortunately, nothing in the records confirms it, but nothing specifically negates it. It is one of those mysteries that a biographer cannot solve.
© 2003 Dr. Peter Coogan
© 2003 Dennis Power