Appeared in: All-Story Magazine, October 1912
John and Alice Clayton (Lord and Lady Greystoke) are shipwrecked on the western coast of Africa and are forced to build a shelter where Alice gives birth to their son. A year passes and Alice dies of a fever while John is killed by the king ape Kerchak. the infant is adopted by Kala the ape, and brought into the tribe where he is given the name ‘Tarzan’ meaning ‘white-skin’.
Tarzan grows to boyhood and regularly visits his parent’s dilapidated hut where he sees photographs that prove there are others like him and by studying his father’s books, he teaches himself to read. At odds with Kerchak (who has grown envious of Tarzan’s popularity in the tribe) Tarzan eventually fights and kills him and takes his place as lord of the apes.
A party of strangers arrive including the professor Archimedes Q. Porter and his beautiful daughter Jane. Tarzan watches over them and saves them from several encounters with the jungle’s hostile residents. But another member of the party is William Cecil Clayton, cousin to Tarzan and the current Lord of Greystoke, who desires Jane’s hand in marriage.
Not much can be said about Tarzan that is not considered general knowledge. The character is the most famous to emerge from the pulps and Burroughs penned 24 sequels. Along with Dracula and Sherlock Holmes, Tarzan is one of the most filmed fictional characters of all time but a truly faithful adaptation of this first novel has yet to be made. The current favorite with regards to authenticity is arguably Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes (1984) starring Christopher Lambert.