Bill Hillman's
Weekly Online Fanzine
Volume 053

Studley Oldham Burroughs
1892 - 1949
Compiled by Bill Hillman

Studley Oldham Burroughs was ERB's nephew, born December 26, 1892 to brother Harry and his wife Ella (Nellie) Burroughs. He was named after his father whose full name was Henry Studley Burroughs, and his mother whose maiden name was Oldham. Both Studley and his sister, Mary Evelyn (born March 12, 1895) were born in Chicago. Harry and Nellie took both children to Minidoka  during the Burroughs brothers gold mining venture. The Burroughs family were quite excited about the birth of the new baby boy. In April 1895 Ed wrote to his brother, "How is the kid? From all of your letters I will expect to find him riding a bicycle and reading Caesar on my return in the summer. Don't rush him too much. He may get brain fever. Just tell him to follow after his uncle - if he wants to be a blooming idiot."

Young Studley, the budding artist was probably influenced by his uncle Ed more than most people realize. Long before his talents as a writer were recognized worldwide, Ed was writing humorous bits of fantasy, which he illustrated with quite clever and artistic sketches and cartoons. In 1909, ERB sent his young nephew a personally illustrated Christmas card. His verse is headed in large capitals: "S.O.B." and he jokes about his financial state: "Please accept from Edgar Rice The best he's got to give -- advice:  Start a Bank Account."

Illustrated advice to nephew Studley Burroughs
From the Danton Burroughs Family Archive ~ Copyright ERB, Inc. ~ Not for duplication
ERB helped (probably unsuccessfully) to get Ella's stories and poems published. Ella's writing was far from the fantasy vein so popular with her brother-in-law. Her themes dealt with more realisitic human relationships and settings, and were no doubt influenced by the primitive lifestyle in the wilds of Idaho to which she had to adapt. The experience of raising two young children on a houseboat on the Snake River at the turn of the century was obviously in stark contrast to anything she had experienced in her younger days back in civilization. Her writing style mirrored a woman of great sensitivity -- a sensitivity and intenseness that was obviously passed on to her son.  The family's artistic talent influenced Studley who was drawing and painting at an early age. He sketched constantly and even created murals on the wallpaper of their home. He reflected in later years: "From the cave man down, I assume the artist's impulse instinctively has sought to express itself in mural decoration, so I simply behaved true to type."  The young cave man artist went on to a moderately successful career in commercial design and illustration. Studley was hired at age seventeen working as an apprentice doing lettering for a company in Chicago. He started out with almost no formal training but studied at nights at a wide variety of places of art instruction. One of his major influences was Audubon Tyler, one ofhis his instructors at the National Academy of Art in Chicago.

He went on to work as a feature artist at the Chicago Herald from where he moved to New York to work for Mothers Magazine. From there he moved to Los Angeles where his uncle Ed helped him gain employment at the Foster and Keiser Company. In 1914 Ed Burroughs wrote his main contact at All-Story Magazine to enquire about job possibilities for his nephew: "By the way, if my nephew cared to submit a cover design with one of my future stories would it receive consideration?  He's a mighty clever young chap, and I don't know of anyone I'd rather swee him get a start with than you. He's doing rather well now, but nothing very steady, and his work is improving wonderfully." It was around this time that his work appeared as an illlustration in his grandmother, Mary Evaline's Memoirs Of A War Bride, in which she related her experiences during the American Civil War.

Personalized ERB bookplate by nephew Studley Burroughs
Studley also did work for The Los Angeles Tribune's Sunday Fiction Magazine, including the cartoon, "Self-Control Is A Wonderful Virtue in the February 27, 1916 issue and an illustration for "Red, the Mediator" by Montague Glass in the March 19, 1916 issue.
On April 22, 1919, his wife of only two years (Mary Becker) died in childbirth. On the verge of a breakdown, Studley, leaving his infant daughter in the care of his parents, accepted ERB's invitation to visit Tarzana Ranch. He helped lay out a nine-hole golf course and even designed a special golf scorecard. It was probably around this time that Studley designed an ex libris (bookplate) for ERB's personal books.  he described the 4" x 2 1/4" design in a letter to ERB:

"The central figure is Tarzan embraced by one of his apes (Kala perhaps) and upholding the Planet Mars, which can be easily identified by its two moons, the Greater and the Lesser. (Not being a landscape artist I omitted the canals. They are the only things I think I have omitted.) The pen crossed with the sword indicate what I believe to be your two chief interests at this date. The laurel wreath, of course, depicts a degree of fame.In the crest below I have symbolized the four most pronounced epics of your career, starting with your days in the Cavalry, and following, in order, your life in the West, your return to the more civilized East, and lastly, your advent in the world of books, magazines, et al. (If anything of moment occurred before this, it was prior to our acquaintance.) In the panel behind Tarzan may be found my conception of the characters in some of your other bully-good stories."

ERB proudly sent copies of the ex libris to book collectors and fans, often accompanied by the above interpretation. He even added:

"The shield in the lower left hand corner represents what my nephew conceived to be four important epochs of my life -- my interest in military affairs being symbolized by the cavalry boot and spur, the cow's skull representing my experience as a cowboy, the automobile wheel my interest in motoring, and the open volume my love of books."

In March 1920 he rushed back to Chicago where his year-old daughter Margaret Mary had been stricken with spinal meningitis -- she died before he could reach her.

Concerning the grief over the serious illness of son Studley's child.
From the personal archives of Danton Burroughs

COVERING NOTE FROM MOTHER on Tarzana Ranch Letterhead
Edgar Rice Burroughs
Van Nuys   California
Telephone Van Nuys 100

I am sending Harry's letters as they will give you a better idea of conditions than anything I could write.

Letterhead: National Life Insurance Company ~ 29 South La Salle Street ~ Chicago
Mar 21 1920
My Dear Mother.

Dr. Baxter was here again yesterday and among other things told us to keep Baby out of doors as much as possible, the weather having moderated considerably. Her long spell of sleeplessness and refusal to take sufficient food, was broken by 17 hours sleep at one stretch Saturday night, interrupted only for her night feeding and taking the full eight oz. of milk this morning.

Today Evie and I had her out 3 1/2 hours, one hour and forty minutes of which she slept. We returned at 4 P.M. when she ate with apparent relish some meat and vegetable soup and a fair sized saucer of apricot pulp, finishing up (in her Cariole) with almost all her bottle of milk.  At 6.45 she went to sleep and is sleeping soundly now, 9 o'clock, so I am quite confident she will see marked improvement in t he morning.  I was glad to be at Louie when Dr. Baxter came yesterday afternoon. Was most favorably impressed.

Our opinion was confirmed yesterday morning in a conversation I had with Mr. Johnson. When I told him of Baby's illness he immediately asked what physician we had. When I told him he said, "You have the best on the North Side."  Dr. Baxter tells us there is no cause for worry; but we worry nevertheless. I presume, if we had had as much experience with babies as he has we wouldn't even think of worrying.

Her loss of weight (eighteen ounces last week), her listlessness, and apathy; approaching at times a semi comatose condition, have given us much concern. You will realize the change in her when I tell you she has not smiled in over a week; her interest cannot be aroused by her toys or by any of the stunts I used to do to amuse her. She simply turns her head away.  She is no longer interested in my arrival at night and refuses to let me carry her. She wants Nellie (wife Ella) to hold her and no one else; and lies with her eyes closed most of the time.

There is one encouraging factor -- she has had no fever to amount to anything. The highest has been 99 3/5. Following Dr. Baxter's instructions I bought a clinical thermometer as he wishes her temperature taken 3 times daily and a record kept. I presume this, as much as anything, guides him in his assertion that Baby's condition is not serious. Right here I want to apologize for the fact that we have not written more frequently since you left. The Baby's birthday celebration followed by this illness used up all the time between sleep and sleep. As Baby wouldn't let me carry her, I have tried to be helpful in other ways, and usually it would be eleven o'clock, and no letters written, before the household was ready to settle down. Will try and do better from now on.
It is always easier to find time when there is something cheerful to write anyway. Nellie is a marvel! She thrives without sleep, without rest and would, I verily believe, gain in weight and be cheerful and happy if, in addition, she went without food.

 Your dandy letter about Studley was most welcome. In the same mail we received one from him equally cheerful a nd together they served to brighten a rather melancholy household. Nellie learned today from Joe Neaba, that Mrs. Mikleman, Louise and Edith's mother, died suddenly of heart failure last night. Evelyn and Jack Tosh have gone out somewhere this evening -- nothing serious you understand, as the man said who shot himself in the mouth and couldn't find the bullet.

Have been trying to think of something cheerful to wind up with, but as the sad news about Mrs. Mikleman is the only result of my efforts. I might as well say good night. I don't believe there is anything cheerful in the world anyway, or if there is I don't expect to find it until little Mary is her sunshiny self again. 

Good night, Mother dear, with a world of love to you and to all the other dear ones at Tarzana,
P.S. Nellie's (wife Ella) mental condition, due to loss of sleep, is clearly indicated by the fact that she just asked me how to spell John.

Letterhead: National Life Insurance Company ~ 29 South La Salle Street ~ Chicago

March 23 1920
My Dear Mother:

Baby developed alarming symptoms Monday, yesterday morning, going into convulsions. Dr. Baxter immediately made two tests and the others for spinal meningitis.  If his clinical diagnosis of tubercular spinal meningitis is correct, there is no hope for our little baby, as there is no known cure for this malady. The tubercular test, unfortunately has proved positive and we are breathlessly awaiting the result of the other.

This morning he drew a test tube of fluid from her spinal column, which I immediately took over to the Univ. of Ill. Medical School and left to be tested. We may know the result this evening. Whatever it is I am going to ask to have Dr. Abt call in consultation. We will then have the two leading Child Specialists of Chicago, doing their utmost. Dr. Abt is the one who has attended Carl Meyers children and pulled Rosa Mayers little girl through when hope had been practically given up. 

 Am going to send Studley a night letter tonight to prepare him for the awful eventuality which seems so imminent.

We are hoping and praying that the clouds may lift and our little darling be spared to brighten all our lives.  She has not recognized any of us since Sunday. By dint of patience Nellie has managed to get her to take nourishment, although invariably she pushes the bottle or spoon away first, and much coaxing is required. Last night we took turns sitting up with her as we cannot leave her alone a minute on account of the irregular recurrence of the convulsions. These are not, to my mind, sever ones. There is a constriction of the muscles of the throat, an unnaturally wide opening of the eyes, and markings appear on the face and neck and the little hands tremble and turn purple. They do not last long and then there is no tendency to bend the head backward or the legs, as I have always understood was customary in spinal meningitis.
    She sleeps a great deal and her temperature , while over 101 yesterday, is now 100 degrees. Nellie tells me she just took several ounces of milk from her bottle, naturally although yesterday it was necessary to feed her with a spoon. We are hanging on every tiny favorable symptom for it doesn't seem possible that this awful nightmare can be reality.  Rest assured, Mother dear, everything possible has been and will be done. I know I have the very best medical talent, and you know what painstaking care will be given her day and night, between the doctors' visits.

Dr. Baxter assured Nellie this morning that, whether the laboratory test proved positive or not, they would not relax their efforts in fighting to save her. There is nothing to add now. I may be able to insert the result of the meningitis test before mailing this. Our hearts are like lead and we seem to be moving in a dream. 

Your good letter came to-day and its note of flowers and sunshine was like music from another world, totally outside our own dark one.
        With love and hope

A Somber Footnote:
The child, Mary Burroughs died on March 31 ~ age 1 year, 3 days.
The child's father, Harry's son, Studley, who had lost his wife in childbirth went into severe depression and had problems with alcohol for much of his life. 
Harry's mother, Mary Evaline Burroughs died at son Edgar's Tarzana Ranch on April 5, 1920.
Some of her final letters -- written on March 12 and March 27, 1920 are featured in ERBzin-e 932 at:

Following this traumatic experience Studley was hired by Chicago's Thomas Cusack Company -- a company that later became the General Outdoor Advertising Company.  While here he illustrated ads for McDonald Shirts, America's Cup Coffee and Poll-Parrot Shoes.
In 1929, ERB, unhappy with the work of artist Rex Maxon in the newspaper Tarzan comic strips, corresponded with Studley to seek his opinion. Studley supplied Ed with detailed criticisms which he forwarded to the Metropolitan Syndicate as an aid to the improvement of the current cartoons.

On February 19, 1931 Studley offered to illustrate his uncle Ed's books for the newly formed publishing company, ERB Inc.  ERB's first choice was his favourite artist J. Allen St. John, but St. John's rates were too high for this fledgling publishing company to meet in the lean depression years. The less experienced Studley agreed to his uncle's rates: $150 for a book jacket, $175 for a wrap-around jacket, and $75 for a frontispiece.

Ed's decision to hire his nephew was somewhat of a risky decision. The trauma experienced by Studley in the death of his wife followed by the loss of his infant daughter had left him in a shattered emotional state from which he never fully recovered. A second marriage, leading to the birth of two daughters, June and Beverly, had produced even further personal problems. Added to this were his struggles to achieve a permanent success as a commercial artist. To aid his nephew financially, Ed, in 1930, had given Studley several advances on illustrations to be done in the future. Studley's emotional instability had caused him to seek support through an over dependence upon alcohol. As a result of all these problems, the possibility of Studley doing creative work on the tight schedule that Ed demanded was in question.

Studley's early sketches for the first book, finally titled Tarzan the Invincible (originally Tarzan and the Man Things - Tarzan, Guard of the Jungle) received Burroughs' approval. In letters to Studley and other illustrators ERB dictated his requirements to a most meticulous degree  and his explicit and detailed "suggestions" could hardly fail to be disconcerting and frightening to the artists. Studley, already worried and insecure, found himself receiving these precise, lengthy outlines and explanations detailing the action, the costume, and the weapons of the character chosen by Burroughs for illustration, plus many requests for additional research to attain authenticity. Practically nothing was left to the artist's initiative or originality.

Tarzan the Invicible cover art by Studley O. Burroughs

Ed had cautioned Studley that the illustrations must be finished before August 1, but with the deadline past and no material received, Ed sent an appeal to brother Harry in Chicago. The report was that Studley had taken an assignment for General Motors and Sunkist Oranges, and could find no time to complete the work. On August 10, Studley was instructed to send the incomplete drawings immediately -- only two, jacket and frontispiece, were available. Ed's plans were to have these finished by a Los Angeles artist. The drawings finally arrived, and there were hints that Studley had faced some type of a crisis; Ed had noted, "Glad to know you are out of the woods...try to forget it." Studley was urged to start work on the next book, Jungle Girl. Ed, trying to limit his requirements, did not insist that the jacket illustrate any particular story incident, and promised "plenty of latitude." He wanted a book cover that was startling, and explained, "It can be bizarre, it can be anything that willl not offend public decency, just so it attracts attention, short of being ridiculous."

Studley O. Burroughs interior illustration

Sometime in this period, Studley also drew the famous ERB-invented "doodad" -- the logo which appeared on the spine or covers of most of the ERB Inc. editions. The first appearance of this trademark colophon was on April 15, 1932 on the spine of the second published ERB, Inc. book: Jungle Girl. At that time Ed referred to the hieroglyph as "that mysterious Burroughs trademark" indicating that he was looking forward to the curiosity that this unusual figure would arouse among readers.

The next novel brought even more problems. Ed was experiencing financial problems brought on by the Depression, and having sent numerous cash advances to Studley without receiving either product or a response from him, was forced to write a letter to Harry on February 29, 1932. He explained that he was going to have to limit his cash outlay and that plans for future illustrations from Studley appeared uncertain. He wanted to know if Studley was serious about carrying on with the project. He had notified his nephew that the next book would be Tarzan Triumphant and that the illustrations would have to be done to his dictated requirements. He gave diplomatic praise for the artwork for Jungle Girl but it was plainly evident that he wasn't really satisfied with the product. He asked that Studley "use a little different type of feminine pulchritude from that of  Jungle Girl," and wrote, "I should like to have a little more character in the face and less doll-like beauty..." He also wanted Tarzan's costume to be changed from a leopard skin to "simple loin cloth or G-string," and added, "The less Tarzan has on the more he will be in character."

Realizing that the latitude he had given Studley on the previous project had not achieved satisfactory results, Ed sent a letter on March 9 containing fully detailed instructions for the dust jacket, the lettering and the four interiour illustrations:

Illustration #1: "Lion rearing and burying teeth in face of askiri -- three-quarter view from rear of lion; beyond lion and victim, the Gunner is seen coming from tent with sub-machine gun in hands." Caption: "A scream of terror burst form the lips of the doomed man." Note: If you think better to omit the Gunner as detractingattention from the principal figures, do so. However, if you show the Gunner, please show him as a black haired young man weighing about 180 pounds. He should be good looking in a sinister way. Remember that he is a tough egg and a killer; Yet a character with human appeal that I have tried to make likeable throughout the story. As this scene is transpiring at night, he need not wear a hat, but he should have on a short sleeved shirt, open at the throat, hiking breeches and field boots. This will help to differentiate him from Smith, who wears shorts. The question of the costume for the askari is one rather difficult to handle. These askaries, being the armed guards of the safaris, are often pictured in military uniform. That I do not wish in this instance. I think that you can obtain the desired result by showing this Negro in a cotton shirt falling almost to the knees and with two bandoleers of cartridges passing over his shoulders and crossing at his breast, or. . .  with merely a bandoleer of cartridgres around his waist."

Illustration #2: "Tarzan lifting a shifta above his head to hurl him at other shiftas pressing close." Caption: "A white giant who fought with his bare hands." Note: "The shiftas in this and other illustrations should be costumed after the Abyssinian manner. Also, please see if you can get the Abyssinian saddle and horse trappings more or less correct. If you will refer to the June 1925 issue of National Geographic Magazine you will find all the horse trappings you need. And by referring to Page 122 of the book Savage Abyssinia by James E. Braun, you will notice illustrations orf shiftas and their costumes."

Sheeta plunged to the earth dead, slain by the spear.A scream of terror burst from the lips of the doomed man.Then Smith firedWith a scream, the fellow rolled from his saddle.
As the depression worsened and the book sales slumped, payments to Studley slowed and he was even asked to lower his prices for the next scheduled novel, Tarzan Triumphant.  As a backup, ERB sent letters to St. John and Harold Foster, inquiring about their current rates. On March 16, 1932, Ed loyally accepted his nephew's bid of $325 over St. Johns lower price. Upon receipt of the finished jacket of Tarzan Triumphant he voiced his disappointment about "the physique of the model," writing, "He is too prissy and has a belly on him almost as large as mine... let these heroic characters of mine cave in a little below the ribs rather than stick out. Tarzan Triumphant looks as though he might be several months along toward an increase in his family...."

Instructions for future illustrations continued to present precise requrements.  For the next novel, Apache Devil,  Ed's suggestions for research and details of action and costume left little to Studley's imagination. The emotionally unstable Studley buckled under the stress and returned to drinking and he missed the completion deadlines for his assignments. The delay in receiving these illustrations forced Ed to start contacting other artists, including St. John. He offered his nephew still one more chance, however, and laid down a strict ultimatum for his work on the next novel, Tarzan and the City of Gold. Studley's preliminary sketches arrived in November 1932 and Ed sent a $100 advance. But when the January 1, 1933 deadline was missed, Ed turned the assignment over to St. John. Studley's finished sketches eventually arrive but rejected as being inferior to the work done by St. John. In a letter to St. John Ed wrote, "I am delighted with the Tarzan cover and illustrations. . . . I am sure that my readers are going to be glad to see you back again."

I get her! Standing in his stirrups, he swung his rope Again Gian-nah-tah flourished the red blanket How would you like to go home, Nejeunee? On stationary wings above the last victim of the Apache Devil
Sadly, this was the end of Studley's association with ERB, Inc. Although his work was not as exciting and polished as St. John's his work was generally quite appealing -- quite a feat considering the restrictions that were put on his work and personal problems he was going through at the time. In fact his work came to the attention of Frank Cash, whose advertising and public relations company produced the Mountie advertising campaign for the Northwest Paper Company. This led to another major contract for which he did quite admirable work. Samples of this work are featured in the 2003 book by Karal Ann Marlilng, Looking North: Royal Canadian Mounted Police Illustrations: Potlatch Collection.
Apparently his various problems over the years did not interfere greatly with his relationshp with his family. Robert Barrett in Erbania #72/73 quoted daughter Beverly Burroughs English as having fond memories of her father: "...he was a wonderful father: kind, loving, and hilariously funny -- fun to be with. He had a seriously trained tenor-baritone voice and often sang for the enjoyment of his family. He told us stories and read to us. And he tried to teach us how to play golf, but his effort was unsuccessful. We never lacked for enthusiasm and night after night he took us to the driving range where he exercised the patience of Job! He did have a drinking problem but it never interfered with his work and he was able to conquer it. It was the timing that was bad. . .  it came at a crucial period in his life and career and at the time of a deepening depression.  After divorcing my mother, Alice (who passed away in August, 1989) Studley married Marie English (no relation to my husband Tom) in 1935. She, God Bless her, gave him the love and support he needed to overcome his problems.

"By 1936 Studley was totally recovered and never drank again. He renewed old acquaintances, did beautiful work, bought a home in Glen Eleyn, Illinois, and was a successful man in every sense of the word when I saw him for the last time. This was at my wedding in our home in August of 1948."

Studley's ties with his uncle remained strong. After The Saturday Evening Post did a feature article on Edgar Rice Burroughs in the July 29, 1939 issue ( ERBzin-e 527 and ERBzin-e 528 ), he did a very clever cartoon as a humorous tribute to the event. He also drew and sent out personalized Christmas cards to family and friends each year, such as the one pictured here from the Danton Burroughs Family Archive.
On December 23, 1949, Studley Burroughs died of an embolism at age 57 following an operation for hiatus hernia. His uncle Ed, suffering from serious heart problems and Parkinson's Disease, was not told the bad news.  In all, Studley had illustrated four Burroughs novels: Tarzan the Invincible,Jungle Girl, Tarzan Triumphant, and Apache Devil (1931-1933).

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References: Porges, Erbania #77/78 and
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