Tarzan Books in Order, Edgar Rice Burroughs’ adventure novels

Tarzan is a heroic adventurer created by American writer Edgar Rice Burroughs and one of the best-known literary characters in the world.

Reading the adventures of John Clayton, Lord Greystoke

Edgar Rice Burroughs has written 24 adventure novels featuring Lord Greystoke, published between 1912 and 1966. It was followed by several related books co-written by Burroughs or officially authorized by his estate. Burroughs also wrote two children’s stories that are generally excluded from the main list but have some connection with one of the books.

A little warning! The Tarzan books have been criticized for their racist and sexist moments. While it is mostly regonized as simply being a product of its time, it is important to acknowledge it for the readers to be aware and choose or not to dive into this reading adventure!

The Tarzan Main Series in Publication Order

The following listing is considered the official canon. Most of the Tarzan books have been written in order, the exception being the Jungle Tales of Tarzan. This is a collection of short stories set during Tarzan’s late teenage years.

We can also notice that Tarzan the Magnificent was written before Tarzan and the Forbidden City, but has been published after.

Finally, the first eleven novels are right now in the public domain and can be downloaded for free!

Tarzan of the Apes (1912)
The Return of Tarzan (1913)
The Beasts of Tarzan (1914)
The Son of Tarzan (1915–1916)
Tarzan and the Jewels of Opar (1916)
Jungle Tales of Tarzan (1916–1917) – a collection of short stories
Tarzan the Untamed (1919–1920)
Tarzan the Terrible (1921)
Tarzan and the Golden Lion (1922–1923)
Tarzan and the Ant Men (1924)
Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle (1927–1928)
Tarzan and the Lost Empire (1928–1929)
Tarzan at the Earth’s Core (1929–1930) – Also part of the Pellucidar series.
Tarzan the Invincible (1930–1931)
Tarzan Triumphant (1931–1932)
Tarzan and the City of Gold (1932)
Tarzan and the Lion Man (1933–1934)
Tarzan and the Leopard Men (1932–1933)
Tarzan’s Quest (1935–1936)
Tarzan and the Forbidden City (1938)
Tarzan the Magnificent (1936–1938)
Tarzan and the Foreign Legion (1947)
Tarzan and the Madman (1964)
Tarzan and the Castaways (1965) – a collection of short stories

Tarzan the Untamed. Illustration by James Allen St. John (Page 18)

Tarzan Related Works

Following are a short list of work related to Tarzan written or co-written by Burroughs but not part of the official main canon.

The Eternal Lover (1914-1915)

Edgar Rice Burroughs wrote four novellas featuring the Custer sibling in 1914-1915. They have been collected into two novels, The Eternal Lover, previously called The Eternal Savage, and The Mad King. As Tarzan is a minor character in the first book and the story is set in the Greystoke estate, Tarzan readers could be interested in discovering the book.

Tarzan and the Tarzan Twins (1927/1936)

This is a collection of two novellas that Burroughs specifically wrote for younger readers – The Tarzan Twins (1927) and Tarzan and the Tarzan Twins, with Jad-bal-ja, the Golden Lion (1936). Because the target children, they are not included in the main canon, though the family present in those stories appear in Tarzan and the Lost Empire (1929).

Tarzan: The Lost Adventures (1995)

This Tarzan novel is based on a incomplete manuscript from Burroughs. In the mid-1990s, the Burroughs estate and Dark Horse Comics chose Joe R. Lansdale to rework and finish the novel, which was published as a co-authored work in 1995.

Beyond Edgar Rice Burroughs: Tarzan by Other Writers

If you want to read more Tarzan Adventures, many books both authorized and unauthorized have been written since the conclusion of the series.

Writer Fritz Leiber wrote Tarzan and the Valley of Gold (1966), the first novel authorized by the Burroughs estate, and considered as such as the 25th book in the Tarzan series.

Philip José Farmer produced several books, such as the fictional biography of Tarzan, Tarzan Alive (1972), and the authorized The Dark Heart of Time (1999), officially set between Tarzan the Untamedand Tarzan the Terrible.

Farmer also wrote The Adventure of the Peerless Peer, a crossover story between Tarzan and Sherlock Holmes!

More books have since been published as part of what is called the Wild Adventures of Edgar Rice Burroughs series. Those are authorized works that expand upon Burroughs’ classic tales. This series is not limited to canon and also explores alternate universes.

Novels such as Will Murray’s Tarzan: Return to Pal-ul-don (2015), Michael A. Sanford’s Tarzan on the Precipice (2016) are part of the main timeline and have an official placement.

King Kong vs. Tarzan (2016), Tarzan: Conqueror of Mars (2020) and Tarzan: Back to Mars (2023), all by Will Murray, are crossover adventures with other iconic figures of pop culture (including, of course, John Carter of Mars, another creation of Burroughs!)

Also part of the Wild Adventures series are Tarzan: The Greystoke Legacy Under Siege (2017) by Ralph N. Laughlin and Ann E. Johnson, Tarzan Trilogy (2016) and Tarzan and the Revolution (2018) by Thomas Zachek.

Tarzan and the Dark Heart of Time, Tarzan and the Valley of Gold have also been republished as part of Edgar Rice Burroughs Universe Series that also includes Tarzan: Battle For Pellucidar (2020) by Win Scott Eckert and Tarzan and the Forest of Stone (2022) by Jeffrey J. Mariotte.

Tarzan and the Jewels of Opar. Illustration by James Allen St. John (Page 167)

A Note about the Chronology of Tarzan

If you are interested in exploring the adventures of Tarzan beyond the work of Edgar Rice Burroughs and decided to read them in chronological order, chances are you will go down a rabbit hole that you ignored the existence before!

This is a subject that several people have written about, from Philip José Farmer in Tarzan Alive to Alan Hanson in Chrono-Log and Henning Kure in Edgar Rice Burroughs News Dateline, #49/50. 

You can also find a chronology of the shared worlds of Edgar Rice Burrough’s creation compiled by Win Scott Eckert while lifelong fan James Michael Moody has a blog dedicated to the subject. A few years ago, journalist John Allen Small gave his chronology on his blog

Does the Tarzan books need to be read in order?

Though each Tarzan book often features a standalone adventure, reading the series in order is still recommended. The first book, “Tarzan of the Apes,” establishes Tarzan’s origin story, making it a solid starting point. The following two books—”The Return of Tarzan” and “The Beasts of Tarzan”—continue the story, forming a kind of trilogy and making it better to read these first three books in sequence.

After the first three books, the series becomes more loosely connected. However, some of the later books feature recurring characters or story arcs, so following them in order can help you catch all the details and connections.

Alexander Skarsgård in 2016′ Legend of Tarzan

More about John Clayton, Lord Greystoke

Who is Tarzan?

Tarzan, born John Clayton, is the son of English aristocrats. After being orphaned as a baby in the African jungle, he was raised by an ape tribe, where he developed primal instincts and extraordinary agility. Although he discovers his aristocratic background as he grows older, he remains loyal to his jungle origins, where he feels most at home. He eventually falls in love with Jane Porter, who becomes his wife. Together, they have a son.

Tarzan is a well-spoken, educated man who taught himself to read and write in his parents’ abandoned home. Despite being a fierce fighter, he is driven by a strong sense of justice and morality, and he constantly saves the jungle and its inhabitants from various threats. arzan is a well-spoken, educated man who taught himself to read and write in his parents’ abandoned home. Despite being a fierce fighter, he is driven by a strong sense of justice and morality, and he constantly saves the jungle and its inhabitants from various threats.

The Tarzan Legend

Maybe you’ve heard the old tale about a 19th-century English nobleman named William Charles Mildin, the 14th Earl of Streatham, who supposedly ran away from home and ended up living among real apes in Africa. This story, first mentioned in the 1959 article “The Man Who Really Was . . . Tarzan” by Thomas Llewellyn Jones, is often presented as the origin for Edgar Rice Burroughs’ iconic character, Tarzan. The reality is that this is just an urban legend. The article itself was an a hoax and William Charles Mildin has never existed.

Tracy Griffin, writer of “Tarzan: The Centennial Celebration,” describes Burroughs as a man who was always “canny about his inspirations” and had a solid education, having studied Greek and Latin. Burroughs frequently cited the tale of Romulus and Remus as an inspiration for Tarzan.

It’s also very likely that he took inspiration for the early survival story of the Claytons from books like “Robinson Crusoe” and “Swiss Family Robinson”. Also, “Peter Pan” might have inspired Burroughs on how kids could grow up when left on their own in the wilderness.

Tarzan in film and television

Tarzan has been adapted into numerous forms of media, including films, television, radio, stage plays, and even video games.

With over 50 films, the adventures of Tarzan span many eras, from the early silent movies to the thirties and forties with the classic portrayal of Johnny Weissmuller, who starred in 12 Tarzan films, to more recent big-screen adaptation such as “The Legend of Tarzan” starring Alexander Skarsgård in 2016. Let’s not forget Disney’s animated “Tarzan” and its iconic soundtrack, who introduced the character to a new generation.

On television, there have been multiple series, including the well-known 1960s show starring Ron Ely, and later adaptations that bring the jungle legend to new audiences. Joe Lara, Wolf Larson and Travis Fimmel are among the actors who played the part on the small screen.

For more adventures, you can read H. Rider Haggard’s Allan Quatermain series.