Edgar Rice Burroughs

Edgar Rice Burroughs (September 1, 1875 – March 19, 1950) was an American fiction writer best known for his celebrated and prolific output in the adventure and science-fiction genres. Among the most notable of his creations are the jungle hero Tarzan, the heroic Mars adventurer John Carter and the fictional landmass within Earth known as Pellucidar. Burroughs' California ranch is now the center of the Tarzana neighborhood in Los Angeles.

Edgar Rice Burroughs
Edgar Rice Burroughs
BornSeptember 1, 1875
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
DiedMarch 19, 1950 (aged 74)
Encino, California, U.S.
Resting placeTarzana, California, U.S.
GenreAdventure novel, fantasy, lost world, sword and planet, planetary romance, soft science fiction, Western
Notable works

Edgar Rice Burroughs signature


Early life and family

Burroughs was born on September 1, 1875, in Chicago, Illinois (he later lived for many years in the suburb of Oak Park), the fourth son of Major George Tyler Burroughs (1833–1913), a businessman and Civil War veteran, and his wife, Mary Evaline (Zieger) Burroughs (1840–1920). His middle name is from his paternal grandmother, Mary Coleman Rice Burroughs (1802-1889).[1][2][3] He was of almost entirely English ancestry, with a family line that had been in North America since the Colonial era.[4]

Through his Rice grandmother, Burroughs was descended from settler Edmund Rice, one of the English Puritans who moved to Massachusetts Bay Colony in the early 17th Century. He once remarked, "I can trace my ancestry back to Deacon Edmund Rice." The Burroughs side of the family was also of English origin and also emigrated to Massachusetts around the same time. Many of his ancestors fought in the American Revolution. Some of his ancestors settled in Virginia during the colonial period, and Burroughs often emphasized his connection with that side of his family, seeing it as romantic and warlike,[5][3] and, in fact, could have counted among his close cousins no less than seven signers of the U.S. Declaration of Independence, including his third cousin, four times removed, 2nd President of the United States John Adams.[6]

Burroughs was educated at a number of local schools. He then attended Phillips Academy, in Andover, Massachusetts, and then the Michigan Military Academy. Graduating in 1895, and failing the entrance exam for the United States Military Academy at West Point, he became an enlisted soldier with the 7th U.S. Cavalry in Fort Grant, Arizona Territory. After being diagnosed with a heart problem and thus ineligible to serve, he was discharged in 1897.[7]

Bookplate of Edgar Rice Burroughs
Burroughs's bookplate, showing Tarzan holding the planet Mars, surrounded by other characters from his stories and symbols relating to his personal interests and career
Letter from Edgar Rice Burroughs to Ruthven Deane 1922
Typescript letter, with Tarzana Ranch letterhead, from Burroughs to Ruthven Deane, explaining the design and significance of his bookplate

After his discharge Burroughs worked a number of different jobs. During the Chicago influenza epidemic of 1891, he spent half a year at his brother's ranch on the Raft River in Idaho, as a cowboy, drifted somewhat afterward, then worked at his father's Chicago battery factory in 1899, marrying his childhood sweetheart, Emma Hulbert (1876–1944), in January 1900.

In 1903, Burroughs joined his brothers, Yale graduates George and Harry, who were, by then, prominent Pocatello area ranchers in southern Idaho, and partners in the Sweetser-Burroughs Mining Company, where he took on managing their ill-fated Snake River gold dredge, a classic bucket-line dredge. The Burroughs brothers were also the sixth cousins, once removed, of famed miner Kate Rice, a brilliant and statuesque Maths professor who, in 1914, became the first female prospector in the Canadian North. Journalist and publisher C. Allen Thorndike Rice was also his third cousin.[8]

When the new mine proved unsuccessful, the brothers secured for Burroughs a position with the Oregon Short Line Railroad in Salt Lake City.[9] Burroughs resigned from the railroad in October 1904.[10]


By 1911, after seven years of low wages as a pencil-sharpener wholesaler; Burroughs began to write fiction. By this time, Emma and he had two children, Joan (1908–1972), and Hulbert (1909–1991).[11] During this period, he had copious spare time and began reading pulp-fiction magazines. In 1929, he recalled thinking that

...if people were paid for writing rot such as I read in some of those magazines, that I could write stories just as rotten. As a matter of fact, although I had never written a story, I knew absolutely that I could write stories just as entertaining and probably a whole lot more so than any I chanced to read in those magazines.[12]

In 1913, Burroughs and Emma had their third and last child, John Coleman Burroughs (1913–1979), later known for his illustrations of his father's books.

In the 1920s, Burroughs became a pilot, purchased a Security Airster S-1, and encouraged his family to learn to fly.[13][14]

Daughter Joan married Tarzan film actor, James Pierce, starring with her husband, as the voice of Jane, during 1932-34 for the Tarzan radio series. The pair were wed for more than forty years, until her death, in 1972.

Burroughs divorced Emma in 1934 and, in 1935, married the former actress Florence Gilbert Dearholt, who was the former wife of his friend (who was then remarrying himself), Ashton Dearholt, with whom he had co-founded Burroughs-Tarzan Enterprises while filming The New Adventures of Tarzan. Burroughs adopted the Dearholts' two children. He and Florence divorced in 1942.[15]

Burroughs was in his late 60s and was in Honolulu at the time of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.[16] Despite his age, he applied for and received permission to become a war correspondent, becoming one of the oldest U.S. war correspondents during World War II. This period of his life is mentioned in William Brinkley's bestselling novel Don't Go Near the Water.


After the war ended, Burroughs moved back to Encino, California, where after many health problems, he died of a heart attack on March 19, 1950, having written almost 80 novels. He is buried at Tarzana, California, US.[17]

When he died, he was believed to have been the writer who had made the most from films, earning over $2 million in royalties from 27 Tarzan pictures.[18]

The Science Fiction Hall of Fame inducted Burroughs in 2003.[19][20]

Literary career

Aiming his work at the pulps, Burroughs had his first story, Under the Moons of Mars, serialized by Frank Munsey in the February to July 1912 issues of The All-Story[21][22][23] – under the name "Norman Bean" to protect his reputation.[23][a] Under the Moons of Mars inaugurated the Barsoom series and earned Burroughs US$400 ($10,385 today). It was first published as a book by A. C. McClurg of Chicago in 1917, entitled A Princess of Mars, after three Barsoom sequels had appeared as serials and McClurg had published the first four serial Tarzan novels as books.[21]

Burroughs soon took up writing full-time, and by the time the run of Under the Moons of Mars had finished, he had completed two novels, including Tarzan of the Apes, published from October 1912 and one of his most successful series.

Burroughs also wrote popular science fiction and fantasy stories involving adventurers from Earth transported to various planets (notably Barsoom, Burroughs's fictional name for Mars, and Amtor, his fictional name for Venus), lost islands, and into the interior of the hollow earth in his Pellucidar stories. He also wrote Westerns and historical romances. Besides those published in All-Story, many of his stories were published in The Argosy magazine.

Tarzan was a cultural sensation when introduced. Burroughs was determined to capitalize on Tarzan's popularity in every way possible. He planned to exploit Tarzan through several different media including a syndicated Tarzan comic strip, movies, and merchandise. Experts in the field advised against this course of action, stating that the different media would just end up competing against each other. Burroughs went ahead, however, and proved the experts wrong – the public wanted Tarzan in whatever fashion he was offered. Tarzan remains one of the most successful fictional characters to this day and is a cultural icon.

In either 1915 or 1919, Burroughs purchased a large ranch north of Los Angeles, California, which he named "Tarzana". The citizens of the community that sprang up around the ranch voted to adopt that name when their community, Tarzana, California, was formed in 1927.[24] Also, the unincorporated community of Tarzan, Texas, was formally named in 1927 when the US Postal Service accepted the name,[25] reputedly coming from the popularity of the first (silent) Tarzan of the Apes film, starring Elmo Lincoln, and an early "Tarzan" comic strip.

In 1923, Burroughs set up his own company, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc., and began printing his own books through the 1930s.

Reception and criticism

Burroughs so influenced real exploration of Mars that an impact crater was named after him.[26] In a Paris Review interview, Ray Bradbury said of Burroughs that "Edgar Rice Burroughs never would have looked upon himself as a social mover and shaker with social obligations. But as it turns out – and I love to say it because it upsets everyone terribly – Burroughs is probably the most influential writer in the entire history of the world."[27] Bradbury continued that "By giving romance and adventure to a whole generation of boys, Burroughs caused them to go out and decide to become special."

In Something of Myself (published posthumously in 1937) Rudyard Kipling wrote: “My Jungle Books begat Zoos of them. But the genius of all the genii was one who wrote a series called Tarzan of the Apes. I read it, but regret I never saw it on the films, where it rages most successfully. He had ‘jazzed’ the motif of the Jungle Books and, I imagine, had thoroughly enjoyed himself. He was reported to have said that he wanted to find out how bad a book he could write and ‘get away with’, which is a legitimate ambition.” (Ch. 8, “Working Tools”).

By 1963, Floyd C. Gale of Galaxy Science Fiction wrote when discussing reprints of several Burroughs novels by Ace Books, "an entire generation has grown up inexplicably Burroughs-less". He stated that most of the author's books had been out of print for years and that only the "occasional laughable Tarzan film" reminded public of his fiction.[28] Gale reported his surprise that after two decades his books were again available, with Canaveral Press, Dover Publications, and Ballantine Books also reprinting them.[29]

Few critical books have arisen concerning Burroughs. From an academic standpoint, the most helpful are Erling Holtsmark's two books: Tarzan and Tradition[30] and Edgar Rice Burroughs;[31] Stan Galloway's The Teenage Tarzan: A Literary Analysis of Edgar Rice Burroughs' Jungle Tales of Tarzan;[32] and Richard Lupoff's two books: Master of Adventure: Edgar Rice Burroughs[33] and Barsoom: Edgar Rice Burroughs and the Martian Vision.[34] Galloway was identified by James Gunn as "one of the half-dozen finest Burroughs scholars in the world";[35] Galloway called Holtsmark his "most important predecessor."[36]

Selected works

Barsoom series

Tarzan series

Pellucidar series

Venus series

Caspak series

Moon series

  • The Moon Maid (1923, revised 1925; The Moon Men)
    • Part I: The Moon Maid
    • Part II: The Moon Men
    • Part III: The Red Hawk

These three texts have been published by various houses in one or two volumes. Adding to the confusion, some editions have the original (significantly longer) introduction to Part I from the first publication as a magazine serial, and others have the shorter version from the first book publication, which included all three parts under the title The Moon Maid.[37]

Mucker series

Other science fiction

Jungle adventure novels

Western novels

Historical novels

Other works

Books on Edgar Rice Burroughs

  • Master of Adventure: The Worlds of Edgar Rice Burroughs by Richard A. Lupoff
  • Tarzan Forever: The Life of Edgar Rice Burroughs, Creator of Tarzan by John Taliaferro
  • Golden Anniversary Bibliography of Edgar Rice Burroughs by the Rev. Henry Hardy Heins
  • Tarzan Alive by Philip Jose Farmer
  • Burroughs's Science Fiction by Robert R. Kudlay and Joan Leiby
  • Tarzan and Tradition and Edgar Rice Burroughs by Erling B. Holtsmark
  • Edgar Rice Burroughs by Irwin Porges
  • Edgar Rice Burroughs by Robert B. Zeuschner
  • The Burroughs Cyclopædia ed. by Clark A. Brady
  • A Guide to Barsoom by John Flint Roy
  • Tarzan: the Centennial Celebration by Scott Tracy Griffin
  • Edgar Rice Burroughs: The Descriptive Bibliography of the Grosset & Dunlap Reprints by B. J. Lukes

See also


  1. ^ A poem by Burroughs was published on October 15, 1910, in the Chicago Tribune as "by Normal Bean", and two more were published in the Tribune in 1914 and 1915.[21] "Norman" was an All-Story typesetter's presumptive correction of "Normal".[23] Burroughs used his own name for his other publications.[21]


  1. ^ Descendants of Edmund Rice: The First Nine Generations, Edmund Rice (1638) Association, 2010.
  2. ^ "Edmund Rice Six-Generation Database Online". Edmund Rice (1638) Association. Retrieved January 27, 2011.
  3. ^ a b Schneider, Jerry L (2004), The Ancestry of Edgar Rice Burroughs (Google Books), Erbville Press, p. 296, ISBN 978-1-4357-4972-6
  4. ^ http://globalfirstsandfacts.com/2017/08/16/edgar-rice-burroughs/
  5. ^ Taliaferro, John. Tarzan Forever: The Life of Edgar Rice Burroughs, Creator of Tarzan, pp. 15, 27.
  6. ^ "Famous Kin of Edgar Rice Burroughs". FamousKin.com. Retrieved October 19, 2017.
  7. ^ Slotkin, Richard (1998). Gunfighter Nation. University of Oklahoma Press. p. 196. ISBN 0-8061-3031-8.
  8. ^ Rice, Michael A. Edmund Rice (1638) Association, Inc.: "Meet Some of Edmund Rice’s Descendants: Notable Writers & Entertainers", page 11, Accessed October 11, 2017.
  9. ^ John, Finn J.D. Offbeat Oregon: "Ill-starred gold-mining venture worked out well for Tarzan fans", March 8, 2015, Accessed October 11, 2017.
  10. ^ Holtsmark 1986, pp. 34.
  11. ^ Holtsmark 1986, p. 5.
  12. ^ Burroughs, Edgar Rice (October 27, 1929). "How I Wrote the Tarzan Stories". Washington Post, New York World (Sunday supplement). ERBZine.com.
  13. ^ "A Plane-Crazy America". AOPA Pilot. May 2014.
  14. ^ "Joan Burroughs". Retrieved 14 February 2015.
  15. ^ Holtsmark 1986, pp. 12–13.
  16. ^ Toland, John (1970). The Rising Sun (2003 Modern Library Paperback ed.). Random House. p. 220. ISBN 0-8129-6858-1.
  17. ^ Holtsmark 1986, pp. 13–15.
  18. ^ "'Tarzan' Paid Off Big to Burroughs". Variety. March 22, 1950. p. 7. Retrieved April 2, 2018.
  19. ^ "Burroughs, Edgar Rice" Archived 2012-10-16 at the Wayback Machine. The Locus Index to SF Awards: Index of Literary Nominees. Locus Publications. Retrieved April 8, 2013.
  20. ^ Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame (official website of the hall of fame to 2004), Mid American Science Fiction and Fantasy Conventions, archived from the original on 2013-05-21, retrieved 2013-03-22.
  21. ^ a b c d Edgar Rice Burroughs at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database (ISFDB). Retrieved April 8, 2013. Select a title to see its linked publication history and general information. Select a particular edition (title) for more data at that level, such as a front cover image or linked contents.
  22. ^ "A Virtual Visit to the Nell Dismukes McWhorter Memorial Edgar Rice Burroughs Collection", ERBzine, 4 (19), with photographs.
  23. ^ a b c Robinson, Frank M, "The Story Behind the Original All-Story", American Zoetrope, 4 (1), retrieved April 8, 2013.
  24. ^ Tarzana Community Profile (PDF), US: NOAA, archived from the original (PDF) on February 4, 2012, retrieved July 4, 2012.
  25. ^ Holtsmark 1986, pp. 9–10.
  26. ^ Sagan, Carl (1978-05-28). "Growing up with Science Fiction". The New York Times. p. SM7. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-12-12.
  27. ^ Paris Review
  28. ^ Gale, Floyd C. (June 1963). "Galaxy's 5 Star Shelf". Galaxy Science Fiction. pp. 135–138.
  29. ^ Gale, Floyd C. (October 1963). "Galaxy's 5 Star Shelf". Galaxy Science Fiction. pp. 119–123.
  30. ^ Holtsmark, Erling B. Tarzan and Tradition: Classical Myth in Popular Literature. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1981.
  31. ^ Holtsmark, Erling B. Edgar Rice Burroughs. Twayne's United States Author Series. Boston: Twayne, 1986.
  32. ^ Galloway, Stan. The Teenage Tarzan: A Literary Analysis of Edgar Rice Burroughs' Jungle Tales of Tarzan. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2010.
  33. ^ Lupoff, Richard. Master of Adventure: Edgar Rice Burroughs. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2005.
  34. ^ Lupoff, Richard. Barsoom: Edgar Rice Burroughs and the Martian Vision. Baltimore: Mirage Press, 1976.
  35. ^ Gunn, James. Foreword. The Teenage Tarzan by Stan Galloway. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2010. p. 3.
  36. ^ Preface. p. 5.
  37. ^ ERBzine.


External links

Burroughs (crater)

Burroughs is a large crater on Mars at latitude 72.5S / longitude 243.1W, with a diameter of 104.0 kilometres (64.6 mi).

The crater is named after Edgar Rice Burroughs, the American science fiction novelist who wrote a series of fantasy novels set on the planet.

Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc.

Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc. is an American company founded in 1923 by author Edgar Rice Burroughs. It is based in Tarzana, California. The company holds the rights to the literary works of Burroughs that are still protected by copyright (a number of Burroughs' early works have passed out of copyright and consequently are in the public domain).

Burroughs was one of the first artists to incorporate, which he did for tax reasons and for more control over his works. Burroughs' books were published through the company from 1931 (Tarzan the Invincible) through 1948 (Llana of Gathol), with one additional title (I Am a Barbarian) appearing in 1967.

The company remains in the ownership of the Burroughs family and manages and licenses Burroughs' works and characters, including Tarzan and John Carter of Mars.

Escape on Venus

Escape on Venus is a science fantasy novel by American writer Edgar Rice Burroughs, the fourth book in the Venus series (Sometimes called the "Carson Napier of Venus series"). It consists of four interconnected stories published in Fantasic Adventures between 1941 and 1942: "Slaves of the Fish Men", "Goddess of Fire", "The Living Dead," and "War on Venus". A collected edition of these stories was published in 1946.

Opar (fictional city)

Opar is a fictional lost city in the Tarzan novels of Edgar Rice Burroughs and later the Khokarsa novels of Philip José Farmer and Christopher Paul Carey and various derivative works in other media. The city first appeared in the second Tarzan novel, The Return of Tarzan (1913).

Tarzan's Quest

Tarzan's Quest is a novel by American writer Edgar Rice Burroughs, the nineteenth in his series of books about the title character Tarzan. Originally serialized in six parts, as Tarzan and the Immortal Men, in The Blue Book Magazine, from October 1935 to March 1936; the first collected edition was published as the 1936 novel Tarzan’s Quest by Burroughs’ own publishing company.

Tarzan Triumphant

Tarzan Triumphant is a novel by American writer Edgar Rice Burroughs, the fifteenth in his series of books about the title character Tarzan. The novel was originally serialized in the magazine Blue Book from October, 1931 through March 1932. It should not be confused with the 1943 film Tarzan Triumphs, as the plots are not related.

Real-life Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin is used as a minor character in the novel, though he remains in Moscow and does not personally take part in the action.

Tarzan and the City of Gold

Tarzan and the City of Gold is a novel by American writer Edgar Rice Burroughs, the sixteenth in his series of books about the title character Tarzan. The novel was originally serialized in the magazine Argosy from March through April 1932.

Tarzan and the Forbidden City

Tarzan and the Forbidden City is a novel by American writer Edgar Rice Burroughs, the twentieth in his series of books about the title character Tarzan.

Tarzan and the Foreign Legion

Tarzan and the Foreign Legion is a novel by American writer Edgar Rice Burroughs, the twenty-second in his series of books about the title character Tarzan. The book, written June–September 1944 while Burroughs was living in Honolulu and published in 1947, was the last new work by Burroughs to be published during his life (Llana of Gathol, the tenth book in the Barsoom series, was published in 1948, but it was a collection of four stories originally published in Amazing Stories in 1941). The novel is set during World War II. The term "foreign legion" does not refer to the French Foreign Legion, but is the name given in the book to a small international force (including Tarzan) fighting the Japanese.

The book was offered to Argosy magazine, in 1945, for serial publication, as per every Tarzan story previously, but the story was rejected by them and returned. Burroughs published it himself, almost two years later.

Tarzan and the Golden Lion

Tarzan and the Golden Lion is an adventure novel by American writer Edgar Rice Burroughs, the ninth in his series of books about the title character Tarzan. It was first published as a seven part serial in Argosy All-Story Weekly beginning in December 1922; and then as a complete novel by A.C. McClurg & Co. on March 24, 1923.

Tarzan and the Leopard Men

Tarzan and the Leopard Men is a novel by American writer Edgar Rice Burroughs, the eighteenth in his series of books about the title character Tarzan. Its plot has nothing in common with the 1946 film Tarzan and the Leopard Woman.

Tarzan and the Lion Man

Tarzan and the Lion Man is a novel by American writer Edgar Rice Burroughs, the seventeenth in his series of books about the title character Tarzan. The novel was originally serialized in the magazine Liberty from November 1933 through January 1934.

It satirizes Hollywood's treatment of the Tarzan character and even spoofs Burroughs' own work. It was written at a time when Johnny Weissmuller was becoming a movie star by playing Tarzan as an illiterate character, to Burroughs' open displeasure.

Tarzan and the Lost Empire

Tarzan and the Lost Empire is a novel by American writer Edgar Rice Burroughs, the twelfth in his series of books about the title character Tarzan. It was first published as a serial in Blue Book Magazine from October 1928 through February 1929; it first appeared in book form in a hardcover edition from Metropolitan Newspaper Services in September 1929. This was the first Edgar Rice Burroughs book not published by A. C. McClurg, with whom Burroughs had cut off business ties due to a dispute over royalties.

Tarzan and the Madman

Tarzan and the Madman is a novel by American writer Edgar Rice Burroughs, the twenty-third in his series of books about the title character Tarzan. Written from January to February 1940, the story was never published in Burroughs' lifetime. It was first published in hardcover by Canaveral Press in June 1964, and in paperback by Ballantine Books in February 1965.

Tarzan and the Tarzan Twins

Tarzan and the Tarzan Twins is a collection of two Tarzan novellas by American writer Edgar Rice Burroughs, for younger readers. It was originally published as two children's books, The Tarzan Twins by Voland in October 1927, and Tarzan and the Tarzan Twins, with Jad-bal-ja, the Golden Lion, by Whitman in March 1936. These were brought together in November 1963 under the title of Tarzan and the Tarzan Twins in the first complete edition.

Despite the gap in when they were written and first published, the events of the two stories occur in the same time-frame. The opening passage of "Tarzan and the Tarzan Twins, with Jad-bal-ja, the Golden Lion" specifies that its events occur immediately after those of "The Tarzan Twins." In relation to other Tarzan stories, the two parts of the Tarzan Twins tale presumably fall between Tarzan and the Ant Men and Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle chronologically, as the initial part was published between these two novels. The second part confirms their placement in approximately this period, as it introduces a family that figures prominently in Tarzan and the Lost Empire, the next book after Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle; specifically, it features Tarzan's first meeting with Doctor Karl von Harben, with whom he is already acquainted in Empire. Because Twins is a children's book, however, it is customarily omitted from listings of the main Tarzan series. Thus Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle is generally considered the eleventh Tarzan book rather than Twins.

Tarzan at the Earth's Core

Tarzan at the Earth's Core is a novel by American writer Edgar Rice Burroughs, published in 1930, the thirteenth in his series of books about the title character Tarzan and the fourth in his series set in the interior world of Pellucidar.

Tarzan the Invincible

Tarzan the Invincible is a novel by American writer Edgar Rice Burroughs, the fourteenth in his series of books about the title character Tarzan. The novel was originally serialized in the magazine Blue Book from October, 1930 through April, 1931 as Tarzan, Guard of the Jungle.

Tarzan the Magnificent (novel)

Tarzan the Magnificent is a book by American writer Edgar Rice Burroughs, the twenty-first in his series of books about the title character Tarzan. It was originally published as two separate stories serialized in different pulp magazines; "Tarzan and the Magic Men" in Argosy from September to October, 1936, and "Tarzan and the Elephant Men" in Blue Book from November 1937 to January 1938. The two stories were combined under the title Tarzan the Magnificent in the first book edition, published in 1939 by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc. In order of writing, the book follows Tarzan's Quest and precedes Tarzan and the Forbidden City. In order of book publication it falls between the latter and Tarzan and the Foreign Legion. The novel's plot bears no relation to that of the 1960 film of the same title.

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