Classic Query Winner: Tarzan of the Apes

So who is it?  Which query was bold enough, great enough, relentlessly amazing enough to win our grand prize?  Well, I don’t think it will be spoiling too much to say that this is a classic that nobody has been able to ape.  Take it away, Mr. Burroughs!


April 1, 1912

Mr. Frank Munsey
The All-Story Magazine
New York, New York

Dear Mr. Munsey:

I was delighted to hear about the enthusiastic response my story, “Under the Moons of Mars” received from readers of your magazine earlier this year. I hope you and your readers will be equally delighted by a new tale with an exotic setting on planet Earth, my 86,000-word adventure story, “Tarzan of the Apes.”

The story begins more than twenty years ago, when the English Lord Greystoke and his wife set out for a tour of Africa, expecting it to be their last trip they would take together until after Lady Greystoke gave birth to their first child. But before they reach their destination their ship’s crew mutinies, marooning the Greystokes on the darkest shores of the dark continent.

There John, Lord Greystoke, and Lady Alice, his wife, vanish from the eyes and from the knowledge of men. They leave behind a hut with their few possessions and a young child, who would have been slain by jungle beasts but for the love of the she-ape Kala. Grieving for the death of her own infant, Kala rears the strange orphaned child as her own, naming him “Tarzan,” which means “white skin” in the language of the anthropoid apes. Surrounded by Kala’s ape tribe, Tarzan grows to manhood derided by the apes for his strange appearance and ignorant of his human origins. At last another ship arrives, marooned on the same shores as the parents Tarzan never knew. And to the amazement of the young ape-man, it carries the lovely Jane Porter ashore, straight into the heart of Tarzan.

The ship also carries Jane Porter’s fiancé, the same man who has inherited the title and estate left vacant by the death of Tarzan’s unknown father, Lord Greystoke. Among the tribe of anthropoid apes Tarzan belongs to, a male will fight all comers to gain a mate. But is a fight to the death the way to win the heart of a civilized young woman such as Jane Porter? And once Tarzan has known love, can he be content to return to his ape companions?

As you know from our previous acquaintance, Mr. Munsey, I have proved myself able to provide the kind of exciting adventures with a romantic twist that readers of “All-Story” demand. My contact information is the same as that previously furnished. I look forward to your response to this new story, “Tarzan of the Apes.”

Yours sincerely,

Edgar Rice Burroughs
And there you have it, ladies and gents: this is the query that Donald Maass selected as our outstanding winner, calling it “excellent, wonderfully researched and probably better than Burroughs himself would have written.” Now that is high praise!

So who is this mysterious contender who can out-Burrough Burroughs? Who has won the last of the personal query critiques from Donald Maass, and the coveted golden ticket to DFWcon? Why, none other than Melissa Embry!

Please join us in congratulating her on an excellent and well-deserved win. And while you’re at it, please help us express our sincere admiration for every writer who took the time to enter: this was easily one of the most fun contests we’ve run yet, and if our entrants’ real queries are as high-quality as their ‘classics’, we anticipate a lot of manuscript requests in their future!

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