Were the Literary Characters Tarzan and Jane Based on Any Real-Life People?


Quick Answer

Tarzan and Jane are fictional characters created by Edgar Rice Burroughs in 1912. Though they are not based on real people, there are several real-life accounts of people who have lived a similar life to Tarzan.

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Full Answer

The fictional story of Tarzan first appeared in a pulp magazine called All-Story. The story became widely popular and Burroughs wrote a sequel in 1913; All-Story rejected it, but Burroughs sold the sequel to a rival magazine.

Real examples of people who lived a Tarzan-like lifestyle include Michael Peter Fomenko, who lived in a rain forest between Cape York and Ingham of northern Australia for 40 years, surviving off of crocodile and boar meat. After reading Homer's "The Odyssey," he was inspired to flee society and live in the wild at the age of 24.

Ho Van Thanh and Ho Van Lang of Vietnam were discovered after 40 years of living in the jungles of the eastern Quang Ngai Province. During the Vietnam War, soldier Ho Van Thanh fled to the jungle with his infant son due to traumatization caused by a bomb that killed three of his family members. The two survived on fruits and nuts in the jungle until finally emerging in 2013.

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