by Laurence Dunn —
Frank Westwood, one of the founders of the British Edgar Rice Burroughs Society and editor of the society’s journal The Fantastic Worlds of ERB, has sadly taken his final voyage down the River Iss. Earlier this year he had seen his doctor and told him that his heart was not working properly and had to have surgery for a triple by-pass operation. During his recovery period at home, he suffered a serious stroke that affected one side of his body. Only in recent weeks he managed to start talking again and have some movement in his arm. He was then moved into a care home in the last couple of weeks to assist in his recovery when I was given the sad news this morning by Rod Jackson, one of the co-founders of the Society that he had passed away the day before. His wife Doreen was at his side.
I first corresponded with Frank in late 1974 after an ad for the Society appeared in a newsstand journal called Science Fiction Monthly. It was another couple of years before I finally met both Frank and Rod at an event in London where the Society had a stand. It was the beginning of many years of visits and phone calls, discuss our favourite author and often have differences of opinion, but that’s what made it so much fun. We attended our first ERB convention together in Louisville in 1985 (although there had been a small get-together at the World SciFi Convention in Brighton, England in the summer of 1979) along with his wife Doreen and another fan, Ken Hall. For many years, Frank was the Society as some of the co-founders like Dick Ellingsworth, Paul Norman and Paul Privitera each gave less time as the years passed by. Frank hosted two very successful conventions which took place in London and Greystoke Castle on both occasions in 1988 and again in 1997. I shall never forget that night in 1988 when we approached the castle in our bus as Frank first of all played a tape with Ed Burroughs dictating one of his novels. For many of us, that was the first time we had ever heard Ed’s voice. Then as the bus turned a corner in the drive up to the castle, Frank played the theme tune from the movie, Greystoke. The moment was magical.
Frank Westwood With Other Burroughs Fanzine Editors in Tarzana
Front row: Bill Ross (Tarzine), Frank Westwood (Fantastic Worlds of ERB). Back row: Pete Ogden (Erbania), Danton, Mike Conran (ERB News Dateline)and George McWhorter (Burroughs Bulletin)
Many years ago he began writing a book that he titled the Martian Manuscripts of ERB as the Barsoomian novels were amongst his favourite. Sadly he never finished it. Frank was not overly impressed by the movie John Carter. He was a purist and Andrew Stanton had changed it too much for his liking. But at least he lived long enough to see Burroughs first Martian novel finally reach the big screen, unlike so many other friends that have passed away over the years. I always felt that Danton Burroughs was dealt a cruel blow when he passed away before seeing the film. Frank would often say that he thought Burroughs was on the verge of discovering something new when he talked of the various Barsoomian rays and he always hoped that one day, science would one day catch up with Burroughs vivid imagination.
Frank and Danton were so alike in their enthusiasm and passion for ERB that when you were with either of them, talking about Burroughs or his work, you became a part of it and every reason why you enjoyed reading Burroughs came alive. Both men enjoyed meeting new fans and Frank would take great delight in sharing his knowledge of the books and perhaps introduce them to other novels that they never knew the master story teller had written.
Frank was my introduction to ERB fandom and through him, my whole way of life changed forever. I have met so many friends around the world, attended countless ERB conventions and ultimately through them, I met my fiancé Judy. For a time, I was even Chairman of the Board for the Burroughs Bibliophiles and Frank could not be happier for me. But I owed it all to him.
I do not follow any religion, I never have done, but somehow I like to think that Frank and Danton have met up on that final voyage down the River Iss, and together they met Ed Burroughs and all of our favourite characters from the vast range of his novels and are sharing new adventures together.
A very dear friend and a dedicated fan of ERB has been lost to us today. RIP Frank, I’ll miss you.
Courtesy of ERBzine
Courtesy of Edgar Rice Burroughs Inc.