Long for their fantastical representations of wildlife he also denounced the booming genre of "naturalistic" animal stories as "yellow journalism of the woods". He continued to write and continued as a federal bank examiner for several more years. Among Burroughs's classmates was future financier Jay Gould.
By the turn of the 20th century he had become a virtual cultural institution[peacock term] in his own right: the Grand Old Man of Nature at a time when the American romance with the idea of nature and the American conservation movement had come fully into their own. " The result was a body of work whose perfect resonance with the tone of its cultural moment perhaps explains both its enormous popularity at that time and its relative obscurity since. His extraordinary popularity and popular visibility were sustained by a prolific stream of essay collections beginning with Wake-Robin in 1871.