The Secret of the Hardy Boys: Leslie McFarlane and the Stratemeyer Syndicate

Overview

The Secret of the Hardy Boys: Leslie McFarlane and the Stratemeyer Syndicate recounts how a newspaper reporter with dreams of becoming a serious novelist first brought to life Joe and Frank Hardy, who became two of the most famous characters in children’s literature. The author of the Hardy Boys Mysteries was, as millions of readers know, Franklin W. Dixon. Except there never was a Franklin W. Dixon. He was the creation of Edward Stratemeyer, the savvy founder of a children’s book empire that also published the ...

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Overview

The Secret of the Hardy Boys: Leslie McFarlane and the Stratemeyer Syndicate recounts how a newspaper reporter with dreams of becoming a serious novelist first brought to life Joe and Frank Hardy, who became two of the most famous characters in children’s literature. The author of the Hardy Boys Mysteries was, as millions of readers know, Franklin W. Dixon. Except there never was a Franklin W. Dixon. He was the creation of Edward Stratemeyer, the savvy founder of a children’s book empire that also published the Tom Swift, Bobbsey Twins, and Nancy Drew series. Embarrassed by his secret identity as the author of the Hardy Boys books, Leslie McFarlane admitted it to no one. His son pried the truth out of him years later. Having signed away all rights to the books, McFarlane never shared in the wild financial success of the series. Far from being bitter, however, late in life McFarlane took satisfaction in having helped introduce millions of children to the joys of reading. Author Marilyn Greenwald gives us the story of McFarlane’s life and career, including for the first time a compelling account of his writing life after the Hardy Boys. A talented and versatile writer, McFarlane adapted to sweeping changes in North American markets for writers, as pulp and glossy magazines made way for films, radio, and television. It is a fascinating and inspiring story of the force of talent and personality transcending narrow limits.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This thorough if lackluster biography charts the career of Leslie McFarlane, who penned the first 16 books of the famous Hardy Boys series under the pseudonym Franklin W. Dixon. In 1926, the enterprising New Jersey book packager Edward Stratemeyer created the series: formulaic fiction strategically marketed to newly leisured adolescent boys. McFarlane, a young journalist in northern Ontario, regarded his ghostwriting as hackwork. He neither sought nor received credit or financial gain proportionate to the series' popularity. A proud Canadian, McFarlane harbored unrealized ambitions to write a Canadian epic novel and found gratification only in publishing his stories in literary magazines. Striving to support a growing family, McFarlane eventually found success in Canadian broadcast writing and directing. A professor of journalism at Ohio University and biographer of Charlotte Curtis (A Woman of the Times), Greenwald writes straightforwardly about the ethnically stereotypical, sex-free world of the Hardy Boys. Although she records debates over the literary value of popular children's fiction, Greenwald concentrates on the business details of the Stratemeyer Syndicate, on McFarlane's professional and family life, and on the lasting influence of his smalltown Canadian childhood. While her study reflects meticulous factual research and will inevitably appeal to Hardy Boys fans, others may be frustrated by the lack here of a thesis about the books' cultural legacy. 33 illus. (July) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780821415474
  • Publisher: Ohio University Press
  • Publication date: 7/28/2004
  • Pages: 384
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Marilyn S. Greenwald is a professor of journalism at Ohio University. She was formerly a reporter and editor at several daily papers in Ohio. She and her husband live in Columbus, Ohio.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix
Introduction xi
Chapter 1. Two Lives Intersect 1
Chapter 2. A Writer Is Born 17
Chapter 3. The Ghost of the Hardy Boys 31
Chapter 4. Birth of a Series 48
Chapter 5. A Well-Oiled Machine 63
Chapter 6. The Golden Handcuffs 76
Chapter 7. Tough Times 90
Chapter 8. The Circle Grows 107
Chapter 9. Good or Bad Books? 124
Chapter 10. The Best and Worst of Times 141
Chapter 11. New Opportunities 159
Chapter 12. Directing the Picture 171
Chapter 13. On the Air 188
Chapter 14. A Tragic Time 202
Chapter 15. A Ghost Emerges 220
Chapter 16. Ghosts of Their Former Selves 234
Chapter 17. At Home at the Typewriter 254
Chapter 18. The Final Chapter 273
References 283
Published Works by Leslie McFarlane 303
Index 305
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 2, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    disappointing

    This is a plodding biography that has some decent content on MacFarlane's involvement with the Stratmeyer Syndicate and his authoring of the Hardy Boys. However, there's a lot of tedious material to get through for a few interesting parts.

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