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

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

by Marilyn S. Greenwald
     
 

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.

The Secret of the Hardy Boys: Leslie McFarlane and

Overview


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.

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.

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.

Commenting on the longevity of the Hardy Boys series, the New York Times noted, “Mr. McFarlane breathed originality into the Stratemeyer plots, loading on playful detail.” 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.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“A fascinating slice of publishing history and a lease on life for Franklin W. Dixon fans.”
Booklist

“Making use of extensive archival research, Greenwald illuminates the working relationship between ghostwriter Leslie McFarlane and syndicate chief Edward Stratemeyer in fascinating ways—showing how an arrangement that aimed at nothing more than quick pulp profits produced one of the most enduring and influential formulas in the history of children’s publishing”
— Tim Morris, author of You’re Only Young Twice: Children’s Literature and Film

“The Hardy Boys turn 75 next year, still living at home and enrolled in Bayport High. They are still well-scrubbed Boy Scout types from the 1920s, with personalities that barely extend beyond the color of their hair. And their books still sell more than a million copies a year.”
New York Times

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780821415474
Publisher:
Ohio University Press
Publication date:
07/28/2004
Edition description:
1
Pages:
384
Sales rank:
1,281,115
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.20(d)
Age Range:
15 Years

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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