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Old 12 June 2008, 08:02 PM
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Reading Carolyn Keene and Franklin Dixon were the same person

Comment: My daughter recently came home with "news" that I've heard
several times before--that the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew series were all
written by one person, using the pen names Franklin W. Dixon and Carolyn
Keene. A little research seems to indicate this isn't true, but I've
heard it enough times to make it an interesting topic for your site
(IMHO). And I'd like to know for sure.
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  #2  
Old 12 June 2008, 08:25 PM
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Originally Posted by snopes View Post
Comment: My daughter recently came home with "news" that I've heard
several times before--that the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew series were all
written by one person, using the pen names Franklin W. Dixon and Carolyn
Keene. A little research seems to indicate this isn't true, but I've
heard it enough times to make it an interesting topic for your site
(IMHO). And I'd like to know for sure.
The Nancy Drew and Hardy Boy books (and the Bobbsey Twins and lots of other books) were written by a team of writers who worked for The Stratemeyer Syndicate, who held the copyright, so if you wanted to argue that both Franklin W Dixon and Carolyn Keene were pen-names used by the Stratemeyer Syndicate, you probably could. But "one enormous factory-publishing operation" isn't quite the same as "one writer," is it?

But the first writer to write as "Franklin W Dixon" was a fellow called Leslie McFarlane, and the first writer to write as Carolyn Keene was a woman called Mildred something or other, so they weren't the same people. Probably a single writer may have written individual stories for both series under the pseudonym, but that's hardly the same.
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Old 12 June 2008, 08:30 PM
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The Stratemeyer Syndicate sounds like it would be up to something much more ominous than tween mystery novels
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  #4  
Old 12 June 2008, 08:32 PM
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The Stratemeyer Syndicate sounds like it would be up to something much more ominous than tween mystery novels
I thought the same thing. Maybe they were causing the mysteries.
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  #5  
Old 12 June 2008, 08:36 PM
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By the way, it should be noted that nearly every Hardy Boys story in particular has been almost entirely rewritten at least once, which is why they aren't racist anymore. So who the 'writer' is, even where it's known which it isn't in every occasion, is not entirely cut-and-dried.

Here's a good breakdown of who wrote which Hardy Boys book and here's the equivalent for Nancy Drew.

Incidentally, I've seen it claimed that the Hardy Boys were the best selling series of novels in history before the advent of Harry Potter. Does anyone know if that's true?
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Old 12 June 2008, 08:54 PM
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By the way, it should be noted that nearly every Hardy Boys story in particular has been almost entirely rewritten at least once, which is why they aren't racist anymore. So who the 'writer' is, even where it's known which it isn't in every occasion, is not entirely cut-and-dried.

Here's a good breakdown of who wrote which Hardy Boys book and here's the equivalent for Nancy Drew.

Incidentally, I've seen it claimed that the Hardy Boys were the best selling series of novels in history before the advent of Harry Potter. Does anyone know if that's true?
I didn't know they were ever racist. I have one very old edition of a Hardy Boys book where they were travelling by horse (there may have been a cart involved), and I have the one printed in the 60s where they were driving a car. My wife tells me she read an old Mystery of the Flying Express where the "Flying Express" was a train, but my version had it as a hovercraft.

Did it ever strike anyone as odd that these 17- and 18-year-old kids were experts at fencing, sailing, spelunking (back when the term was popular), auto mechanics, detective work, meterology, flying, and whatever else happened to fit the storyline?
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Old 12 June 2008, 08:59 PM
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...Did it ever strike anyone as odd that these 17- and 18-year-old kids were experts at fencing, sailing, spelunking (back when the term was popular), auto mechanics, detective work, meterology, flying, and whatever else happened to fit the storyline?
No, at the time it never occurred to me that a teenager wouldn't know everything.
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Old 12 June 2008, 09:01 PM
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Did it ever strike anyone as odd that these 17- and 18-year-old kids were experts at fencing, sailing, spelunking (back when the term was popular), auto mechanics, detective work, meterology, flying, and whatever else happened to fit the storyline?
*grumble grumble* Durn know-it-all teenagers... *grumble grumble*
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  #9  
Old 12 June 2008, 09:17 PM
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I didn't know they were ever racist. I have one very old edition of a Hardy Boys book where they were travelling by horse (there may have been a cart involved), and I have the one printed in the 60s where they were driving a car. My wife tells me she read an old Mystery of the Flying Express where the "Flying Express" was a train, but my version had it as a hovercraft.
Well, a lot of it wouldn't have been considered racist at the time, but would be now. African-American characters were generally servile and childlike, and at least one of the ghost-writers in the original series,(not Leslie McFarlane, possibly a writer called Walter Karig who covered for McFarlane during a salary dispute) had a serious problem with the Chinese. About three of the early series have properly stereotypical Fu Manchu style Chinese gangsters as villains, with buckteeth and everything. Who even runs a laundry as cover, and says things like "No tickee, no washee." Also, if you come back to them as an adult, the early Hardy Boys books are quite surprisingly homo-erotic.

My granddad was obsessed with American pulp fiction, and bought all of the Hardy Boys books for my Dad in the 1940s and 1950s (he also wrote a biography of Zane Grey that I keep meaning to have vanity-published as a present for my Dad,), so the ones I read were the originals, and then I discovered in the 1980s that the Hardy Books that I thought I'd read were in fact completely different from the Hardy Boys Books of the same title that were on the shelves of the library then. Which was very exciting, actually.
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Old 12 June 2008, 09:20 PM
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Reading

When I was in junior high school and started reading the Bantam paperback reprints of the Doc Savage pulps, I had no idea that "Kenneth Robeson" was a publisher pseudonym for Lester Dent (who wrote the bulk of the series) and several other authors (with whom Dent sometimes subcontracted to draft Doc Savage adventures when his workload got too heavy). Nonetheless, I recall reading one of the books and thinking to myself, "Hmm, this one seems strangely different in style from the other entries in this series," and sure enough, years later I learned it was one of the adventures that had been penned by someone other than Lester Dent.

- snopes
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  #11  
Old 13 June 2008, 12:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Dara bhur gCara View Post
... the Hardy Boys Books of the same title that were on the shelves of the library then.
You mean British and/or Irish libraries actually buy such books? That would be totally unheard of in Sweden. Nancy Drew (or Kitty as she for some reason is called in Swedish) is the symbol of crap literature not worthy of spending public money on.
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Old 13 June 2008, 01:25 PM
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We certainly had those books in our libraries when I was growing up in Montreal. Both our school library and city library were sources for my Hardy Boys fix. I still got all the books later, but I'd read them as soon as I could get my hands on them.

I remember one Chirstmas day when I got three Hardy Boys books. My best friend came over, and we sat in my room reading one book after another (not at the same time, of course) and by the end of the afternoon we'd read all three books, just passing them back and forth.
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Old 13 June 2008, 03:49 PM
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Applewood Press put out a reissue of several of the original Nancy Drew & Hardy Boys books in the 90's. They have forwards by contemporary mystery writers such as Sara Peretsky. They do feature lots of "Steppen Fetchit"http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steppen_Fetchit charictarizations. I wouldn't give those editions to children to read, but they are a curious "did I really read that right" trip for adults who read the originals from an old library, or read the pasteurized versions of the 50's & 60's.
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Old 13 June 2008, 04:12 PM
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Originally Posted by Floater View Post
You mean British and/or Irish libraries actually buy such books? That would be totally unheard of in Sweden. Nancy Drew (or Kitty as she for some reason is called in Swedish) is the symbol of crap literature not worthy of spending public money on.
What a shame. I grew up reading these, which did a lot to instill a lifelong love of reading. (I actually liked the Nancy Drew stories better than the Hardy Boys; my mother and her sisters kept several of them from their childhood and I checked the rest out from the library.) Crap literature it may be, but it was certainly appealing enough to a pre-adolescent that it meant I spent many hours curled up with a book rather than in front of a television or video game box.

Unfortunately, many kids today don't read for pleasure - their concept of reading is that it's something one must do for a school assignment, and is thus tedious by nature. I know several critics lambasted the Harry Potter series for not being good literature, but the fact of the matter is that it got lots of kids to spend time engaged in book reading. Instill a love of reading early on, and there's plenty of time for catching up on the classics (and contemporary literary works) later in life.
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Old 13 June 2008, 07:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Tarquin Farquart View Post
I thought the same thing. Maybe they were causing the mysteries.
And they would have gotten away with it, too, if it weren't for those meddling kids!
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  #16  
Old 13 June 2008, 07:19 PM
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Nice one, Le Chevalier Blanc! That line will never get old for me.
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  #17  
Old 13 June 2008, 07:28 PM
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There were also the Nancy Drew/Hardy Boys super mysteries. I remember reading ones that were published in the early/mid 90's. At the time there was also a Nancy Drew series that was more contemporary, I think she was in college and traveling the world.

I remember being in algebra class in 8th grade and reading one of the super mysteries in my lap under my desk. My teacher caught me and when he saw what I was reading he berated me in front of the whole class, "Miss G, this is 8th grade. Nancy Drew?" (I've also always HATED being called "Miss (my last name)" partly because my last name automatically sounds kind of mocking and even before I was conscious of feminism something bothered me about "miss")

I still remember how humiliated and frustrated I felt when that happened and I still harbor a good amount of resentment towards that teacher because of it.
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  #18  
Old 21 June 2008, 05:39 PM
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I thought I read somewhere that in the very first Nancy Drew books (published in the early 20's?) Nancy carried a gun and used the N word.

I think I read this in an article in Bitch magazine, but I don't remember how long ago.
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Old 21 June 2008, 07:15 PM
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I thought I read somewhere that in the very first Nancy Drew books (published in the early 20's?) Nancy carried a gun and used the N word.

I think I read this in an article in Bitch magazine, but I don't remember how long ago.
I've read the original Nancy Drew's and I don't remember her carrying a gun - she may have handled a gun for some reason but she certainly wasn't "packing heat" that I can recall! As to the n-word, I am pretty sure the word negro would have been used and I am also sure that they portrayed black's in a pretty stereotypical fashion (they were usually either servants or possibly lackey's to the main bad guy - and none too bright). I really don't think Nancy herself ever used the word n****r though.
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  #20  
Old 21 June 2008, 09:30 PM
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Originally Posted by musicgeek View Post
What a shame. I grew up reading these, which did a lot to instill a lifelong love of reading. (I actually liked the Nancy Drew stories better than the Hardy Boys; my mother and her sisters kept several of them from their childhood and I checked the rest out from the library.) Crap literature it may be, but it was certainly appealing enough to a pre-adolescent that it meant I spent many hours curled up with a book rather than in front of a television or video game box.

Unfortunately, many kids today don't read for pleasure - their concept of reading is that it's something one must do for a school assignment, and is thus tedious by nature. I know several critics lambasted the Harry Potter series for not being good literature, but the fact of the matter is that it got lots of kids to spend time engaged in book reading. Instill a love of reading early on, and there's plenty of time for catching up on the classics (and contemporary literary works) later in life.
Hear, hear. I am somewhat ashamed of some of the crap I spent my childhood reading, but the point is, I *did* spend my childhood reading. As a result, I actually enjoyed some of the books I had to read in high school (especially Julius Caesar and To Kill A Mockingbird), and I never had a problem finding books for book reports. It's actually kind of sad that more kids don't read, and that some parents refuse to let their kids read the few book series that actually appeal to them.
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