Edward Stratemeyer & the Stratemeyer Syndicate http://stratemeyer.org Dedicated to the legacy of Edward Stratemeyer, author & founder of the Stratemeyer Syndicate Fri, 15 Dec 2017 13:11:26 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.1 91098757 Whisky Instead of Milk http://stratemeyer.org/2017/12/whisky-instead-milk/ http://stratemeyer.org/2017/12/whisky-instead-milk/#respond Tue, 12 Dec 2017 00:56:16 +0000 http://stratemeyer.org/?p=37911 After Franklin K. Mathiews’ polemic was published in The Outlook in November 1914, which led to the foundation of Children’s Book Week, there were other articles published to warn parents, teachers, and librarians of the reading they considered to be dangerous to boys and their imaginations. One interesting example was written by Walter Prichard Eaton (1878-1957) […]

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After Franklin K. Mathiews’ polemic was published in The Outlook in November 1914, which led to the foundation of Children’s Book Week, there were other articles published to warn parents, teachers, and librarians of the reading they considered to be dangerous to boys and their imaginations.

One interesting example was written by Walter Prichard Eaton (1878-1957) for the December 1915 issue of the Woman’s Home Companion called “Your Boy’s Christmas Books — Are they the old-time ‘nickel thrillers’ dressed up and sold for fifty cents?”  It was reprinted in many newspapers.

Picking up on Mathiews’ theme from “Blowing Out the Boy’s Brains,” Eaton wrote that most of the series books were repackaged dime novels and nickel library volumes in cloth covers to gain a false sense of respectability.  There were several series and publisher libraries where the stories were first published as a story paper serial or several dime novel stories.  The volumes in the Street & Smith (later and more prolifically David McKay) Boys’ Own Library were edited from serials in story paper publications like Good News.

A few representative volumes from the Boys’ Own Library as published by David McKay.

Edward Stratemeyer was involved in editing some of these stories for hardcover book publication as well as the thick pulp-paper softcovers that used the same printing plates.  Some of his own “Winfield” and “Bonehill” stories for Good News were published as volumes in the Boys’ Own Library.

An example of a Stratemeyer story from Good News that was published in book form in the Boys’ Own Library with a new title.

These book ad pages show the Stratemeyer titles published in this library.

Ad pages for the Boys’ Own Library with stories by Edward Stratemeyer as by “Capt. Ralph Bonehill” and “Arthur M. Winfield.”

The pernicious nature of dime novels and story papers varied by publisher, author, and series.  Some stories, like the Frank Merriwell sports and adventure books, were conspicuously wholesome with its lead character who emphasized fair play and completely avoided alcohol and tobacco.  Years later Stratemeyer was asked by Street & Smith editors to testify to this.

Edward Stratemeyer to Street & Smith, Dec. 12, 1907.

Stratemeyer made his testimony on January 14, 1908 in support of the Tip Top Weekly stories.

“Snow Lodge” was first published in The Popular Magazine. It was reprinted by mistake as filler material in Tip Top Weekly in 1912.

In January 1912, Street & Smith reprinted a short story by Stratemeyer in the Tip Top Weekly.  To this, Edward registered a strong objection.  He did not want to have his name appear on the pages of that publication.  Street & Smith reminded him of his testimonial and his work on the Boys’ Own library.  Stratemeyer replied:

Now regarding your “Tip Top” stories. It is true that I edited some of the very first numbers of the “Tip Top Library” for book publication.

But it is likewise true that in those days the publication was of a different character from what it is now. It had one hero, Frank Merriwell, and he was a brave and clever schoolboy, doing schoolboy things and having schoolboy adventures. It is also true that I testified in your Post Office case, putting myself out a good deal to do it, to the affect [sic] that I thought the “Tip Top” “clean and of a good moral tone” and a publication that ought to have second-class entry. It can be all of that, and still not be such a publication as an author would care to contribute to under his own name. Mr. Gorse Payton can give good, clean shows for ten, twenty and thirty cents and yet have Frances Wilson and even George Cohan refuse to appear on his programme. Mr. Childs can offer good clean food for ten and twenty cents a meal and yet I doubt if you gentlemen would care to dine at any of his establishments.

All an author has to trade on is his name, and when he and his publishers spend many thousands of dollars to make that name valuable in the book world you cannot blame him when he tries to protect that name as much as possible. Your editor, if he knows the book world at all, must have known that to print an “Edward Stratemeyer” copyrighted story in the “Tip Top Weekly” would work great harm to the “Edward Stratemeyer” books, which for the past several years have been the best sellers among high-class books for boys.

I have no desire whatever to appear harsh in this matter, and I appreciate the sentiment expressed in your letter to the affect [sic] that you thought you were within your rights in republishing, but would not have availed of the privilege if you had supposed I would object. But I think it is on your shoulders to adjust this matter so as little harm will be done to my reputation and the sale of my books as possible, and for the future I must, and hereby do, positively forbid the publication of any “Edward Stratemeyer” story in any of your publications, excepting the stories that are under our agreements may be re-issued in the “Popular Magazine.” All rights in other “Edward Stratemeyer” stories were bought back by me from you, and transfers duly recorded at Washington, and nom-de-plume stories were sold under agreements stipulating that they should be “issued under such pen names, and in no other way.”

Would you be willing to issue a Card in the “Tip Top Weekly,” stating that the story, “Snow Lodge, by Edward Stratemeyer, the well-known author of so many popular books for boys, and had been written by him for the “Popular Magazine” and was published in “Tip Top” by mistake,” etc.? Such a card would be no more than fair, in my judgement, and might go a long way towards removing any damage done to my reputation.

— Edward Stratemeyer to Street & Smith, Jan. 18, 1912.

Other publishers of dime novels and story papers emphasized violence, crime, and were worthy of criticism.  However, it seems excessive to make a blanket judgement of an entire class of literature.  Like anything else, there are good and bad examples and they deserve to be evaluated individually.

In the Eaton article for Woman’s Home Companion, he gave an example using passages from Tom Swift and His Photo Telephone (Grosset & Dunlap, 1914).  Although the quotes are accurate, it is not correct to say that this story is a “nickel thriller dressed up and sold for fifty cents.”  This story was completely new story that was ghostwritten by Howard R. Garis from Edward Stratemeyer’s outline under the aegis of the Stratemeyer Syndicate.

In the effort to make an invention adventure story that appealed to boys of the day, Tom Swift is engaged, from volume to volume, in the kinds of devices and vehicles that were appearing in the newspapers and popular science publications of the day.  Indeed, nearly all of the inventions described were based on descriptions in these publications.  As exotic as Photo Telephone seems to be, it was inspired by the pioneering efforts of Ernst Ruhmer (1878-1913) to transmit simple “images” over wires.  He proposed building a more elaborate device for the 1909 International Exposition in Brussels if funding could be secured.  Here is his proof of concept device that was described and shown in Hugo Gernsback’s Modern Electrics magazine.

Ernst Ruhmer and his Telephot in Modern Electrics, Dec. 1909.

Tom Swift’s age was not given in most stories.  However, the outline for the first volume, Tom Swift and His Motor-Cycle (1910), indicated to the ghostwriter (Garis) that Tom was sixteen years of age in that first volume.  Of course, without reference to his age or the passage of time, the routine references to “young inventor” make it appear that no person could do all that he did at so young an age.  Years later, the stories included slight references to indicate that Tom was young but in his twenties.  The key was to avoid making the character seem too old and lose the connection with the readers aged 10 to 20 years.

Walter Prichard Eaton was not an uninterested party critiquing this kind of literature.  For several years before this article was published, he was the author of many books, including a series of realistic Boy Scout stories for W.A. Wilde of Boston.

Four volumes from Walter Prichard Eaton’s series of Boy Scout stories published by W.A. Wilde of Boston.

Boy Scouts series by Walter Prichard Eaton

  1. Boy Scouts of the Berkshire (1912)
  2. Boy Scouts of the Dismal Swamp (1913)
  3. Boy Scouts in the White Mountains: The Story of a Long Hike (1914)
  4. Boy Scouts of the Wildcat Patrol: The Adventures of Peanut as a Young Scoutmaster (1915)
  5. Boy Scouts in Glacier Park: The Adventures of Two Young Easterners in the Heart of the High Rockies (1918)
  6. Boy Scouts at Crater Lake: A Story of Crater Lake National Park and High Cascades (1922)
  7. Boy Scouts on Katahdin: A Story of the Maine Woods (1924)
  8. Boy Scouts on the Green Mountain Trail: A Story of the Long Trail (1929)
  9. Boy Scouts at the Grand Canyon: A Story of Rainbow County (1932)
  10. Boy Scouts in Death Valley (1934)

None of the volumes in this series were reprinted in cheaper editions in the Boy Scouts of America-sponsored Every Boy’s Library that was published by Grosset & Dunlap as they did The Boy Scouts of Black Eagle Patrol by Leslie W. Quirk.

Perhaps Walter Prichard Eaton was hoping that they would pick up one or more of his volumes in this series.

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Location — Bayport http://stratemeyer.org/2017/10/location-bayport/ http://stratemeyer.org/2017/10/location-bayport/#respond Tue, 24 Oct 2017 16:50:16 +0000 http://stratemeyer.org/?p=36445 Where is Bayport? This question is part of a popular parlor game among readers of the Hardy Boys series.  Even though most will admit that the location is fictitious, that does not stop them from trying to identify the state containing Bayport and possibly the location itself.  At least nine articles in the series book […]

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Where is Bayport?

This question is part of a popular parlor game among readers of the Hardy Boys series.  Even though most will admit that the location is fictitious, that does not stop them from trying to identify the state containing Bayport and possibly the location itself. 

At least nine articles in the series book magazine Yellowback Library have gathered clues from the stories to make cases for assigning Bayport to any particular state or town.  Other articles and theories exist as well.

YL 117 Mar. 1994 Case for Bayport, NJ Doug Allcock  
YL 145 July 1996 Welcome to Bayport, MA Jim Mixon Plymouth, MA
YL 145 July 1996 Bayport Revisited Doug Allcock Morro Castle in Hidden Harbor
YL 153 Mar. 1997 Bayport Revisited II Doug Allcock Emilio Carranza in Mark on the Door
YL 162 Dec. 1997 Bayport Revisited III Doug Allcock Cabin Island
YL 165 Mar. 1998 Bayport Revisited Addendum “Rea Cerche” An “interview” with Doug Allcock
YL 177 Mar. 1999 Bayport Revisited IV Doug Allcock The 1939 New York World’s Fair and The Disappearing Floor
YL 187 Jan. 2000 Bayport Revisited V Doug Allcock New York City at the time of What Happened at Midnight
YL 215 May 2002 Bayport Revisited VI Doug Allcock The Gretta endpapers 

Some of the additional theories from readers were published in the letters column of Yellowback Library.

The Lost Hardys

The Lost Hardys: A Concordance (1993) by Robert L. Crawford.

Robert Crawford devotes a chapter (pp. 42-57) to clues to the location of Bayport from the first 40 original-text volumes in his book, The Lost Hardys: A Concordance (1993).  He outlines cases for several states including New Jersey, Delaware, and Maine with citations for each clue.  He also goes into details about how Bayport was described in the first 40 volumes (with dust jackets).  Crawford even includes floor plan diagrams of the Hardy Home.  Other portions of the book surveys the characters (primary and secondary), crimes, and themes of the stories.  Each citation has a five-digit number with the volume number and page for the reference.  It packs a good deal of information in its 77 numbered pages.

 


Connelly-Hardy Boys Mysteries

The Hardy Boys Mysteries, 1927-1979: A Cultural and Literary History (McFarland, 2008) by Mark Connelly.

 

 

Chapter 13 of Mark Connelly’s The Hardy Boys Mysteries, 1927-1979: A Cultural and Literary History (McFarland, 2008) devotes chapter 13 to “Bayport, U.S.A.” which includes the notion that Haileybury, Ontario, Canada, where Leslie McFarlane lived was at least an influence on the descriptions even if it was not close enough to New York City to match the references in the books.

 


For someone who wishes to play the game or simply wonders if Bayport is a real town, one of the first stops for research is a gazetteer or a general web search to look for a town with that name.  The one that gets brought up often is Bayport, New York on Long Island.  The name is the same but it fails the criteria described in story after story in the series.

Bayport, New York is a village on Long Island as described in a 1939 Long Island Gazzetteer.

In the 1960s the Stratemeyer Syndicate tried to make its stories as consistent as possible.  The goal was to have similar descriptions and portrayals of characters and locales and this was achieved by composing a series “bible” with entries on characters (major and secondary), locales, and past plots.  The latter was to minimize repetition of crimes and themes.  For the Hardy Boys, there were even horoscope pages for key characters (Frank, Joe, Chet, and Aunt Gertrude) with the ramifications of each zodiacal sign on that person that might contribute to the new stories.  Before the bible was composed, writers more or less copied any books at hand, worked from memory, and invented new characters and locales as their plot called for.

What does the Hardy Boys bible say about Bayport?

Hardy Boys bible entry on Bayport

The 1960s Hardy Boys bible entry on Bayport and the Hardy home based on descriptions used in prior volumes.

The population of Bayport was changed by Edward Stratemeyer in January 1927 after he read Leslie McFarlane’s manuscript for the first volume, The Tower Treasure.  What was originally 100,000 in the story (not specified in the outline) was reduced to 50,000 because of the level of professionalism of the police department in McFarlane’s text.  As he notes, this would mean only one high school in the town.

Population of Bayport

Portion of a letter from Edward Stratemeyer to Leslie McFarlane regarding the population size of Bayport.

One of the elements which causes problems for most location candidates is the series of steep cliffs with caves at the shoreline which can have concealed tunnels leading up to the surface at the top of the bluff as in The House on the Cliff (1927).  Bayport, N.Y. falls short in this.

Nearly all of the descriptions say that Bayport is on Barmet Bay which opens to the Atlantic Ocean.  This causes problems for locations in upstate New York or Ontario, Canada.

Another part of the Stratemeyer Syndicate’s bible for the Hardy Boys series had their own sketched map of Barmet Bay, showing Bayport and surrounding towns and landmarks.  An earlier summary of the locale description suggested that it was “apparently” but not actually in New York state based on travel distances and times mentioned in the stories.

Map of Barmet Bay and Bayport

The Stratemeyer Syndicate’s sketch map of Barmet Bay and Bayport from the 1960s Hardy Boys bible.

Of course, there are many contradictions to even the official descriptions.  The 1970s and 1990s TV shows provided clues to the location of Bayport with the on-screen license plates.

After the Syndicate was sold to Simon & Schuster, the new book packagers like MegaBooks had their own canonical descriptions for authors to follow.  River Heights for Nancy Drew which was vaguely in the “Midwest” was specified to Illinois in these descriptions and some books mention it.

When PaperCutz did their comic book story based on the Hardy Boys, “The Ocean of Osyria” in 2006, they showed a map that vaguely identified a location for Bayport.

2006-PaperCutz-HardyBoys-The_Ocean_of_Osyria-Bayport-map

Map of the eastern U.S. with the location of Bayport identified in the comic book “The Ocean of Osyria” (PaperCutz, 2006).

In the late 1940s Grosset & Dunlap employed an art director, A.P. Tedesco, who redesigned the layout, typefaces, and other aspects of the appearance of books from the publisher.  Some of these included map-illustrated endpapers to help readers follow along with the adventures.  An example of this is the map of Africa for the late reprints of the Tarzan series.

Map of Tarzan's Africa

A map of Africa with locales in the Tarzan series.

1947-Richards-One_Hundred_South_Jersey_Novels-p000

One Hundred South Jersey Novels (1947) by Horace Gardiner Richards.

In 1947, Horace Gardiner Richards was compiling a bibliography of stories set in the southern part of New Jersey.  His draft title was Jerseyana but the book had a more prosaic title of One Hundred South Jersey Novels: a bibliography of fiction with a southern New Jersey setting (New Jersey Folk-lore Society, 1947). 

He asked if Barmet Bay was based on Barnegat Bay (a theory posited by some Hardy Boys reader playing the game) but Harriet Stratemeyer Adams replied in the negative.  She also stated that there was discussion about including maps for the endpapers.

 

Syndicate reply about location of Barmet Bay

Feb. 20, 1947 reply from the Stratemeyer Syndicate about the location of Bayport and Barmet Bay.

Another Grosset & Dunlap series famously included map endpapers.  The Rick Brant series was not a Stratemeyer Syndicate product but since it began in 1947 it included the sort of endpaper that the Hardy Boys might have received.

Rick Brant endpapers

Rick Brant endpapers with a map of Spindrift Island, the base of operations.

A decade later when the Hardy Boys were portrayed on television in two serials for The Mickey Mouse Club, comic books included a map of Bayport to help readers follow the action in the story.

1957 Bayport map

1957 map of Bayport drawn for a Disney comic book version of The Secret of the Old Mill.

When asked by a CBC reporter in 1972, decades after his work on the Hardy Boys, Leslie McFarlane replied about Bayport to which he replied:

They lived in the city of Bayport, which you will find in no map—no map of the Atlantic coast. It is vaguely somewhere between New York City and Florida. And there’s a river runs into it. And there’s a bay. And the Atlantic Ocean is out there, conveniently handy when the boys want to pursue rascals in motor boats and so forth and get involved in mysteries involved in shipping such as The Phantom Freighter. And then there’s some hills in the background and there can be haunted houses and derelict buildings where the boys can get into adventures with different degrees of—oh, shall we say “mayhem”?

McFarlane repeated some of this sentiment in his 1976 memoir, Ghost of the Hardy Boys.

Like the contents of the Hardy Boys’ pockets, Bayport contains whatever is needed for the next mystery adventure.  The game of specifying a location for Bayport is fun to play but don’t expect to come up with a single answer that fits all of the textual evidence.

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Happy Birthday Edward Stratemeyer http://stratemeyer.org/2017/10/happy-birthday-edward-stratemeyer/ http://stratemeyer.org/2017/10/happy-birthday-edward-stratemeyer/#respond Wed, 04 Oct 2017 16:30:47 +0000 http://stratemeyer.org/?p=36373 This post was written on the 155th anniversary of Edward Stratemeyer’s birthday. Edward Stratemeyer was born on October 4, 1862 in Elizabeth, New Jersey to Henry Julius Stratemeyer and Anna Siegel Stratemeyer.  He was the youngest of six children born to Anna.  His three oldest half-brothers were fathered by George Edward Stratemeyer before he died […]

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This post was written on the 155th anniversary of Edward Stratemeyer’s birthday.

Edward Stratemeyer was born on October 4, 1862 in Elizabeth, New Jersey to Henry Julius Stratemeyer and Anna Siegel Stratemeyer.  He was the youngest of six children born to Anna.  His three oldest half-brothers were fathered by George Edward Stratemeyer before he died of cholera in 1854.

In the mid- and late-1870s, Edward experimented with amateur printing for stories he wrote or copied from other sources.  Often the equipment was owned by an acquaintance who lived nearby based on the addresses in the extant pieces.  This work helped him later in life when he was dealing directly with some typesetters and publishers.

Some examples of amateur printing by Edward Stratemeyer from the 1870s and at his direction in 1883.

Several members of the family worked in tobacco stores, either the one conducted by Henry Julius Stratemeyer Sr. at the railroad crossing or the one owned initially by Henry Julius Stratemeyer Jr. and Maurice Henry Stratemeyer and later by Maurice alone at 31 Broad Street.  Edward worked at each of them as needed.

Of course, the usual myth about Edward is that he wrote his first long story for publication, “Victor Horton’s Idea” at his brother’s store.  However, his own “Literary Account Books” state that this first story was written “at home” when the family was living at 24 Palmer Street in Elizabeth, New Jersey.  Other stories were indeed written in his brother Maurice’s store at 31 Broad Street, just not this first one.

The first page from Stratemeyer’s Literary Account Book that shows “Victor Horton’s Idea” was written at home but other stories were written at his brother, Maurice’s, shop.

The other part of the myth is that he wrote the story on “brown wrapping paper” in pencil and sent that copy in.  However, two copies of the manuscript exist.  One is on yellow paper which is about the thickness of “construction paper” used in elementary schools today.  The story, by “Arthur M. Winfield,” was written in pencil on that copy.  However, the one that was turned in was recopied on good paper in ink.

Victor Horton's Idea Manuscripts

Two copies of the manuscript of “Victor Horton’s Idea.” The one on the left was on yellow paper in pencil. The one that was actually turned in was on good paper in ink.

“Victor Horton’s Idea” was published in five weekly installments in the Philadelphia story paper, Golden Days, that was owned and edited by James Elverson.  Later, when Edward wanted to buy the story back for some potential reuse, Elverson declined on multiple occasions.  Even after Elverson died, his son also declined Edward’s request.  As a result, Edward was never able to publish it as a book, perhaps in an expanded form.  Some of the themes, including the attitude toward “dime novels,” were reused in other short stories such as “A Longed-For Adventure.”

In addition to writing story paper serials for Golden Days, Argosy, Good News, Golden Hours and other similar publications, Edward was also obliged by the publishers of these to write stories which might generically be called “dime novels” or “nickel library” stories.  Most of these sold for 5 cents, hence the latter moniker.  Only a few of his longer stories sold for 10 cents.  He wrote about 90 of these, often very quickly, to fit the requirements of theme and style for publishers like Street & Smith, Norman L. Munro, and Beadle and Adams.

Dime Novels by Edward Stratemeyer

A Story Paper and several Dime Novels by Edward Stratemeyer.

Some of Edward’s story paper fiction became his first hardcover books.  One of these was a serial for Argosy called “Richard Dare’s Venture” which was published by Merriam in 1894 with the same title.  The story features a young man who searches for work in New York City and eventually lands a role where he achieves success by creating compelling window displays for a stationery store.

For a brief time, Edward owned a stationery store himself in Newark, New Jersey.  Like his father’s tobacco store, he chose a location near the busy railroad station for one of the lines that fed into New York City.  According to his Literary Account Books, Edward wrote some stories in the store at 427 Broad Street, Newark, New Jersey.  “Richard Dare’s Venture” was written earlier, partly at home and at his brother Maurice’s tobacco and music store at 31 Broad Street, Elizabeth, New Jersey.  Perhaps in researching the story he thought that having such a store would suit him and provide a place for writing.  The one story noted as being written in his stationery store was “True to Himself” which was serialized in Argosy in 1891 and later published in book form.

427 Broad Street, Newark, NJ in 1892

Edward Stratemeyer briefly had a stationery store at 427 Broad Street, Newark, New Jersey, near the railroad station.  (North is not the top of this map image).

By 1898, Edward began to have some success in writing manuscripts specifically for book publication.  An unpublished manuscript of a long science fiction story, “Beyond the Edge of the World,” was written in 1891 but he could not secure a publisher for it.  A posthumous edition was produced by our 24 Palmer Street Press.

The first story written for book publication was sold outright to Estes & Lauriat, the first of two volumes he wrote in the Minute Boys series in 1898.  When he declined to write any further volumes, the publisher, then Dana Estes, hired “James Otis” (James Otis Kaler) to continue the series and add several volumes, much to Edward’s frustration.

Around this time he also made a connection with Warren F. Gregory of Lee and Shepard of Boston, the firm which would publish most of the books under his own name.  These expensive books for the time did not sell in very large numbers.  Even his “best seller,” Under Dewey at Manila (Lee & Shepard, 1898), sold only around 6,000 copies in the first year when it was nearest the Spanish American War events that inspired it.

Old Glory series

Five of the six volumes in the Old Glory series. The first of these, Under Dewey at Manila (1898), helped to establish Edward’s literary reputation before the public and industry.

In the following year, Edward wrote and published the first three volumes in his first truly successful series, the Rover Boys.  These were published by Mershon of Rahway, New Jersey.  The series resonated with readers with stories of school, sports, adventure, and business.  Edward wrote 30 volumes between 1899 and 1926 and the series continued to sell after his death.

Rover Boys

Sample covers of the Rover Boys series.

Among Edward’s other personal series for Lothrop, Lee & Shepard was the 15-volume Dave Porter series (1905-1919).  This had some success but the high prices for the new volumes limited their sale.  Only when they were reissued in the “special edition” at popular prices (still higher than the Rover Boys) did the books sell in larger numbers.

Dave Porter series

First edition covers for five of the Dave Porter volumes, featuring his adventures in school, as a civil engineer, and in military service.

Also in 1905, Edward formalized his Stratemeyer Syndicate.  He had acted previously as a literary agent, buying the book rights for serial stories and manuscripts and arranging for book publication.  However, he started two series for the book packager organization which established his greatest literary legacy.  The first two series, with volumes published in 1906, were the Ralph of the Railroad series and the Motor Boys series for two different publishers.  Several other volumes were also published in 1906 by the Syndicate but these had the publisher agreements, outlines, and manuscripts done in 1905.

Ralph and the Motor Boys

Ralph of the Railroad and the Motor Boys were the first two Stratemeyer Syndicate series with substantial work done in 1905 before their 1906 publication dates.

Eventually the literary legacy of Edward Stratemeyer would include many popular series produced through his Stratemeyer Syndicate would include the Bobbsey Twins (1904), Tom Swift (1910), the Hardy Boys (1927), and Nancy Drew (1930).

Bobbsey Twins

Edward Stratemeyer wrote the first Bobbsey Twins volume in 1904. Afterward, other volumes were produced through the Stratemeyer Syndicate.

Tom Swift

The Tom Swift series about a young inventor of Shopton, New York, was begun in 1910 and spanned 40 volumes through 1941. It led to the Tom Swift Jr. series which was even more successful in terms of sales and income with 33 volumes between 1954 and 1971.

Hardy Boys

The Hardy Boys was the first successful mystery series produced by the Stratemeyer Syndicate. The first three volumes were published in 1927.  The books continue to sell well today in revised editions and spin-off series.  The books have also inspired television shows and many kinds of collectibles.

Nancy Drew

With the first three volumes published days before he died, the Nancy Drew series remains Edward Stratemeyer’s most successful and enduring creation. He outlined and edited the first four volumes.

Edward wrote or was closely associated with 168 books.  However, in addition to this, he wrote many stories for the story papers, dime novels, and even several short stories.  A good number of these were under personal or house pen names.

Edward Stratemeyer Statistics

Edward Stratemeyer’s personal writing has an impressive collection of statistics.

The Stratemeyer Syndicate continued after Edward’s death in May 1930 by his daughters.

Stratemeyer Syndicate Statistics

These impressive statistics refer to the Stratemeyer Syndicate productions for the period when they were an independent entity (1905-1985).

Of course, the literary accomplishments are only a part of his legacy.  His daughters, Harriet Stratemeyer Adams and Edna Camilla Stratemeyer Squier, extended both his family and even his Syndicate.  Indeed, Harriet ran her father’s company for more than 50 years, double the amount of time that Edward was alive to run it.

Any way you look at it, Edward had an impressive legacy so it is appropriate to celebrate him on his birthday for his many achievements.

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On This Date — Sept. 28 http://stratemeyer.org/2017/09/sep28/ http://stratemeyer.org/2017/09/sep28/#respond Thu, 28 Sep 2017 08:34:55 +0000 http://stratemeyer.org/?p=36266 On any given date of the year there are dozens of letters that were composed by the Stratemeyer Syndicate or by correspondents and sent in.  This is an interesting letter from The American Boy magazine that gives a chance to explore how things were done 111 years ago. Edward Stratemeyer was more than just a writer, […]

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On any given date of the year there are dozens of letters that were composed by the Stratemeyer Syndicate or by correspondents and sent in.  This is an interesting letter from The American Boy magazine that gives a chance to explore how things were done 111 years ago.

Sept. 28, 1906 letter from J. Cotner Jr. of The American Boy to Edward Stratemeyer.

Edward Stratemeyer was more than just a writer, he treated the production and publication of books as a business in ways that few authors did at the time and for many years afterward.  Today, authors struggle to get attention for their books and the limited budgets of publishers means that a large portion of the promotional effort falls on the shoulders of the author.  This includes attending, and paying expenses for, author signing events, reaching out to an audience, and even making a website.  In the past, many authors turned in the manuscript to the publisher and let them handle all of the details of publication and promotion.

One of the ways that Stratemeyer promoted the books that he wrote and those that were produced through his Syndicate was to send out publisher brochures with his books listed.  A lucky youth would receive such an envelope with a one-cent stamp containing thin catalogs from three or four publishers.  The hope was that the youth would want some of the books for Christmas or another end-of-the-year holiday.  To achieve this, these mailings were sent out in the most opportune time — right around Thanksgiving.

Of course, producing tens of thousands of copies the catalogs in a certain size and weight with the publishers’ cooperation had to be done by a certain time.  This example from Grosset & Dunlap was described in further detail in another blog entry.

Small publisher-printed brochures like this were sent out around Thanksgiving to stimulate holiday sales of series books.

Another significant part of the process was figuring out to whom the envelopes would be sent and addressing them.  The procedure at the time seems odd today.  There were brokers of letters who would loan boxes of letters with certain criteria.  The broker would perhaps say that they had a group of 3,624 names and addresses of families in large and small cities who had their houses painted recently. 

If Stratemeyer thought the list had potential, he would rent the list and arrange to have it copied, by hand, to produce their own internal list as well as on that year’s envelopes.  Initially this work might be done by a secretary or similar kind of worker at one of the publishers.  However, before long he was having the work done by his niece, Anna H. Stratemeyer (1881-1969), the eldest daughter of Henry J. Stratemeyer Jr. (1851-1917).

When Stratemeyer had communication with a newspaper or magazine, especially one that ran one of his stories, he tried to get a list of young people who might be interested in his books.  Some publications were more willing to rent their lists than others. 

In 1906 and 1907 Stratemeyer had two serials running in The American Boy magazine.  One was one of his Horatio Alger Jr. completions, “The Young Book Agent” (Stitt, 1905).  The other was a long Civil War story that was serialized as “In Defense of His Flag.”  After the serial was done, Lothrop, Lee & Shepard published it as Defending His Flag (LL&S, 1907).  Stratemeyer had good enough relations at the time that he was able to get a promise to get a list of subscribers.

The Sept. 28, 1906 letter is related to this list of names and addresses.  Cotner mentions a “Dick Mailing Machine.”  This labor-saving device was used by companies, especially publishers of magazines, to simplify addressing of issues sent to subscribers each month.

A May 1906 issue of The American Boy with a mailing label affixed by a Robert Dick Mailer machine.

This device was pretty well known in publishing circles.  One was described in an illustrated entry in The American Encyclopaedia of Printing (1871).

The Robert Dick Mailer machine as described in The American Encyclopaedia of Printing (1871).

As with most inventions, it received a number of improvements over time.

An 1887 diagram highlighting the parts of the seventh version of the Robert Dick Mailing machine.

An antique version of the 1887 Robert Dick Mailer machine.

Some history of the company and the mailer machine is available on this blog page.

As noted, Edward Stratemeyer employed his niece to hand address the envelopes in time for the Thanksgiving mailing of his catalogs.  However, it is interesting to see how things were done by magazine publishers of the Nineteenth and early Twentieth Centuries, long before computers, printers, and adhesive labels would be used for the same purpose.

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On This Date — Sept. 16 http://stratemeyer.org/2017/09/sep16/ http://stratemeyer.org/2017/09/sep16/#respond Sat, 16 Sep 2017 10:04:02 +0000 http://stratemeyer.org/?p=36198 On any given date of the year there are dozens of letters that were composed by the Stratemeyer Syndicate or by correspondents and sent in.  This is an interesting and revealing letter from this date to a young fan. My Dear Young Friend: When writing replies to fan mail, Stratemeyer routinely addressed them in this […]

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On any given date of the year there are dozens of letters that were composed by the Stratemeyer Syndicate or by correspondents and sent in.  This is an interesting and revealing letter from this date to a young fan.

Sept. 16, 1919 letter from Edward Stratemeyer to a young fan, Richard A. Bird

My Dear Young Friend:

When writing replies to fan mail, Stratemeyer routinely addressed them in this manner.

Your letter of September 9th came to hand while I was away on a brief vacation.

Letters composed by Edward Stratemeyer on this date, September 16, frequently mention his returning from a summer trip.  Stratemeyer often took trips to cooler areas of New York, New Jersey, or Massachusetts during the summer when it was too warm to work effectively in Manhattan or at his home in Newark, New Jersey.  He saw these trips and time away from work as “A Great Mental Tonic.”  Often his letters to friends would identify the locations of his travels.  However, the extant letters do not mention where he made his September summer trip in 1919.

I thank you for all the nice things you say about my books, and especially the “Rover Boys Series.”

A sentence like this is very common in Stratemeyer’s replies to his young fans.

I am sorry you don’t like the second series quite so well as the first, and perhaps your criticism is correct and there may be too many brothers and sisters; but you would not like to have me kill some of them off, would you?

Two Generations of Rover Boys.

The original generation of Rover Boys were named Sam, Tom, and Dick.  Each married and had a total of four sons and two daughters:

  • Dick Rover and Dora Stanhope
    • John “Jack” Rover
    • Martha Rover
  • Tom Rover and Nellie Laning
    • Andrew “Andy” Rover (twin)
    • Randolph “Randy” Rover (twin)
  • Sam Rover and Grace Laning
    • Mary Rover
    • Fred Rover

Now perhaps you will allow me to do a little criticizing. For a boy who is going to become a sophomore in the high school, your letter shows quite a number of errors in grammar and capitalization.

The correspondent is actually Richard Henry Bird Jr. (1904-1974) of Arlington, Middlesex county, Massachusetts.  By 1940 he was listed as a minister.

Edward Stratemeyer graduated from his high school at the age of 16 in June 1879.  He received additional instruction in writing and rhetoric from Public School No. 3 of Elizabeth’s principal, William David Heyer.

Edward Stratemeyer graduated from high school in June 1879 when he was 16.

It would not be necessary for you to take Latin in order to become a short story writer, but Latin is very useful, as it is one of the root languages.

You ask when I first wanted to become an author. I think I must have been about six years old then I attempted to write my first story.

This story does not seem to have survived but at least one story from when he was 14 (1876) was later published and some other early fragments of stories were printed.

As to how long it takes to write a book, that depends upon circumstances. The average writer of juveniles can turn out a volume in two months or less.

Most of Stratemeyer’s ghostwriters completed stories from his outlines in four weeks or fewer.

I enclose the autograph which you desire.

Yours truly, Edward Stratemeyer — a typical signature on a letter from the 1910s.

Thank you again for your interest in my books, and wishing you every success in school and in later years, I remain,

Yours truly,

HOS

HOS indicated that this letter from 1919 was taken down in dictation and later typed by Edward’s assistant from 1914 to 1930, Harriet Otis Smith.

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Artifact — Dance Card http://stratemeyer.org/2017/02/artifact-dance-card/ http://stratemeyer.org/2017/02/artifact-dance-card/#respond Tue, 14 Feb 2017 21:41:49 +0000 http://stratemeyer.org/?p=32694 When Edward Stratemeyer was a young adult, he participated on at least one committee to organize a dance in Elizabeth, New Jersey. On the card above, the location of the Red Ribbon Club Parlors was the corner of Broad and East Grand Streets.  In the 1888 city directory for Elizabeth, the address was given as […]

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When Edward Stratemeyer was a young adult, he participated on at least one committee to organize a dance in Elizabeth, New Jersey.

Edward Stratemeyer was on a committee to organize a dance in Elizabeth, N.J. in January 1886.

On the card above, the location of the Red Ribbon Club Parlors was the corner of Broad and East Grand Streets.  In the 1888 city directory for Elizabeth, the address was given as 206 Broad Street, a few doors down from the cigar store that Edward’s father conducted and the address where he was born and lived for the early part of his life — 212 Broad Street.  By 1876, the Stratemeyer family moved their residence further from the town center at 24 Palmer Street.

Part of an 1889 Sanborn fire insurance map showing the locations of the H.J. Stratemeyer Tobacco store (212 Broad) and the Red Ribbon Club Parlors (206 Broad).

The Red Ribbon Club was founded by several of the churches of Elizabeth, N.J. with interests in “law, order and temperance.”  Here is an article from the May 26, 1890 issue of the Elizabeth Daily Journal mentioning one of their meetings.

Both the location and the temperance tenet would hold interest to the Stratemeyer family as previously noted.

The artifact considered here is a dance card from a year later.

The front of the 1887 dance card notes “Music By Stratemeyer.”  While several members of the Stratemeyer family were part of a multi-generation musical tradition, the two most likely people were Maurice H. Stratemeyer (1854-1920) or Louis C. Stratemeyer (1856-1905).

Maurice was the half brother of Edward who owned the tobacco and music store at 31 Broad Street and was the head of Stratemeyer’s Orchestra.

Edward’s brother, Louis, took over running the cigar store owned by Henry Julius Stratemeyer Sr. when he died at 212 Broad Street.  He was also a composer of poems and dozens of musical scores.

An account of a calico necktie dance from the Locomotive Engineers’ Journal, April 1898.

The front cover also identifies that this “reception” held at the Linden Club, in Linden, N.J. was to be a “Calico Necktie” affair.  Since this term is provided without explanation, it is likely that it was well understood then even if it is not so well known now.

It was usually held as a fund-raising event.  Ladies would make a dress, apron, or bonnet from a distinct pattern of calico fabric.  A necktie, usually a bowtie, would be made from the same fabric.  The latter was wrapped and placed with others.  The gentlemen in attendance would pay the admission fee and blindly pick one of the packages containing the necktie.  For the purpose of the event, they would find the lady wearing the matching pattern and they would dine and dance at least the first dance together.

Not only was Edward Stratemeyer involved in dances the year before, he was also familiar with the calico necktie events since he included a description of it in one of his “Edna Winfield” potboiler romances serialized in The Chicago Ledger and published in book form by Mershon.

Temptations of a Great City (Mershon, 1899) by “Edna Winfield” that mentions a “calico party.”

 

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Marginalia — Ed Zuckerman http://stratemeyer.org/2017/02/marginalia-ed-zuckerman/ http://stratemeyer.org/2017/02/marginalia-ed-zuckerman/#respond Sat, 11 Feb 2017 02:25:29 +0000 http://stratemeyer.org/?p=32651 Ed Zuckerman was distressed to find that the recent editions of titles he read in his youth were changed subtly or dramatically but mostly silently.  The same titles and volume numbers were being used to sell stories that were at least shorter and sometimes completely different than what had originally offered.   At the urging […]

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Ed Zuckerman was distressed to find that the recent editions of titles he read in his youth were changed subtly or dramatically but mostly silently.  The same titles and volume numbers were being used to sell stories that were at least shorter and sometimes completely different than what had originally offered.  

At the urging of its publisher, the Stratemeyer Syndicate produced revised texts for several of it major series, beginning with the Bobbsey Twins in 1950 and continuing with Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys in 1959.  Volumes were revised one or two per year until as late as 1977 for Nancy Drew.

Having made a discovery that others had also noticed, Ed went a step further and found a way to tell as many people as he could about the situation.  He wrote an article for Rolling Stone magazine that revealed his findings — “The Great Hardy Boys Whodunit” (9 Sep 1976).  Ed found the Stratemeyer Syndicate, led by Harriet Stratemeyer Adams, and most of the article features information from her in addition to his observations and mild complaints about the changes in the Hardy Boys books, especially the dramatic plot change for The Flickering Torch Mystery.

The article generated enough interest to be reprinted in several newspapers.  As a result, many people were informed about the changes in the Hardy Boys.

The title in the original text version of The Flickering Torch Mystery refers to the signal used by highwaymen robbing cars on the shore road. The revised story features stolen uranium and the title refers to the name of a rock and roll band.

 

The article came to the attention of the first Hardy Boys ghostwriter, Leslie McFarlane, and he wrote a letter of clarification that was published in a later issue of the magazine (31 Oct 1976).  In it he mentioned his then recently published memoir, The Ghost of the Hardy Boys (Methuen, 1976).

McFarlane revealed himself to the readers of Rolling Stone.

As he was preparing his article, Zuckerman marked up a 1940s copy of one of the Hardy Boys volumes to note passages that he might cite in the article.  In some cased he underlined words or drew a line next to an interesting paragraph.  In others he noted the kinds of cliffhangers used at the end of chapters or complimented the author on his pacing.

Samples of Zuckerman’s marks.

Zuckerman’s annotated copy was signed by McFarlane.

After the connection was made, McFarlane signed Zuckerman’s annotated copy, making it an association copy with marginalia.

Phil Zuckerman, the head of Applewood Books, started a project to reprint the original text Hardy Boys series and Nancy Drew series.  Ironically, he is of no relation to Ed Zuckerman.

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The Gift http://stratemeyer.org/2016/12/the-gift/ http://stratemeyer.org/2016/12/the-gift/#respond Mon, 26 Dec 2016 07:02:16 +0000 http://stratemeyer.org/?p=29064 Choosing the right gift for someone is always a challenge.  It is even more difficult when it is a gift for a business contact if you don’t know them very well. Of course sometimes the recipient returns the gift.  However, it is not very often that the recipient returns it to the presenter with a […]

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Choosing the right gift for someone is always a challenge.  It is even more difficult when it is a gift for a business contact if you don’t know them very well.

Of course sometimes the recipient returns the gift.  However, it is not very often that the recipient returns it to the presenter with a letter.

Edward Stratemeyer’s letters are, as a rule, polite and professional.  Since he was born in 1862 with fairly conservative parents who were more than forty years older than he, it is not too surprising that he would have Victorian attitudes on several topics.

Stratemeyer was a strong proponent of temperance.  He was a regular contributor to the Anti-Saloon League of New Jersey and ensured that the heroes of his stories avoided tobacco and liquor.  Early in 1916 he worked with W. Bert Foster to produce books in two series with a temperance theme, The White Ribbon Boys of Chester (Cupples & Leon, 1916) and How Janice Day Won (Sully, 1916).  Neither were strong sellers in their original editions but they reflected the views he wanted to pass along to his readers.

During this period of time, cities and towns around the United States were making choices about whether or not liquor could be sold.  These were “local option” laws in the years before National Prohibition with the Eighteenth Amendment which was ratified on January 16, 1919 and enacted exactly a year later.  It was repealed by the Twenty-First Amendment on December 5, 1933.

At the beginning of the 20th Century, several publishers wanted Stratemeyer to personally write a book for them.  He was a rising star in the juvenile literary world and as the 19th Century writers passed on or out of favor, it was well to find the next ones who would interest readers.  However, Stratemeyer had made agreements with his primary publisher of his personal writings, Lothrop, Lee & Shepard that juvenile books issued under his own name would be largely for their house.  This caused him to decline many attractive offers.  When he offered to produce books through his Syndicate under his close supervision, most declined.

Louis C. Page, a Boston publisher, was building a growing list of juvenile books such as the Little Colonel series by Annie Fellows Johnston, the books of L.M. Montgomery, and the “Pollyanna” or Glad Books series begun by Eleanor H. Porter and continued others. 

Between 1900 and 1912 Stratemeyer proposed several series to L.C. Page.  In March 1900, Stratemeyer offered to write stories under his “Bonehill” or “Winfield” names to Page as he had other publishers.  Nothing came of this.  He offered another batch of Syndicate series in April 1909, these were declined.  One of the series he proposed in October 1911 interested Page — the Pioneer Boys series.  The Syndicate produced six volumes between 1912 and 1916.

During this period Edward exchanged letters with Page both about their series and other topics such as a suggestion for the title of the second volume in the Pollyanna series (5 Jan 1915).  He also suggested some promotional items for the series, including a pennant and a pin (24 May 1913).  Stratemeyer even produced his own inspirational series that were somewhat similar such as the Janice Day (Do Something) series (1914-1919) mentioned above and the Carolyn (Look Up) series (1918-1919).  In describing these to publishers, he likened them to Pollyanna.

For Christmas 1916 L.C. Page sent Stratemeyer a gift.  His reply was an unusual one:

Your card to hand, along with a copy of The Cocktail Book.  First of all, allow me to hope that you had a Merry Christmas and that you will enjoy a Happy and Prosperous New Year.

The book, however, I am afraid I will have to return, and am doing so by this mail.  I have not used liquor for over thirty years, and do not have it in my house, so you can readily see I would have no use for The Cocktail Book.  But I appreciate the thought which prompted you to sent the gift, and I thank you for your kindness.

The book business in general, so I understand, has been very good, and I hope a fair share of sales went to the Young Pioneer series.”

By the way, I am disposing of certain odds and ends of copyright property, and would like to know if you care to make me an offer for my entire interest in the Young Pioneer series?  Will sell out for a fair price for cash.

— Edward Stratemeyer to L.C. Page, 27 Dec 1916

The message of almost exactly a century ago is firm but polite, giving the best wishes to the members of L.C. Page.  However, this along with complaints about the poor sales of the Pioneer Boys series led to poor relations.  The series was halted and Stratemeyer sold the rights to the publisher.  They hired the ghostwriter Stratemeyer used, St. George Rathborne, to add two volumes to the series in 1926 and 1928.

It is curious that he gave a somewhat specific period of time rather than simply stating “never.”  If the timeframe can be treated literally, Stratemeyer is saying that he has not had alcohol in his home since before 1886, the year he turned 24 on October 4.  His professional writing career officially began in November 1889 when  “Victor Horton’s Idea” was published.  Edward lived with his parents in Elizabeth through 1890.

Nothing further can be concluded without further evidence but it is possible that there was a time in his life when Edward was willing to imbibe.  However, when corresponding with Edna C. Swenson when she was writing a biographical essay, Edward’s daughter, Harriet Stratemeyer Adams (1892-1982), stated:

My father did not indulge in any kind of intoxicants.

— Harriet Stratemeyer Adams to Edna C. Swenson, 28 Apr 1932

Edward gave and received many gifts in his lifetime.  This is the only one known that was declined and returned.

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Happy Birthday, Harriet Stratemeyer Adams http://stratemeyer.org/2016/12/happy-birthday-harriet/ http://stratemeyer.org/2016/12/happy-birthday-harriet/#respond Sun, 11 Dec 2016 17:21:05 +0000 http://stratemeyer.org/?p=28977 This post is written on Harriet Stratemeyer Adams’ 124th birthday (eldest daughter of author Edward Stratemeyer). Edward Stratemeyer founded the Stratemeyer Syndicate in 1905. Although he had the idea earlier and wrote about the idea, the first book assignments produced through the Syndicate process were ordered in 1905 and published in 1906. He ran the […]

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This post is written on Harriet Stratemeyer Adams’ 124th birthday (eldest daughter of author Edward Stratemeyer).

Edward Stratemeyer founded the Stratemeyer Syndicate in 1905. Although he had the idea earlier and wrote about the idea, the first book assignments produced through the Syndicate process were ordered in 1905 and published in 1906. He ran the company for 25 years until his death in May 1930.

At this point, his wife Magdalene, was a semi-invalid and in no position to continue the company or even to handle the estate. This was known by Edward some time before he died and he wrote a note asking his daughters Harriet and Edna to be the executor of his estate and gave some instructions to them. He did not express any suggestion that they might continue his company, however.

Initially Harriet and Edna were consumed with the details of the estate and kept Harriet Otis Smith, Edward’s assistant since 1914, to keep the Manhattan offices open. The sisters directed Smith not to start any new business and to keep them informed of matters.

The sisters planned to find a buyer for the Syndicate and they interviewed a few people and considered others. Ultimately, they found that the business was not one that could be sold or abandoned, especially if they wanted income from the sales of the books their father had produced.

In the summer of 1930 they set out to understand the Syndicate business and make plans to continue it. This included getting advice from Smith and having meetings with the publishers Stratemeyer had been working with. There were a number of false steps but in time they started new series (like Kay Tracey and the Dana Girls) and kept many of the old ones going through the tumultuous periods of the Great Depression and World War II.

Once they had decided to continue the Syndicate, it made sense to them to move the offices from Manhattan (near the publishers) to East Orange, New Jersey (near their homes). However, Miss Smith did not care to move or commute. Her role was replaced with a new assistant, Agnes Pearson.

By 1942 Edna had moved to Florida with her husband and daughter. She participated in major business decisions but the day-to-day operation was left to Harriet. This difference became a source of disagreement between the sisters since Harriet felt that she should either be allowed to buy her sister out or receive a salary for her work.

After World War II, Harriet brought in new writers to work on the Syndicate series. One of these was Andrew E. Svenson. He had been introduced by long-time and highly-prolific Syndicate writer, Howard R. Garis. In time Svenson worked in the offices in East Orange.

The Baby Boom generation, generally children born between 1946 and 1952, started to buy and read series books in large numbers. Sales from 1956 to 1962 were very solid. After this they began to decline for all juvenile books, Syndicate and otherwise. Color TV began to call for the leisure time of young people who would have previously read series books.

The Bobbsey Twins were the first series to get significant revisions in 1950 at the suggestion of the publisher, partly to address the situation of the failure to renew the copyrights for the first three volumes. Revisions of the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew books were published in 1959 and the early volumes were redone through 1977.

And yet, the Syndicate’s core series continued through the 1960s and 1970s and all of the social upheaval occurring in them. The sales per volume declined and Harriet attributed this to a lack of promotion by Grosset & Dunlap. She tried unsuccessfully many times to renegotiate the contract in a way that would generate better sales and more income for the Syndicate. This led to accepting the overture of Simon & Schuster to issue new volumes and the 1980 lawsuit over which publishers should be able to publish the new volumes in these famous series.

Harriet died on her Birdhaven Farm near Califon, New Jersey in March 1982. The Syndicate continued for a couple years before it was sold outright to Simon & Schuster.

Edward ran his Syndicate for 25 years. Harriet was in charge of it for more than 51 years — more than double Edward’s tenure. While he probably would have been surprised by this, I can’t help but think that he would have also been proud of his daughters and especially Harriet who was the CEO of a multimedia company in a time when women were not known for doing that sort of thing.

Many people, famous and otherwise, cite the influence that Nancy Drew had on their lives. Yet, if they knew more about Harriet, they might admire her just as well.

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Association Copy — George Waldo Browne http://stratemeyer.org/2016/12/association-copy-george-waldo-browne/ http://stratemeyer.org/2016/12/association-copy-george-waldo-browne/#respond Sat, 03 Dec 2016 16:22:08 +0000 http://stratemeyer.org/?p=28870 An association copy is a book whose interest is enhanced by annotations by a creator of the work or one that has been passed from one person to another where the people have a strong connection with the work or the creator’s career overall.  ABC for Book Collectors by John Carter includes this definition and examples: […]

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An association copy is a book whose interest is enhanced by annotations by a creator of the work or one that has been passed from one person to another where the people have a strong connection with the work or the creator’s career overall.  ABC for Book Collectors by John Carter includes this definition and examples:

associationcopy

Today Edward Stratemeyer (1862-1930) is best known for the products of the organization he founded.  The Stratemeyer Syndicate (established in 1905) was the book packager, to use a modern term, that created popular series like the Bobbsey Twins, Tom Swift, the Hardy Boys, and Nancy Drew

However, he was also a prolific author on his own account with 168 books and many more stories for periodicals, including dime novels, story paper serials and short stories, and short stories for newspapers.  His longest and best-selling personally-written series was the Rover Boys (1899-1926) with some 5 million copies sold by 1937.

He was different from many of his author peers because he treated writing as a business instead of leaving his fortunes to any publisher’s actions.  He devised a number of innovative methods to promote his books.

Yet, one of the promotional methods used today, an author signing event, was something that Stratemeyer would not do.  On the two occasions when a publisher suggested that this would be an ideal way to promote his books, he sent unusually strongly-worded replies.  One included these passages:

I cannot understand why anything in my conduct should make you imagine that I would care to place myself on exhibition in a department store, like the cheap song writers, or rat trap or corset inventors. I had to read your letter three times to grasp its full importance.

… I am simply surprised beyond all measure of the impression that you should put this question up to me, knowing me as you do. You mention that this is ‘just such a selling campaign’ as I wish to conduct. Never! If it has got to depend on anything of this sort,—this cheap, clap-trap method of selling books,— count me out.

— Edward Stratemeyer to Warren F. Gregory of Lothrop, Lee & Shepard, 22 May 1913

The result of this is that books signed by Edward Stratemeyer are not found in many collections.  Although he would not do general bookstore signings or speeches in front of groups of readers, he did sign books in a few instances.

He would sign books for young people in his family, including nieces and nephews.

Edward Stratemeyer signed and presented this book to his nephew, Griffin DeLaMater.

Edward Stratemeyer signed and presented this book to his nephew, Griffin DeLaMater.

When he met young people on one of his trips he might arrange to sign a book for them upon his return.

Another category where he would sign a book was to present to a fellow author in exchange for one of that author’s books autographed.  After Horatio Alger Jr. died, Stratemeyer expressed regret that he had not obtained a book signed by the elder author.  They knew each other and had exchanged letters but clearly Stratemeyer saw a signed book as a more permanent memento.

One of Stratemeyer’s frequent correspondents was George Waldo Browne of New Hampshire.  As a fellow writer, they exchanged news of the state of the publishing industry as well as their successes and challenges.

Browne wrote the first biographical article about Stratemeyer for The Writer.  It had been written several months before.  In it he recounted a conversation with the general manager of Lee & Shepard who had asked which author of the day might take the place of the recently demised “Oliver Optic” (William T. Adams).  To this Brown replied that Edward Stratemeyer was the most likely to fill that role.

A little more than four years ago, a few months after the death of William T. Adams, whose pseudonym heads the list given above, while in conversation with the senior member of the old and highly respectable publishing house of Lee & Shepard, who have placed on the market so many excellent books for youthful readers, I was asked who there was among the young writers of juvenile stories to take the place so long filled by the late “Oliver Optic.”  I replied, without dreaming of being a prophet:  “I do not know, unless it is Edward Stratemeyer.”  Inside of a year the truth of my words was verified.  Mr. Stratemeyer, then little known to book readers, suddenly sprang to the front rank of story-tellers, and the place left by the decease of the famous “Oliver Optic” was no longer empty.

—”Edward Stratemeyer” by George Waldo Browne.  The Writer, March 1902.

Because of this endorsement, Warren F. Gregory of Lee & Shepard offered Edward Stratemeyer the opportunity to write the last announced book by “Oliver Optic,” a volume in the Blue and Gray on Land series, An Undivided Union (1899).

Edward Stratemeyer "completed" this "Oliver Optic" story in the Blue and Gray on Land series about the Civil War. Stratemeyer wrote the entire story with only a title and list of characters to work from.

Edward Stratemeyer “completed” this “Oliver Optic” story in the Blue and Gray on Land series about the Civil War. Stratemeyer wrote the entire story with only a title and list of characters to work from.

As a friend and fellow writer, George Waldo Browne was a natural for Stratemeyer to ask for an exchange of signed books.  When asked to select which title of Stratemeyer’s he wished, he stated that:

Please accept my thanks for your offer to exchange books.  I have intended to send you a copy of my Two American Boys in Hawaii, as I felt that I owed that much to you.  For personal reasons–it being the book which really “put you on your feet,” as I understand it, I shall select your Dewey book.  Later on perhaps I can make some arrangement to get your Hawaiian story.

— George Waldo Browne to Edward Stratemeyer, 19 Aug 1899.

This is the copy of Under Dewey at Manila (Lee & Shepard, 1898) that Edward Stratemeyer signed and presented to George Waldo Browne.

stratemeyer-underdeweyatmanila-signed

Edward Stratemeyer signed and presented this copy of Under Dewey at Manila (Lee & Shepard, 1898) to a fellow author, George Waldo Browne in exchange for a signed copy of one of Browne’s books.

The signed copy of Browne’s book presented to Stratemeyer, Two American Boys in Hawaii, is in a fellow collector’s library.

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As scarce as they are, not all books signed by Stratemeyer would be considered an association copy, even ones exchanged with fellow authors.  However, because of the importance of Browne’s endorsement to Stratemeyer’s career, this copy has special interest.

The post Association Copy — George Waldo Browne appeared first on Edward Stratemeyer & the Stratemeyer Syndicate.

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