Dedicated to the legacy of Edward Stratemeyer, author & founder of the Stratemeyer Syndicate

Marginalia — Ed Zuckerman

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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James D. Keeline has been researching Edward Stratemeyer and the Stratemeyer Syndicate since 1988. He has written many dozens of articles and conference presentations on these topics and has several books in progress, including a Series Book Encyclopedia, a full biography of Edward Stratemeyer, and Stratemeyer Syndicate Ghostwriters. He has also edited and published several Stratemeyer texts in illustrated and annotated editions under the 24 Palmer Street Press imprint at

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