Thursday, October 4, 2012

Edward Stratemeyer created The Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, Tom Swift, The Bobbsey Twins

Edward Stratemeyer
It is the birthday of  writer and publisher Edward Stratemeyer (1862), who created numerous juvenile fiction series, including The Rover Boys (1899), The Bobbsey Twins (1904), Tom Swift (1910), The Hardy Boys (1927), and Nancy Drew (1930).

For 78 years, Stratemeyer's organization, Stratemeyer Literary Syndicate, produced these enormously popular adventure books. In 1978, Stratemeyer Literary Syndicate was sold to Simon and Schuster, which continues to publish several of the series.

Inspired by the books of Horatio Alger, Jr. that he had read through childhood, young Edward started writing his own stories as a youngster. He even gained access to a small printing press and printed off a few copies of his stories following the format of the popular children's story papers of the era.

Even as he worked in the family tobacco shop after high school, Edward wrote out stories on store wrapping paper. His father didn't think much of the endeavor and suggested his time could be spent more profitably. Edward submitted his story to Golden Days, a weekly Philadelphia story paper, and when he showed his father a check for $75 he had received for it, his father exclaimed, "Well, you'd better write a lot more of them."

Edward Stratemeyer did but he quickly learned that in the publishing business the owner of the copyright was the one who made the real money. He began contracting with publishers for numerous titles in a series then hiring writers to write books under pseudonyms based on his outlines. He, of course, retained the copyrights.

In the process, he established one of the first "book packaging" businesses, a practice that still exists today. In his heyday, Stratemeyer was dreaming up the ideas for story series, contracting with writers and illustrators to produce them and delivering them complete to publishers. Then he would develop the marketing to promote them.

Stratemeyer died in 1930 and his two daughters, Harriet Stratemeyer Adams and Edna Stratemeyer Squier, continued to run the business. In 1942, Edna moved with her family to St. Petersburg but continued a role as a silent partner in the company, involved in major decisions. Edna made a substantial donation to the Pinellas Child Guidance Clinic (now Suncoast Center) and the clinic building at 4032 Central Avenue was dedicated as the Edward Stratemeyer Memorial, in memory of her father.

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