Tuesday, June 14, 2022

My earliest mysteries

The real author behind the pseudonym Franklin W. Dixon describes the genesis of the first Hardy Boys book (1927):
.... What Stratemeyer had in mind was a series of detective stories on the juvenile level, involving two brothers of high school age who would solve such mysteries as came their way. To lend credibility to their talents, they would be the sons of a professional private investigator, so big in his field that he had become a sleuth of international fame. His name—Fenton Hardy. His sons, Frank and Joe, would therefore be known as…

The Hardy Boys! ....

He had attached an information sheet for guidance and the plot outline of the initial volume, which would be called The Tower Treasure. In closing, he promised that if the manuscript came up to expectations—which were high—I would be asked to do the next two volumes of the series.

The background information was terse. The setting would be a small city called Bayport on Barmet Bay “somewhere on the Atlantic Coast.” The boys would attend Bayport High. Their mother’s name would be Laura. They would have three chums: Chet, a chubby farm boy, humorist of the group; Biff Hooper, an athletic two-fisted type who could be relied on to balance the scales in the event of a fight; and Tony Prito, who would presumably tag along to represent all ethnic minorities.

Two girls would also make occasional appearances. One of them, Iola Morton, sister of Chet, would be favorably regarded by Joe. The other, Callie Shaw, would be tolerated by Frank. It was intimated that relations between the Hardy boys and their girl friends would not go beyond the borders of wholesome friendship and discreet mutual esteem. ....

From my boyhood reading I recalled enjoying any scenes that involved eating. Boys are always hungry. Whether the outline called for it or not, I decided that the Hardy boys and their chums would eat frequently. When Laura Hardy packed a picnic lunch the provender would be described in detail, not only when she stowed it away but when the boys did. And when the boys solved the mystery of the theft, Hurd Applegate wouldn’t stop at a mere cash reward. He would come up with a lavish dinner, good for at least two pages of lip smacking. Maybe even belches. .... (more)

The book itself as a pdf.
Leslie McFarlane, "The Birth of the Hardy Boys," CrimeReads, June 14, 2022.

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