Thirty Years Of Hardy Boys

Mar 6, 2019

This HPPR Radio Readers BookByte compares selections from the 1932 and 1962 editions of While the Clock Ticked.
Credit Wikipedia

Hello, this is Steve Johnson, and my topic for the Radio Readers Book Club is the original Hardy Boys Mystery Series.  The Hardy Boys series was launched by Edward Stratemeyer of the Stratemeyer Syndicate in 1927 under the author name of Franklin W. Dixon.

The series would be penned by several ghostwriters over the first forty years, but the first, and arguably the best was Leslie McFarlane, a young Canadian who was working as a reporter for a small-town newspaper in Massachusetts in 1926 when he answered an ad in the trade journal "Editor and Publisher" seeking fiction writers to work from publisher's outlines.

After writing a few of the Dave Fearless books as Roy Rockwood, Jr., McFarlane received a letter from Stratemeyer describing a new series to be called the Hardy Boys along with a contract for the first three books. Beginning with "The Tower Treasure," McFarlane penned the series until 1946 when he submitted his last Hardy Boys manuscript for Stratemeyer, "The Phantom Freighter."

The quality of McFarlane's writing and the warm and descriptive language is a reminder that mass-produced fiction is not necessarily artless. The downside to the original books is they contain racial and social stereotypes that modern readers may be uncomfortable with.

In 1959, the Stratemeyer Syndicate decided to revise the original Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew books both to streamline them to less than 200 pages and "modernize" them for the post-nuclear age. Some called it an act of literary vandalism.  

In some cases, the original stories were gutted and rewritten. The Syndicate soft-pedaled the radical surgery being done on the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew books. When opening up a revised edition of an older (pre-1959) title, readers of Nancy Drew were informed that "This new, modern story, based on the original title, 'The Secret of the Old Clock,' has been written for the enjoyment of the girl of today." Hardy Boys readers were given the explanation that the new revised titles enabled Franklin W. Dixon to "give his readers the most up-to-date methods of crime detection.

I'm going to conclude this presentation with a brief reading from Chapter 1 of the original 1932 edition of "While the Clock Ticked" followed by the same from the revised 1962 version.