Cheeseburger Gothic

The Hardy Boys Dark secret revealed

Posted March 22, 2014 into Books by John Birmingham

The author was a committee!

Franklin W Dixon is the name on the spine, but that was a convenient cover for hungry writers press ganged into churning out the multimillion selling titles for less than a hundred bucks a pop. There was one guy in particular, Leslie MacFarlane who wrote a lot of the early titles and did his best to introduce some literary merit into the series - all to no avail. He hated the books so much he would never even refer to them by name.

It's a great story, told by Jeff Stone over at, and I dips me lid to Beeso for the heads up:

Leslie McFarlane kept voluminous diaries. His family has them. He wrote in fountain pen, in elegant strokes that squirreled up a little when he was touched by despair or drink. In these diaries, “The Hardy Boys” is seldom mentioned by name, as though he cannot bear to speak it aloud. He calls the books “the juveniles.” At the time McFarlane was living in northern Ontario with a wife and infant children, attempting to make a living as a freelance fiction writer.

Nov. 12, 1932: “Not a nickel in the world and nothing in sight. Am simply desperate with anxiety. . . . What’s to become of us this winter? I don’t know. It looks black.”

Jan. 23, 1933: “Worked at the juvenile book. The plot is so ridiculous that I am constantly held up trying to work a little logic into it. Even fairy tales should be logical.”

Jan. 26, 1933: “Whacked away at the accursed book.”

June 9, 1933: “Tried to get at the juvenile again today but the ghastly job appalls me.”

Jan. 26, 1934: “Stratemeyer sent along the advance so I was able to pay part of the grocery bill and get a load of dry wood.”


“Stratemeyer wants me to do another book. . . . I always said I would never do another of the cursed things but the offer always comes when we need cash. I said I would do it but asked for more than $85, a disgraceful price for 45,000 words.”

Statemeyer said no.

21 Responses to ‘The Hardy Boys Dark secret revealed’

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted March 22, 2014

I've never read a Hardy Boys book. I've seen them, but I thought they were thinly disguised gay erotica.

Not that there is anything wrong with that.

insomniac would have you know...

Posted March 22, 2014

As in "Hardy Drew and the Nancy Boys"?

NBlob is gonna tell you...

Posted March 22, 2014

& the sleepy one wins the intermanetz, again.

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Barnesm mutters...

Posted March 23, 2014

"The Hardy Boys Dark secret revealed" we planted those drugs.

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Trashman mumbles...

Posted March 24, 2014

When I was young I read both The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew books. They were so similar in style I always thought they were written by the same person.

However, the best series I read back then was the 'Three Investigators' series that was 'written' by Alfed Hitchcock. I picked up one out of nostalgia a couple of years ago and I still en joyed it enough that I picked up the rest via abebooks over the follwoing few months. Great stuff - far superior to the Hardy Boys.

Barnesm puts forth...

Posted March 24, 2014

It was a simpler time, now there would be some marketing genius who would be pitching a cross-propmotional book where their investigations would cross over.

and don't even consider what the slash/fan fiction would be if these series were written today.

anyone else remember the TV series they made of the Hardy Boys?nancy Drew mysteries back in the 1970s?

Lulu asserts...

Posted March 24, 2014

I loved the Three Investigators.

John Birmingham is gonna tell you...

Posted March 24, 2014

Yeah, they rocked.

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Paul_Nicholas_Boylan reckons...

Posted March 24, 2014

Okay, if we are gonna get all nostalgic about this stuff, The Mad Scientists' Club by Bertrand R./ Geer Brinley (1965) did it for me when I was of that age. Mystery solving bunch of precocious small town American kids.

Barnesm swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted March 24, 2014

I was a big fan, I seem to recall reading some of the stories in copies of the American Boy scouts magazine that were around the scout hall. Went to track them down in book form. A much ahrder task in those days before Amazon.

BigWillieStyle ducks in to say...

Posted March 24, 2014

It was snotty little British kids for me. The Secret Seven. The Seven were constantly solving mysteries before the Chief Inspector had the first fucking clue what was going on. Now that I think about it, he was either (a) totally incompetent, or (b) on the take with the local ruffians and crime lords. If it was (b), he probably would've had the Seven rounded up and sent them to sleep with the fishes. This never happened, so I'll go with (a). A clear example of a public servant promoted once too often.

insomniac would have you know...

Posted March 24, 2014

And who can forget Encyclopedia Brown?

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan has opinions thus...

Posted March 25, 2014

It seems like I have completely forgotten Encyclopedia Brown.

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S.M. Stirling reckons...

Posted March 24, 2014

I read 'em when I was about 8, 9. Then I progressed to Edgar Rice Burroughs. The Frazetta covers, anatomically impossible though the women were, didn't hurt.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan has opinions thus...

Posted March 24, 2014

Didn't hurt? For me Frazetta was the reason I initially discoved Burroughs. I entered for the Frazetta. I stayed for the Pellucidar.

As for his Mars stories, yours are better. (No, NBlob, I'm not kissing ass. They are better - even if, as is likely, the man is unwilling to admit it.)

NBlob would have you know...

Posted March 24, 2014

*** Warning. I try to maintain a MA15+ level, so as to support a welcoming & friendly ambience, but this may dip below the navel***

It cracks me up when *people* use the terms "Unrealistic portrayal of women" or "anotomically impossible." For the slow kids in the back of the room; It's Fantasy Art Dumbarse! Did you critique the muscle masses on the Hydra or the wing span -mass ratio of the faeries? No because they are Fantastical creatures. Just like the Buxom Barsoomian princesses. Who by the way often had dimply butts and boobs that were easing towards thier armpits, eminently realistic from my *ahem* limited experience of looking at such. Far far far more realistic than Any of the women's Mags on the newstand. And while we are at it, who the righteous Frack thought that Conan's "walnuts in a condom"* biceps were realistic?

I don't know what impact Mr Frazetta had on yoof's body dismorphic conditions, but I know, with a dull aching certainty, the impact he had on my pants.

Purely in the name of research I urge you to point your peepers @

@PNB SIr While I disagree with your ass-kissing, I will defend To My Death, your right to kiss any & every ass may wish to kiss.

*TM Clive James

NBlob mutters...

Posted March 24, 2014

As a post script;

After further research I now have a more clear understanding of my fascination with Big Strong Girls.

Dino not to be confused with reckons...

Posted March 24, 2014

You know Frank did a song about Frank-

"You Make Me Feel so Young"

Don't go to the inferior versions by modern 'Artistes'.

How can a Canadian Production Company fuck up so many good songs?

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Barnesm mumbles...

Posted March 24, 2014

any fans of the series True Detective out there, here it is as filtered through the Hardy Boys books.

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