There's no mystery about who wrote the popular juvenile mysteries, The Hardy Boys. It certainly wasn't the man credited as the 'author', Franklin W. Dixon. Dixon, as most Hardy fans know, never existed. It was simply the pseudonym assigned as the author by the publishing genius, Edward Stratemeyer. The Stratemeyer Syndicate had created other popular books for kids including the Bobbsey Twins, the Rover Boys, and Tom Swift. Stratemeyer originally began writing these short novels himself but quickly resorted to using ghostwriters.
In 1926, a new series designed to appeal to young men was launched with the publication of The Tower Treasure. The Hardy Boys are two rambunctious and energetic brothers who long to be just like their dad, the famous detective Fenton Hardy. While their father is often away from their hometown of Bayport, Frank and Joe Hardy find puzzles to solve in their own neighborhood. Looking after the boys at home is their flustered and fussy, Aunt Gertrude, who just cannot corral her two charges.
Frank, as the older brother, is the more cautious of the two. Joe is more impetuous and always ready for action. Together, the Hardy brothers spend every moment they can muster hunting around Bayport for adventures. They get lots of help from their chums, too. Chubby Chet Morton, Phil Cohen, Biff Hooper and Tony Prito are often alongside Frank and Joe in search of clues.
There are also a couple of girlfriends in the Hardy's line of sight. Iola Morton has a crush on Joe and Frank has a sweetheart in Callie Shaw. However, girlfriends are always an afterthought with the Hardys. They'd much rather be out in their motorboat, aptly named The Sleuth, or driving their convertible or motorcycles while in hot pursuit of a case.
There were 58 original Hardy Boys adventures in the initial series and then 38 stories were issued in revised editions stretching to 1979. The revised stories aimed to be more politically correct by omitting racial stereotypes commonly used in the late 1920's and early '30's, as well as updating slang. Additionally, the revised Hardy Boys included new characters with more racial diversity to make the books more closely reflect the make-up of American society.
In 1979, a new series of Hardy Boys books began with The Hardy Boys Mystery Stories and from 1987 to 1998 an additional series, The Hardy Boys Casefiles was issued. The Casefiles were not only darker in spirit and tone than the original books but placed the two young detectives in direct conflict with bomb throwing terrorists and Frank and Joe even used guns to get the bad guys.
The Hardy franchise extended to a special series for younger readers in grades 3 to 5 and was published for three years from 1997 to 2000. The series included 17 books with the title of The Hardy Boys are: the Clues Brothers. The current series in publication is known as The Hardy Boys: The Undercover Brothers. Now Frank and Joe work for a special crime-fighting unit known as A.T.A.C. (American Teens Against Crime).
Aside from books, Frank and Joe have battled criminals on television in a variety of programs ranging from a serialized featurette on the Mickey Mouse Club in the mid-1950's, to a cartoon version in the late '60s, to the most recent incarnation as a live action show which ran for one season in 1995.
If you just can't get enough of the Hardy's in books and dvd's you can look forward to a new interactive computer game, The Tower Treasure, which should hit the retail stores in 2008. Everything that goes around, comes around.