View Full Version : McMaster gets archives of Canadian Hardy Boys author

Steve Lenaghan
12-20-2006, 04:14 AM
A good argument for a good agent and lawyer.

The library at McMaster University (http://dailynews.mcmaster.ca/story.cfm?id=4410)in Hamilton, Ont., has obtained the diaries, correspondence and early material of Leslie McFarlane (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leslie_McFarlane), author of 21 of the Hardy Boys books.

McFarlane, a freelance writer based in Haileybury, Ont., wrote the Hardy Boys books under the pseudonym Franklin W. Dixon.

The series, which began in 1927 and ended in 1979 after 58 books, followed the sleuthing escapades of teenage brothers Frank and Joe Hardy, helped by their father Fenton, a private detective.
Included in the archives to be held at McMaster are first editions of The Secret of the Caves and The Tower Treasure, the first book in the series.
"McFarlane's diaries, photographs, and other documents represent a wealth of primary research materials for scholars and the educated public," Carl Spadoni, McMaster's research collections librarian, said.
"The archives are thoroughly Canadian in character, but they also have broad, international appeal."

Spadoni says the university, which already has an archive of McFarlane's papers donated after his death in 1977, plans to acquire early editions of all of McFarlane's books.
McFarlane was born Oct. 25, 1902, in Carleton Place, Ont., and moved to Haileybury with his family so his father could take a job as principal of the local high school.
He began working as a reporter in 1919 for the Cobalt Daily Nugget.
He began writing children's adventure books for publisher Edward Stratemeyer under the pseudonym Roy Rockwood, first penning a book in the Dave Fearless adventure series.
He wrote seven books in the Dave Fearless series before Stratemeyer invited him to try his hand at another series about two juvenile detectives.
He wrote the first 21 books in the Hardy Boy series, at $100 a manuscript, setting the character and style of the series. As a ghostwriter, he was bound by contract not to reveal his connection to the books.
Under the pen name Carolyn Keene, he also wrote four books in the Dana Girls series.
McFarlane received no royalties for the books, which have sold millions. The last Hardy Boys book he wrote, The Phantom Freighter, was published in 1946.
McFarlane went on to become an editor at Maclean's magazine, a screenwriter, producer and director for the National Film Board of Canada, head of the TV drama script department at CBC and a scriptwriter for the TV program Bonanza.
He was nominated for an Academy Award in 1953 for his documentary Herring Hunt, made while he was with the NFB.
McFarlane died in Whitby, Ont., in 1977.

12-20-2006, 04:26 AM
The bits you highlighted in red were particularly fascinating, but I really enjoyed the whole article. He only made $100. Even back in those ancient times, that wasn't a lot of money for a book, I don't think. The lack of royalties is surprising. it also isn't the only instance of that which I've heard, not in older stories. If I recall, Bob Kane made extremely little money when he sold rights to his character called "Batman," but I think that was a little different than this. He was only fourteen at the time.

A. Hamilton
12-20-2006, 06:15 AM
Interesting, in this Wiki entry (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carolyn_Keene), I counted fourteen different writers ghostwriting under the name Carolyn Keene. (for not only the Dana Sisters but the Nancy Drew series.)
I read all of the first run of Nancy Drew books, I had no idea so many authors contributed.
But at least Leslie McFarlane is getting some much deserved acknowledgement (even if it is post mortum).

12-20-2006, 08:36 AM
I feel honoured- I have been to Carleton Place. In fact, I have relatives there. Of course, the area is known for its great storytellers and talkers..*ahem* We had a family reunion and someone thought it was a PC party convention! yikes.
I loved all those stories: Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, and don't forget: the Bobbsey Twins! All excellent sleuthing stories, I still love that type of story.

12-20-2006, 03:04 PM
This is also a good place to mention that writers should follow their bliss. McFarlane hated every word he put to paper when it came to the Hardy Boys. He did it to feed his family. In his diary he said, 'I will never write another juvenile book.' Then he would run out of money and write another. I guess you have to do what you have to do...but he seemed miserable about doing the Hardy Boys. He once called it BUNK.

12-20-2006, 04:53 PM
I have a limited knowledge of the series, and even less knowledge about the original author. I wonder:

a) perhaps way back then, CND100 was actually worth quite a bit in terms of purchasing power parity or what it could buy, compared to what the same amount of money can buy today?

b) did he produce them quickly? Despite hating them, I surmise that he produced them rather quickly, given the financial imperative.

c) if this didn't lead eventually to other, better paying work? From the brief biography, it seems as though it did. If so, I would guess (hope)that he managed to feed his family, and more...

d) did he later kick himself that he had not retained rights etc. to the books series, despite then working in film and television?

Steve Lenaghan
12-20-2006, 05:14 PM
Newspapers were 3 cents, I remember getting papers for my grandfather in 1950. He gave me a nickle and I could get penny candy with the change.

$100 then would be worth $1400 (http://woodrow.mpls.frb.fed.us/Research/data/us/calc/)now

I spent my summers in the Laurentians (50's), reading at night under the covers with a flashlight from a box of Hardy Boy books.

Well at least he didn't self publish, but that's another story.

Azure Skye
12-20-2006, 07:12 PM
I read Girl Sleuth, Nancy Drew and the Women Who Created Her recently. It was very interesting to learn of the Stratemeyer Syndicate and all of the efforts he went through to create the juvenile books -- all of them, not just ND. After he died, his daughter took over the syndicate and continued with the ghost writing practice. I would love to read the diaries of this McFarlane fellow. I bet they're interesting.

Steve Lenaghan
12-20-2006, 07:39 PM
I would love to read the diaries of this McFarlane fellow.

Link to University added in original post.