Hardy perennial

CBC reports that the papers of Leslie McFarlane are on their way to a new home. Who is Leslie McFarlane and why should we care? Well, the answer is in one of the more interesting ‘literary footnotes’ that I had forgotten about.

Remember the Hardy Boys? Written by the famous author Franklin W. Dixon, as announced on the cover. Well, no. Dixon was a pseudonym used by various authors as part of the Stratemeyer Syndicate (read here for more information or look it up on the Guide) and McFarlane was one of them; he wrote almost half of the ‘original’ series, and even chipped in a few other stories under the name of Carolyn Keene (another group-pen-name, and ‘author’ of the Nancy Drew series and other books).

The footnote to the footnote is that (despite the joys of copyright law, ‘rewarding the author’ and all that) McFarlane got a small upfront fee: as he apparently said, “I never did learn what the W (in Franklin W. Dixon) represented. Certainly not Wealthy.” (Source: Salon.com) Perhaps the archive – and the many PhDs and books that will come from easy access to his material at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario (Canada) – will contribute to a recognition of McFarlane’s contribution. I read virtually every Hardy Boys book as a much-younger reader (hey, we didn’t have the Internet in those days!) and never even suspected that Dixon had a plural existence. How about putting the real authors on future reprints, perhaps?

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