The Hardy Boys is a juvenile detective/adventure series, chronicling the fictional adventures of teenage brothers Frank and Joe Hardy. The original Hardy Boys series was produced by Stratemeyer Syndicate, published by Grosset & Dunlap, and written by many different authors between 1927 and 1979. Leslie McFarlane was the first author to write under the pen name Franklin W. Dixon, which he did for over 20 volumes.
To this day new Hardy Boys adventures are published by Simon & Schuster's imprint, Aladdin Paperbacks in The Hardy Boys Undercover Brothers series, The Hardy Boys Undercover Brothers Super Mystery series, and the Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys Super Mystery series. A graphic novel series based on the novels has been published since 2005 by Papercutz (with permission from Simon & Schuster).
The Hardy Boys
is a creation of the Stratemeyer Syndicate
, the creators of dozens of successful book series such as the Rover Boys
, the Bobbsey Twins
and Tom Swift
, and later, Nancy Drew
. Edward Stratemeyer
conceived of the Hardy Boys in 1926 with the creation of plot outlines that would become the first volume of the series. Various ghostwriters
were employed, under contract of secrecy, to pen the actual stories. The first author was Leslie McFarlane
, whose writing defined the literary style of the series, as well as the personalities and nuances of its characters. McFarlane authored volumes 1–16 and 22–24. His 1976 autobiography, Ghost of the Hardy Boys
, provides substantial background information on the series, as well as the Stratemeyer Syndicate as a whole.
Substantial revisions to the first 38 titles began in 1959. Over the course of 15 years the series was revised to modernize outdated vernacular, reduce story length, age the characters and remove the ethnic and racial stereotypes prevalent in many of the early books (although the series was unusually inclusive for the era in having two non-WASP Hardy sidekicks who were portrayed as normal, fully assimilated teenagers—Tony Prito and Phil Cohen). The result of this process varied from one book to another. In some cases only minor changes resulted, while in others the entire plot and storyline were thrown out, resulting in an entirely new book bearing no resemblance to the original.
In 1979, after 52 years and 58 titles (plus the didactic Hardy Boys' Detective Handbook), Grosset & Dunlap lost the rights to publish any new Hardy Boys tales in a protracted court battle with the Syndicate. They did retain the right to continue publishing these 58 titles and continue to do so to this day, despite several changes in ownership. In the meantime, Simon & Schuster continued the series in the Hardy Boys Digest series of paperback books. In 2005 the venerable Digest series was ended with volume 190 and a new series, The Hardy Boys: Undercover Brothers, was started. The Undercover Brothers series is supplemented by a series of graphic novels and, initially, a now-discontinued series of comic books. Also in 2005 Grosset & Dunlap gained permission to continue publishing more titles in hardcovers, starting with Digest volumes 59 to 66.
The Hardy Boys also appeared in several spin-off series: The Casefiles (127 volumes), the Clues Brothers (17 volumes), with Tom Swift in the 2 volume Ultra-Thriller series and with Nancy Drew in the 36 volume Supermystery series & the 6 volume Be Your Own Detective series and in the Hardy Boys & Nancy Drew Super Mysteries.
Hardy Boys books have been issued in over 25 languages, including Norwegian, Spanish, Swedish, Dutch, French, German, Sinhala, Japanese, Russian, Malay, Afrikaans and Italian.
The Hardy Boys are brother amateur detectives, aspiring to follow in their famous father's footsteps. Frank Hardy
is the elder of the two and has dark hair. Joe Hardy
is the younger brother, and has blond hair and blue eyes. The stories are an unaging series, in which Frank and Joe are always 18 and 17 years of age, respectively. The boys are in the same school grade in the books, due to a year in which Frank was ill with scarlet fever
and missed a year of school. In the original series the brothers were a younger 16 and 15 years of age, but their ages were increased during the revision process that began in 1959. The series utilizes a "floating timeline
", in which events always take place in the present day.
The two boys live in the fictional city of Bayport (on Barmet Bay) with their famous father, Fenton Hardy, a private detective formerly with the New York Police Department, their mother Laura Hardy (erroneously called Mildred in The Flying Express), and their Aunt Gertrude, a character often used for comic relief.
Frank's longtime platonic girlfriend is Callie Shaw, while Joe is often linked with Iola Morton, the sister of the duo's good friend Chet Morton, who is described as being a large boy who loves to eat,and is always finding another hobby in each of the different books, providing another comic relief character. Other friends who assist the brothers include Phil Cohen, Biff Hooper, Jerry Gilroy and Tony Prito.
The Bayport Police Department is represented by Police Chief Ezra Collig (in Flying Express he is called Chief Finch), a close friend of the Hardys who constantly asks their assistance and advice in dealing with crime in Bayport.
Detective Oscar Smuff is sometimes seen in cases as he comically blunders trying to solve a mystery.
In the older stories, the Hardy Boys' cases often are linked to the confidential cases their detective father is currently working on. He sometimes asks them for help, while at other times they stumble upon villains and incidents that are connected to his cases.
The Hardys have a motorboat named the Sleuth and a yellow convertible (In volumes 1–6, they use motorcycles, but this changes when Joe's is destroyed in The Shore Road Mystery,though they both receive updated models in Undercover Brothers ). Mr. Hardy has an airplane, which is described in some books as being twin-engined, single-engined in others. Chet Morton has a jalopy called the Queen, which is at times described as being tomato red, other times being bright yellow (in The Shore Road Mystery it is green). Biff Hooper has a jalopy, Tony Prito has a motorboat called the Napoli and drives his father's pick-up truck.
In 1987, a spin-off series, The Hardy Boys' Casefiles, targeted at older readers, was introduced. Consisting of 127 volumes, these stories were much darker in tone and featured plots involving bioterrorism and other kinds of terrorism, espionage, government conspiracies, cults, militia groups and organized crime. They also featured a level of violence unseen in previous Hardy Boys stories, a fact that became evident to readers in the opening pages of the first book in the series as long time supporting cast member Iola Morton was murdered by a bomb planted in the Hardys' car.
The (original) Hardy Boys Mystery Stories (1927–1979)
The first 58 stories along with the Detective Handbook are considered by most collectors to form the Hardy Boys canon. Generally speaking, the 1959-1973 revisions of the first 38 titles and the 1972 revision of the Detective Handbook are not considered originals, though some consider these 39 rewrites part of the canon.
The Hardy Boys Mystery Stories ("Digests") (1979–2005)
This now-discontinued series of paperbacks started in 1979 as a continuation of the hardcover books, hence the volume numbers start as #59 and ended in 2005 with volume 190.
Volumes 59 through 85 were also released in hardcover with a dustjacket.
In 2005, Grossett & Dunlap released hardcover versions of volumes 59 through 66. These volumes were in the blue glossy flashlight cover format, similar to the original 58 covers. The artwork on these books was from the original Wanderer paperback covers, although severely cropped to fit the covers. To date, there is no news about plans for further Grossett & Dunlap hardcover versions.
The Hardy Boys Casefiles (1987–1998)
The list of Casefiles is below:
The Hardy Boys are: The Clues Brothers (1997–2000)
The Clues Brothers books were aimed at younger readers, particularly in third and fourth grades. The series was introduced in 1997 and was cancelled in 2000 for lack of popularity.
This series had some big differences from the other Hardy Boys books, such as:
- The Hardy Boys don't solve major crimes as they do in the others.
- In these books, Frank and Joe are only 9 and 8, unlike the other books where they are 18 and 17.
- They go to Bayport Elementary School; in the others, they go to Bayport High School.
The Hardy Boys: Undercover Brothers (2005-Present)
"The Hardy Boys: Undercover Brothers" is a series of paperback books which replaced the Digest paperbacks in early 2005.
The Hardy Boys are now agents of A.T.A.C. (American Teens Against Crime) and are solving more realistic and/or violent crimes.
This series is written in first-person narrative style with Frank and Joe alternating chapters.
Spy Set - Box set of volumes 1–4 (2005)
Undercover Brothers Special Ghost Stories Edition
Haunted - 2008
Undercover Brothers Super Mysteries (2006-Present)
- 1. Wanted - 2006
- 2. Kidnapped at the Casino - 2007
Undercover Brothers Graphic Novels (2005-Present)
The Undercover Brothers also appear in a series of graphic novels
- 1. The Ocean of Osyria - 2005
- 2. Identity Theft
- 3. Mad House
- 4. Malled - 2006
- 5. Sea You, Sea Me
- 6. Hyde & Shriek
- 7. The Opposite Numbers
- 8. Board To Death - 2007
- 9. To Die Or Not To Die
- 10. A Hardy Day's Night
- 11. Abracadeath - 2008
- 12. Dude Ranch O' Death!
- 13. The Deadliest Stunt
- 14. Haley Danelle's Top Eight
- 15. Live Free, Die Hardy!
- 16. Shhhhhh! - 2009
The Hardy Boys teamed up with two other series book protagonists; Nancy Drew
and Tom Swift
Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys Be a Detective Mystery Stories (1984-1985)
This series is the most different from any other Hardy Boys series because in these books the reader controls the outcome of the story by choosing different options of advancing the plot (similar to the Choose Your Own Adventure
- 1. The Secret of the Knight’s Sword
- 2. Danger on Ice
- 3. The Feathered Serpent
- 4. Secret Cargo
- 5. The Alaskan Mystery
- 6. The Missing Money Mystery
Two more titles were planned but never published:
- 7. Jungle of Evil
- 8. Ticket to Intrigue
The Hardy Boys teamed up with Nancy Drew in this 36 volume series of paperbacks.
The Carolyn Keene house name was used for this series and the stories are more geared toward Nancy Drew fans.
Hardy Boys and Tom Swift Ultra Thriller Series (1992–1993)
The two volume Ultra-Thriller series was a short-lived Hardy Boys spin off that joined boy inventor Tom Swift with the crime
-solving Hardy Boys, Frank & Joe. Although the Franklin W. Dixon pseudonym
was used, the series was more akin to the then-current Tom Swift IV
- 1. Time Bomb
- 2. The Alien Factor
Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys Super Mystery Series (2007-Date)
The Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys Super Mystery
books are a new series first published in June 2007 and are not to be confused with the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys SuperMystery
series that was published between 1988 and 1998.
This is a spin-off series of the Nancy Drew: Girl Detective series and The Hardy Boys: Undercover Brothers series, and is narrated in the same way as both the Girl Detective and the Undercover Brothers series; first person.
- 1. Terror on Tour - 2007
- 2. Danger Overseas - 2008
- 3. Club Dread - 2009
Their have been many Hardy Boys spin-off books and minor series over the years.
The Hardy Boys Handbook: Seven Stories of Survival (1980)
Not to be confused with The Hardy Boys Detective Handbook
, The Hardy Boys Handbook: Seven Stories of Survival
was first published in 1980
by Wanderer Books (an imprint of Simon & Schuster
) and contains seven short stories, about 30 pages long. Survival instructor Sheila Link is listed as co-author of this book, but it is doubtful she had much to do with writing it.
Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys Super Sleuths (1981-1984)
The first Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys Super Sleuths
book was published in 1981
with the sequel published in 1984
. Both volumes contain seven short stories with Nancy Drew and the Hardy boys working together and are written under the pen-name of Carolyn Keene
and Franklin W. Dixon
. Both books were published under Simon & Schuster’s Wanderer Books imprint.
- Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys Super Sleuths - 1981
- Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys Super Sleuths #2 - 1984
Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys Campfire Stories (1984)
This book was first published by Wanderer Books in 1984 and like the Super Sleuth books, Carolyn Keene
and Franklin W. Dixon
listed as co-authors. National Director of Program Services, Camp Fire, Inc, Karen W. Bartz wrote a foreword for this book. Carolyn Keene and Franklin W. Dixon also wrote a foreword.
The Hardy Boys Ghost Stories (1984)
This was first published in 1984 by Simon & Schuster under their Wanderer Books, and then in 1987
by their Minstrel Books imprint. In 2002
it was published yet again by another Simon & Schuster imprint; Aladdin paperbacks. Because there were so many re-prints, several (four) different editions with different cover art exist.
The Hardy Boys have appeared in television
shows five times.
In the late 1950s, Disney
contracted with the Stratemeyer Syndicate
to produce two Hardy Boys TV serials, starring Tim Considine
and Tommy Kirk
. In 1955
, The Mystery of the Applegate Treasure was made, based on The Tower Treasure
. The second serial, The Mystery of the Ghost Farm was released in 1957
. Both aired on the Mickey Mouse Club.
, an hour-long pilot of a new Hardy Boys TV show was aired on CBS
, starring Tim Matthieson
(later Matheson) as Joe Hardy and Rick Gates
as Frank. But the show was not popular and the series wasn't continued. The pilot was closely adapted from The Mystery of the Chinese Junk
The Hardy Boys animated series (1969-1971)
ran a Saturday Morning cartoon
series (produced by Filmation
In this series the Hardy boys are in a rock band and use it as a front to investigate mysteries.
The animated series produced two bubblegum music albums released by RCA: Here Come The Hardys and Wheels. Several singles from the albums were also released.
The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries (1977-1979)
The Hardy Boys & Nancy Drew Mysteries
was an ABC prime time
series starring Parker Stevenson
and Shaun Cassidy
that first aired on Sunday, January 30
. The Hardy Boys alternated with Nancy Drew, and once every fifth week in January and February 1977 with The Brady Bunch Hour
. In the second season, the Hardys were joined by Nancy Drew
(played by Pamela Sue Martin
and, later, Janet Louise Johnson
) for some episodes. Nancy was dropped altogether in the fall of 1978. The show went for three seasons with forty-six episodes, including 28 Hardy Boys episodes, 10 Nancy Drew only episodes, and 8 Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew cross-over episodes; the show went off the air in January 1979
Most of the Hardys' friends never made regular appearances in the show, although Chet Morton did show up twice in the first season, while Callie Shaw was featured as Fenton’s part-time office assistant.
Seasons one and two have been released on DVD. During the 1988 writers strike, there was talk that NBC would use the series scripts and film new episodes. It never came to pass.
The Hardy Boys (1995)
a TV show simply called The Hardy Boys
staring Colin Gray and Paul Popowich
was produced and syndicated by New Line Television
, a division of New Line Cinema
. The show was co-produced by Nelvana Ltd. and Marathon Productions, S.A. in association with Westcom Entertainment Group Ltd. of Canada
The same company also produced a Nancy Drew series and the two shows were normally booked into a one hour time slot together. Both series were also produced in French and shown in France and French-speaking Canada.
In this series Frank (Colin Gray) works for a newspaper and Joe (Paul Popowich) is a college student. The show only lasted one season with 13 episodes and one episode crossed over with Nancy Drew.
TV Show Memorabilia
The Mickey Mouse Club series, the animated series and the 1970s ABC-TV series were responsible for the creation of many items of Hardy Boys memorabilia
such as board games
, comic books
, jigsaw puzzles
and other items.
The Hardy Boys are parodied in the episode Mystery of the Urinal Deuce
as the "Hardly Boys". Interestingly, the names are switched for the boys (Frank is blond, Joe has black hair).
Both the titular brothers are obvious parodies of Frank and Joe. However, neither of them are nearly as grounded, capable or intelligent as their inspirations -- despite being in plenty of mysteries (three seasons worth), they've yet to solve one. (Of course it should be noted that the Venture Bros universe is not shown as being very realistic.)
Tom Cruise has been talking with Ben Stiller about starring in an updated version of "The Hardy Boys" at Twentieth Century Fox. Tentatively titled "The Hardy Men"
The Hardy Boys have appeared in two games in the Nancy Drew PC games series by Her Interactive. They appeared Last Train to Blue Moon Canyon (2005) and then in 2006 for the first time as playable characters in The Creature of Kapu Cave. They have been in the recent installments as phone characters only.
The Hardy Boys PC Games (2008-Present)
JoWooD and The Adventure Company, announced on September 26, 2007 that they have entered into a partnership with Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing to develop a series of interactive games based The Hardy Boys. The titles will release worldwide over the next five years. The first title, The Hidden Theft (originally entitled The Tower Treasure) is about a theft that leads the Hardys to New York and more.
- 1. The Hidden Theft - September 2008
The Hardy Boys For Nintendo DS (beginning 2009)
Hardy Boys games are being created for Nintendo DS by Herinteractive in partnership with Sega:
- 1. Treasure on the Tracks - March 2009
The Hardy Boys On-Line Games (beginning 2009)
A Hardy Boys Undercover Brothers live-action game will soon be available on-line at mypkids.com:
- 1. Deadly Choice
The Hardy Boys have appeared in other places: A video based on the Hardy Boys was created by the popular online comedy duo Barats and Bereta
. Luke Barats (who played Frank) and Joe Bereta (who played Joe) starred in "Harty Boys" (according to the theme song, the name change was to avoid copyright infringement.) They attempted to solve The Riddle of the Woman, but they failed and Frank killed himself in despair.
- Billman, Carol; The Secret Of The Stratemeyer Syndicate
- Carpentieri, Tony; Frank & Joe Turn Blue
- Carpentieri, Tony & Mular, Paul; Hardy & Hardy Investigations
- Connelly, Mark; The Hardy Boys Mysteries, 1927–1979, A Cultural and Literary History
- Garis, Roger; My Father Was Uncle Wiggily
- Greenwald, Marilyn S.; The Secret Of The Hardy Boys
- Johnson, Diedre; Stratemeyer Pseudonyms and Series Books
- Johnson, Diedre; Edward Stratemeyer and the Stratemeyer Syndicate
- McFarlane, Leslie; Ghost of the Hardy boys; an autobiography
- Prager, Arthur; Rascals At Large