Stratemeyer Syndicate

The Stratemeyer Syndicate was a "book packager" established in 1905 to supply publishers with juvenile and adult books in series.  It was the brainchild of Edward Stratemeyer (1862-1930) who was a writer and editor of juvenile stories.  As a boy, Stratemeyer enjoyed the works of Horatio Alger, Jr. and "Oliver Optic" (William T. Adams).  Towards the end of the nineteenth century when he was establishing his literary reputation, he was asked to "complete" books under these authors' names.  He wrote one book as "Oliver Optic" and eleven books as "Horatio Alger, Jr."  

Throughout his life, Edward Stratemeyer used several pseudonyms to disguise his writing.  The earliest of these were "Ed Ward" and "Robert Rollic" which were used for short stories in amateur story papers.  When he wrote his first long story, "Victor Horton's Idea," the original manuscript used his "Arthur M. Winfield" pen name even though it was published in Golden Days under his legal name.  This pseudonym was used for a number of his periodical stories but is best known for its use on The Famous Rover Boys series which he began in 1899 and continued through 1926.

Stratemeyer had many books published under his own name with Lee & Shepard and its successor, Lothrop, Lee & Shepard, of Boston.  However, these books did not sell as well as the books which Stratemeyer wrote and had published by cheaper publishers under pseudonym.  In a short time, he realized that he could offer more books each year if he dealt with several publishers and had the books published under a number of pseudonyms which he controlled.  He also purchased previously-published periodical stories with an intent to have them published as books.

The next logical step involved a process which was quite common in the story paper periodical industry for which he had been a writer and editor.  He would serve as editor and assign stories to hired writers who would work from an outline he supplied.

The first book produced under this new system was Ralph of the Railroad (Cupples & Leon, 1906), the first book in the Ralph series under the "Allen Chapman" pseudonym.  The writer who received the assignment was Weldon J. Cobb (1849-1922), a dime novel writer, journalist, and real estate agent who lived in Chicago.

Around the same time, Howard R. Garis (1873-1962) was assigned to write the first book in the Motor Boys series which was published the same year.  Howard Garis became a close personal friend to Stratemeyer and wrote a phenomenal number of books for the Syndicate along with thousands of short Uncle Wiggily stories for the newspapers and many dozens of books published under his own name and pseudonyms he owned.

Garis wrote stories in some of the Syndicate's most popular series, like the Bobbsey Twins and the Tom Swift series.  In later years the Syndicate would offer the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew series, some of the most popular books ever created aside from the current Harry Potter phenomenon.

About This Web Page

This web page is designed to allow me to share my Stratemeyer Syndicate research with the Internet community.  It is not the only one to be sure and you can see others on the Links page but it will contain some information which is not available elsewhere.  If you want to use something, please ask me first or simply refer people to one of my pages.

James D. Keeline