Who Was Edward Stratemeyer?

By | November 10, 2019

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Edward Stratemeyer. Source: (stratemeyer.org)

Most people are familiar with the fictional characters of Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys. However, the name Edward Stratemeyer is less likely to ring a bell. So they would probably be surprised to learn that Stratemeyer was the man responsible for creating the aforementioned characters, whose books were published under the pen names Carol Keene and Franklin W. Dixon, respectively. Referred to as a children’s literature tycoon, Stratemeyer was both an author and a businessman, and he was responsible for many children’s books still popular today.

Stratemeyer was born on October 3, 1862, in Elizabeth, New Jersey. He was the youngest of six children born to German immigrants, though he was raised speaking English. He was an avid reader from an early age, with a particular interest in the stories of William T. Adams, who wrote under the pen name Oliver Optic, and Horatio Alger, Jr. As a teenager, these stories inspired Stratemeyer to write similar tales of his own. Between 1876 and 1877, his stories appeared in small papers such as Our Friend and The Young American. Even at this age, he liked to use pseudonyms, one of which was Ed Ward.

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Nancy Drew book cover. Source: (pinterest.com)

After high school, he worked in his father’s tobacco store while using the basement of the store to open his own amateur printing press and publishing several short stories including “The Newsboy’s Adventure” and “The Tale of a Lumberman.” He sold his first story, “Victor Horton’s Idea” to the periodical Golden Days in 1889. He later moved to Newark, New Jersey, where he opened a paper shop while continuing to write stories in various genres and having them published in periodicals. In 1893, he was hired to write for the Street & Smith periodical Good News, eventually working as an editor as well.