History of the Hardy Boys Canon
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Beginning in 1959, the first 38 volumes were systematically revised. This massive project, completed in 1973, was directed by Harriet Adams, Edward Stratemeyer's daughter. The revision project had numerous results:
- Shorter books (180 pages instead of 225, 20 chapters instead of 25)
- Streamlined writing style (sometimes at the cost of humor, charm, and believability!)
- Elimination of racial stereotypes (for the most part)
- Modernization (no more roadsters and automats)
- Consistency of premises (Frank and Joe no longer gradually age from 15/16 to 17/18)
- Consistency of interior layout (the same typeface is used in all revised books)
- Newfound respect for officers of the law
- Deflation of Aunt Gertrude's character (see the Aunt Gertrude page)
The degree and type of revisions varied. I've grouped them into four categories, in increasing order of severity:
- Same story, same text: Most of the original text remains intact, with pieces cut or slightly altered here and there (example: The Phantom Freighter).
- Same story rewritten: The basic framework of the plot is the same, but the text has been completely (or almost completely) rewritten (example: The Tower Treasure).
- New story, old ideas: The book has been completely rewitten, and the plot is not the same, but some elements are retained, such as names, capers, episodes, or locations. (Examples: The Twisted Claw retains many elements, such as the Parrot freighters, the pirate empire, and the Caribbean island. The Sinister Signpost retains the racehorse named Topnotch and Aunt Gertrude's inheritance of a stable of racehorses, but their relevance to the story is completely changed.)
- New story, new ideas: The book has been completely rewitten and shares no elements with its predecessor (example: The Flickering Torch Mystery).
Information about the revision of specific books can be found on the Revisions page. For a discussion of the general themes, see the Revision themes page in the Literary Info section.
The Canon today
In 1979, Grosset & Dunlap lost the Hardy Boys publishing contract, as the Stratemeyer Syndicate switched to the greener pastures of Simon & Schuster. However, after a battle in the courtroom, Grosset & Dunlap won the right to continue publishing volumes 1-58.
In 1987, the books were switched to a laminated plastic cover format, which is more durable than the former picture covers (and also more gaudy). A beam of light from a flashlight has been adopted as the new symbol for the Hardy Boys, and for this reason, the laminated covers are often referred to as "flashlight covers."
Although Simon & Schuster went on to publish many more Hardy Boys books than Grosset & Dunlap did, something was lost in these modern editions, and many fans feel that only the original 58 Grosset & Dunlap books are "real" Hardy Boys stories. For this reason, collectors often refer to the original 58 volumes as the Hardy Boys "Canon".