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on 5 July 2008
For fans of THE HARDY BOYS, here's an account of the real writer behind the first books of the series. He's Canadian writer Leslie MacFarlane who, in his early struggling years, signed with Edward Stratemeyer's Syndicate to write novels for the juvenile market from outlines provided by the syndicate.

MacFarlane worked on more than one series but it's THE HARDY BOYS that grants him a special position in the firmament (however, ambivalent he was about it). He wrote the first ones plus most of the first 30 books and therefore laid the foundation for much of its style and characterization -- even if the plots weren't his, nor the author's name, and altho he only got a small, flat payment in return.

This book details his personal and professional life from childhood to death in 1977. Much seems to come from diaries that he kept as an adult. And some from letters he wrote to his children. While the Hardy Boys is the main motive behind this book, MacFarlane's other work -- his adult stories, his radio and television contributions -- are examined.

Be aware that MacFarlane's life had no excitement to speak of unless you consider the stress of trying to earn income and sustain his family as a freelance writer as exciting. Still, it might be inspiring not just to aspiring writers but to those who are struggling to get by in their lives.

The writing of this biography is unadorned and a bit repetitive -- sometimes, repeating itself within a couple pages. The chronology is often sacrificed as the author ties together events by theme (a not uncommon technique in biographies). Yes I found every page readable and informative.

(For more on the Stratemeyer Syndicate try the lively GIRL SLEUTH: NANCY DREW AND THE WOMEN WHO CREATED HER.)
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