Sunday, October 5, 2014

"It is not economical to go to bed early to save the candles...

 if the result is twins. ~Chinese Proverb

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the Grace Harlowe book series, and I realized, after bringing in some more of these types of books, that I never really knew who the Bobbsey twins were.  For some reason, I had never read these, and I do not remember the series in my children's lit courses either.  So, here is the scoop on this series.
Once again, the author is a pseudonym.  Laura Lee Hope never existed.  The first was written in 1904 by Edward Stratemeyer - the purveyor of so many of these book series.  He then turned it over to ghost writers with outlines.  In researching him, I found that he did write The Rover Boys under the pseudonym of Arthur M. Winfield. There were 30 volumes, written between 1899 and 1926. The Bobbsey Twins series was next and is the oldest "surviving" series, extending to 72 volumes, written between 1904 and 1979. Tom Swift, attributed to Victor Appleton, began in 1910, and there were 40 volumes before the series ended in 1941. (There was also a Tom Swift, Jr. series.) The Hardy Boys (85 volumes from 1927 to 1985) and Nancy Drew (78 volumes from 1930 to 1985) are the other best-known Stratemeyer books.

Original writers included both men and women: Lilian Garis and Howard Garis, Elizabeth Ward, and Harriet Adams, Andrew Svenson wrote from 1904-1948, and then June Dunn, Grace Grote, and Nancy Axelrad were writers from 1953-1972.

From another source, the family is described as living in the "eastern city" of Lakeport, which is clearly in the Northeast because it snows a lot there, at the head of Lake Metoka. Mr. Bobbsey is a prosperous lumber merchant. Mrs. Bobbsey is a housewife. Bert and Nan are the older twins, and Flossie and Freddie are the younger set.  They also had a "Negro" cook and critics label them "upper middle class."

The books are never impacted by current events...no wars...no Depression...life was good in Lakeport!  The Bobbseys never age. Bert and Nan in the first book (1904) are about 8 years old and Freddie and Flossie are about 4. According to some summaries I read, the first few books are written in "real time," which is to say that the action of one follows immediately after its predecessor. The Bobbsey Twins takes place during a school year, The Bobbsey Twins in the Country concerns the first half of the summer vacation, and that vacation concludes in The Bobbsey Twins at the Seashore, then The Bobbsey Twins at School. During those books the Bobbsey twins aged normally. Stratemeyer must have realized that his twins were soon going to be too old for the books, for suddenly they stopped aging. Over the years Bert and Nan grew to be twelve and Flossie and Freddie became 6, but with all the years that went by, the family never grew older."  (Maybe we should all be Bobbseys! )
Maybe this winter you might want to pick up one of these old books just for giggles and grins...
as C.S. Lewis wrote, 
 “No book is really worth reading at the age of ten which is not equally – and often far more – worth reading at the age of fifty and beyond.”  

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