meet-carolyn-keene

Did you know that Happy Hollisters author “Jerry West” and Nancy Drew author “Carolyn Keene” were good friends? It’s true, and we have proof!

In fact, as many fans of The Happy Hollisters already know, “Jerry West” and “Carolyn Keene” weren’t real people, but pen names used by the Stratemeyer Syndicate, the book packaging outfit that developed the series. Stratemeyer children’s series, like Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys, The Bobbsey Twins, and The Happy Hollisters, were designed to be written by ghostwriters. They were published under pseudonyms to allow new volumes to be added to the series for many, many years.

Carolyn Keene was the older of the two “authors.” Edward Stratemeyer, founder of the Syndicate, created Nancy Drew in 1930 as an alternative to the boy’s series that were popular at the time. He intended to hire ghostwriters to complete manuscripts based on outlines he provided, all of whom would use the pen name “Carolyn Keene.” Shortly after the release of the first volume, The Secret of the Old Clock, Edward Stratemeyer died, leaving his company in the hands of his daughters, Harriet Adams and Edna Squier.

Harriet, who within a few years bought her sister’s share in the company, continued to write detailed outlines for new Nancy Drew volumes. The titles were then assigned to a series authors who assumed the persona of “Carolyn Keene,” including Mildred Wirt Benson and Walter Karig.

In 1948, Harriet hired a young journalist named Andrew Svenson to write Bobbsey Twins books as “Laura Lee Hope.” Once he developed a winning track record with the Bobbseys, Svenson was entrusted to write the outline for Nancy Drew volume 30, The Clue of the Velvet Mask. The full manuscript was then written by Mildred Wirt Benson as “Carolyn Keene.” His own series, The Happy Hollisters, under the new pseudonym “Jerry West,” was started the same year.

Andrew Svenson had come to the Stratemeyer Syndicate after nearly 20 years as a reporter and editor for the Newark, NJ, newspaper. As an experienced writer, editor, and proofreader, his fingerprints made their way onto on many Stratemeyer projects, from brainstorming titles to copyediting. His collegial relationship with Harriet Adams developed into trusted confidence and close friendship. He eventually managed the Boys’ Series Division and Harriet rewarded him with partnership in 1960. They remained good friends until his death in 1975.

Visit TheHappyHollisters.com to learn more about the Classic Nancy Drew Mystery Series and The Classic Nancy Drew Book Club!

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