The Bobbsey Twins Series

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The Bobbsey Twins Series

The Bobbsey Twins was the longest-running children's book series in the twentieth century. From 1904 to 1992, over one hundred volumes about the two sets of Bobbsey twins appeared. The series won a large audience among children not quite ready for the Hardy Boys (see entry under 1920s—Print Culture in volume 2) or Nancy Drew (see entry under 1930s—Print Culture in volume 2) series of adventures.

Beginning with The Bobbsey Twins; or, Merry Days Indoors and Out (1904), the series depicted the adventures of two sets of twins: Freddie and Flossie Bobbsey and their older brother and sister, Nan and Bert. Especially in the early volumes, the adventures were fairly tame, usually involving travel to places like the seashore, the mountains, or a big city. The fair-haired Freddie and Flossie were four years old in the early books and then six years old in later books. Sometimes the younger twins got into some real danger. Other times, all that would happen was that someone's doll would go missing or the family cat would get stuck in a tree.

The dark-haired older twins, Nan and Bert, were eight years old in the early books and twelve years old in the later books. The older twins were more obedient and responsible and got into less trouble. Bert sometimes had to fight bullies like Danny Rugg, but everything always ended happily. The overall impression expressed by the books was of an almost perfect world with only very minor and easily solved problems. The twins' well-to-do parents gave them everything they asked for. As Bobbie Ann Mason says in The Girl Sleuth, the twins' life was like one long vacation.

The apparent author of the Bobbsey books was Laura Lee Hope, but in fact there was no Laura Lee Hope, just as there was no Franklin W. Dixon writing the Hardy Boys books and no Carolyn Keene writing about Nancy Drew. All these authors' names were the invention of Edward Stratemeyer (1862–1930), who set up a syndicate (a group of writers) at the beginning of the twentieth century to produce The Bobbsey Twins and dozens of other series.

After 1950, the syndicate began revising some of the early Bobbsey books to update them and remove negative portrayals of minority groups. The syndicate also began issuing new volumes in which the twins solved mysteries and had more exciting adventures. However, sales began to fall off, and no further books were issued after 1992. Perhaps The Bobbsey Twins were too much an expression of a more innocent time that had passed away.

—Sheldon Goldfarb

For More Information

The Bobbsey Twins' Page. (accessed February 20, 2002).

"Hope, Laura Lee." In Something About the Author: Facts and Pictures about Contemporary Authors and Illustrators of Books for Young People. Vol. 67. Detroit: Gale, 1992.

Johnson, Deidre. Edward Stratemeyer and the Stratemeyer Syndicate. New York: Twayne, 1993.

Mason, Bobbie Ann. "Bobbsey Bourgeois." In The Girl Sleuth: A Feminist Guide. Old Westbury, NY: The Feminist Press, 1975.

Stratemeyer Syndicate. The Bobbsey Twins. (accessed February 20, 2002).