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Glossary and Character Taxonomy  Breakdown by Country of Origin   Bibliography   Table of Contents    The Best of the Encyclopedia

Rover Boys. The Rover Boys were created by “Arthur Winfield,” a pseudonym of Edward Stratemeyer (Baseball Joe, Hardy Boys, Minute Boys, Motor Boys, Dave Porter, Russell Brothers, Ted Scott, Speedwell Boys, X Bar X Boys) and appeared in the thirty-book “Rover Boys” series, beginning with The Rover Boys At School, or, the Cadets of Putnam Hall (1899) and concluding with The Rover Boys Winning a Fortune, or, Strenuous Days Ashore and Afloat (1926).

The Rover Boys are Tom, Dick, and Sam Rover, three brothers who get into any number of interesting scrapes and adventures while always fighting for right and helping people. Dick is the oldest of the three. He is sober, industrious, hard-working, and the leader. Tom is the middle brother, fun-loving and possessed of an appetite for practical jokes that usually strays into the sadistic. Sam is the youngest, a sturdy and earnest boy. The Rovers are always active, trying to help people.

Unfortunately, this often brings them into conflict with bullies, at Putnam Hall, Brill College, and around the world. Some of these bullies are simply boys who the Rovers didn't cotton to, while others are malicious or possibly bent on rape. Still others were bad guys in the Victorian and pulp tradition, like Josiah Crabtree, a teacher at Putnam who turned out to be a hypnotist and crime lord and who opposed the boys in several novels. Among the other highlights of the Rovers' career: they find buried treasure in the West Indies, which they give the widowed mother of their friend Dora; they travel to Alaska in search of an amnesiac Tom; and they travel to Wall Street, where crooked financiers are trying to bankrupt Anderson. Among their other vehicles was the Dartaway, a "modern, up-to-date biplane."

* I'm including the Rover Boys noels in the Best of the Encyclopedia list because they are the archetypal children's book series heroes. The Rover Boys novels were quite popular, and the series had a surprisingly long lifespan--surprisingly long for the children's book series. The books haven't aged well; Stratemeyer was a mediocre writer (though a good ideas man and a ruthless businessman) even by the standards of the 1890s, and today his writing seems crude and basic, even primitive. But the books were quite effective in imparting adventurous thrills and a late-Victorian and Edwardian morality to their audience. That they are forgotten about now doesn't mean they weren't important in their day. Which they were. 

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