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The Rover Boys Series for Young Americans was a popular children's book series of the early 20th century credited to Arthur M. Winfield, a pseudonym for Edward Stratemeyer. A total of 30 titles were published between 1899 and 1926 and the books remained in print for years forward.
The original Rover Boys were brothers Tom, Sam, and Dick Rover. Their children (Fred, son of Sam Rover; Jack, son of Dick; Andy and Randy, twin sons of Tom) took over in the "Second Series" which began with Volume 21 The Rover Boys at Colby Hall, published in 1917. The elder Rovers continued making appearances in the second series.
In addition, there was a related Putnam Hall series of six books that featured other characters from the first Rovers series although the Rovers themselves do not appear.
The Rovers were students at a military boarding school: adventurous, prank-playing, flirtatious, and often unchaperoned adolescents who were constantly getting into mischief and running afoul of authority figures as well as criminals.
Like other juvenile fiction of the era, the books often utilized exaggerated ethnic stereotypes and dialect humor. Blacks, Germans, Italians, Chinese, and Irishmen were often portrayed with unflattering dialects, which was common at the time. The books also had many heroic characters of these nationalities as well.
The legacy of the Rover Boys
- While often overshadowed by better-known and longer-running children's book series such as The Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, and Tom Swift, the Rovers were highly successful and enormously influential. Stratemeyer Syndicate juvenile series to follow.
- It was Stratemeyer's first series, and one of his favorites. Stratemeyer did all of the writing himself, rather than hiring ghostwriters.
- The Rover Boys were parodied in a 1942 Warner Bros. Merrie Melodies cartoon as The Dover Boys, subtitled "The Rivals of Roquefort Hall" (as opposed to Colby, both terms being cheeses). The cartoon was directed by Chuck Jones. The characters from this Rovers parody would go on to appear in an Animaniacs episode and in the 1996 film Space Jam.
- In the 1950s a vocal group named after the Rover Boys had a Top 20 hit single with the school-themed "Graduation Day".
- In the 1955 MGM musical It's Always Fair Weather, there are two references to The Rover Boys. The first is in the beginning of the movie when a bartender exclaims, "Well if it isn't the Rover Boys" as the three main characters walk into his bar. The second is toward the end of the movie. While trying to evade thugs, the character played by Gene Kelly borrows a jacket which has "The Rover Boys" embroidered on the back.
- The Rover Boys books were mentioned in the supernatural soap opera Dark Shadows (episode 38) where the governess Victoria Winters was searching for the books in the basement of the old mansion for her charge David Collins.
- Over a million Rover Boys books were sold and the titles remained in print by Grosset & Dunlap and later Whitman for years after the final title was published. The most commonly encountered are the green and brown cover editions published by Grosset & Dunlap in the 1910s & 1920s.
- Three-quarters of a century after embarking on their final adventures, yellowed copies of the Rover Boys books can be found in American thrift shops and flea markets.
- The names Tom, Sam and Dick Rover are mentioned by Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee in reference to a game of pretend in which Dill, Jem and Scout all had good parts.
- The 18th episode of the first season of "The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet" is titled "Rover Boys" and features a narrative driven by a disagreement between Ozzie and his neighbor Thorny over the plot of a Rover Boys story.
List Of Titles
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- The Rover Boys at School, or, The Cadets of Putnam Hall - 1899
- The Rover Boys on the Ocean, or, A Chase for a Fortune - 1899
- The Rover Boys in the Jungle, or, Stirring Adventures in Africa - 1899
- The Rover Boys Out West, or, The Search for a Lost Mine - 1900
- The Rover Boys on the Great Lakes, or, The Secret of the Island Cave - 1901
- The Rover Boys in the Mountains, or, A Hunt for Fun and Fortune- 1902
- The Rover Boys on Land and Sea, or, The Crusoes of Seven Islands - 1903
- The Rover Boys in Camp, or, The Rivals of Pine Island - 1904
- The Rover Boys on the River, or, The Search for the Missing Houseboat - 1905
- The Rover Boys on the Plains, or, The Mystery of Red Rock Ranch - 1906
- The Rover Boys in Southern Waters, or, The Deserted Steam Yacht - 1907
- The Rover Boys on the Farm, or, Last Days at Putnam Hall - 1908
- The Rover Boys on Treasure Isle, or, The Strange Cruise of the Steam Yacht - 1909
- The Rover Boys at College, or, The Right Roads and the Wrong - 1910
- The Rover Boys Down East, or, The Struggle for the Stanhope Fortune - 1911
- The Rover Boys in the Air, or, From College Campus to the Clouds - 1912
- The Rover Boys in New York, or, Saving their Father's Honor - 1913
- The Rover Boys in Alaska, or, Lost in the Fields of Ice - 1914
- The Rover Boys in Business, or, The Case of the Missing Bonds - 1915
- The Rover Boys on a Tour, or, Last Days at Brill College - 1916
The Second Rover Boys Series
- The Rover Boys at Colby Hall, or, The Struggles of the Young Cadets - 1917
- The Rover Boys on Snowshoe Island, or, The Old Lumberman's Treasure Box - 1918
- The Rover Boys Under Canvas, or, The Mystery of the Wrecked Submarine - 1919
- The Rover Boys on a Hunt, or, The Mysterious House in the Woods - 1920
- The Rover Boys in the Land of Luck, or, Stirring Adventures in the Oil Fields - 1921
- The Rover Boys at Big Horn Ranch, or, The Cowboys' Big Roundup - 1922
- The Rover Boys at Big Bear Lake, or, The Camps of the Rival Cadets - 1923
- The Rover Boys Shipwrecked, or, A Thrilling Hunt for Pirates Gold - 1924
- The Rover Boys on Sunset Trail, or, The Old Miner's Mysterious Message - 1925
- The Rover Boys Winning a Fortune, or, Strenuous Days Ashore and Afloat - 1926
Some of these books are available for download free at Project Gutenberg.
- First Series
- Dick, Tom and Sam Rover *
- Anderson, Randolf and Martha Rover *
- Lucy Stanhope
- Mary and John Laning
- Captain Victor Putnam
- Martin Harris
- Jack Wumble
- Jake Shaggam
- Ike Furner
- Minnie Sanderson *
- Dora Stanhope *
- Nellie and Grace Laning *
- Barton Pelter
- Hans Mueller *
- Frank Harrington
- Fred Garrison *
- Larry Colby *
- Harry Blossom
- Bart Conners
- George Granbury
- William "Tubby" Philander Tubbs
- John "Songbird" Powell *
- Will "Spud" Jackson
- Stanley Browne
- Bob Grimes
- Buddy Girk
- Arnold Baxter
- Andy Jimson
- Dan Baxter
- John "Mumps" Fenwick
- Josiah Crabtree *
- Jasper Grinder
- Bill Goss
- Jim Caven
- Jack Ness *
- Alexander Pop *
- Lew Flapp
- Sack Todd
- Gasper Pold
- Solly Jackson
- Tad Sobber
- Sid Merrick
- Jerry Koswell
- Bart Larkspur
- Dudd Flockley
- Jesse Pelter
- Second Series
- Jack and Martha Rover
- Andy and Randy Rover
- Mary and Fred Rover
- May Powell
- Ruth Stevenson
- Annie Larkins
- Alice Strobell
- Colonel Laurence Colby
- Barney Stevenson
- Fred Stevenson
- Giford Garrison
- Dick "Spouter" Powell
- Dan Soppinger
- Will "Fatty" Hendry
- Walt Baxter
- Ned Lowe
- Asa Lemm
- Nappy Martell
- Slogwell "Slugger" Brown, Jr.
- Slogwell Brown
- Henry "Codfish" Stowell
- Bill Glutts
- Gabe Werner
- Tommy Flanders
- Snopper Duke
- Jed Wallop
- Carson Davenport
- Joe Sedley
- Nat Durgin
- Antonino "Lefty" Ditini
- "Black" Ronumbo
- Nelson Martell
- Ken Greene
- Andrews, Dale (2013-08-27). "The Hardy Boys Mystery". Children's books. Washington: SleuthSayers.