Bobbsey Twins

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Cover of The Bobbsey Twins, circa 1908

The Bobbsey Twins are the principal characters of what was, for 75 years, the Stratemeyer Syndicate's longest-running series of American children's novels, written under the pseudonym Laura Lee Hope. The first of 72 books was published in 1904, the last in 1979, with a separate series of 30 books published from 1987 through 1992. The books related the adventures of the children of the upper-middle-class Bobbsey family, which included two sets of fraternal twins: Bert and Nan, who were twelve years old, and Flossie and Freddie, who were six.


Edward Stratemeyer is believed to be the writer of the first volume in its original form in 1904.[1] When the original series was brought to its conclusion in 1979, it reached a total of 72 volumes. At least two attempts to restart the series were launched after this, but neither effort saw the popularity the original series achieved.

Speculation that Stratemeyer also wrote the second and third volumes of the series is believed to be incorrect; these books are attributed to Lilian Garis, wife of Howard Garis, credited with volumes 4–28 and 41. Elizabeth Ward is credited with volumes 29–35, while Harriet Stratemeyer Adams is credited with 36–38, 39 (with Camilla McClave), 40, 42, 43 (with Andrew Svenson), and 44–48. Volumes 49–52 are attributed to Andrew Svenson, while 53–59, and the 1960s rewrites of 1–4, 7, 11–13, and 17, are attributed to June Dunn. Grace Grote is regarded as the author of 60–67 and the rewrites of 14 and 18–20, and Nancy Axelrad is credited with 68–72. Of the 1960s rewrites not mentioned, volumes 5 and 16 are credited to Mary Donahoe, 6 and 25 to Patricia Doll, 8–10 and 15 to Bonnibel Weston, and 24 to Margery Howard.[2]

Main characters[edit]

  • Mr. Richard Bobbsey, the owner of a lumber yard in Lakeport
  • Mrs. Mary Bobbsey, his wife, a stay-at-home mom
  • Nan Bobbsey, their elder daughter, Bert's twin. She has dark hair and dark eyes.
  • Bert Bobbsey, their elder son, Nan's twin. He has dark hair and dark eyes.
  • Freddie Bobbsey, their younger son, Flossie's twin. He has blond hair and blue eyes.
  • Flossie Bobbsey, their younger daughter, Freddie's twin
  • Dinah Johnson, the Bobbseys' cook, Sam's wife
  • Sam Johnson, the Bobbseys' handyman, Dinah's husband
  • Snoop, the Bobbseys' cat. (Snoop starts as a male cat, but is incorrectly changed to "she" after being lost to a circus in the fourth volume of the series.)
  • Downy, the Bobbseys' duck
  • Snap, the Bobbseys' dog
  • Waggo, the Bobbseys' other dog
  • Danny Rugg, the school bully
  • Charlie Mason, Bert's friend
  • Nellie Parks, Nan's friend
  • Grace Lavine, Nan's friend


Set of Bobbsey Twins books

In the original editions, the first books in the series (like those in previous Stratemeyer series) took place in a clear chronology, with the characters aging as time passed. The Bobbsey Twins: Merry Days Indoors and Out took place over the course of a school year, with Nan and Bert described as eight years old and Freddie and Flossie four. The second book, The Bobbsey Twins in the Country is set at the beginning of the following summer. The second part of the summer is chronicled in The Bobbsey Twins at the Seashore, which is written as a direct sequel to the previous book, tying up some plot threads. The fourth book, The Bobbsey Twins at School, begins the next autumn, with Nan and Bert "nearly nine years old" and Freddie and Flossie "almost five." Editors at the Stratemeyer Syndicate quickly realized, at this rate, their young heroes would quickly age beyond their readership, so the later books in the series (and revised editions) take place in a sort of chronological stasis, with the older twins perpetually 12 years old and the younger set 6.

The earliest Bobbsey books were mainly episodic strings of adventures; with the growing popularity of the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew, detective plots began to dominate the series. Few of the mysteries involved violent crime, and quite a few did not involve any crime.

While many of the early volumes were constructed from whole cloth, with little or no connection to the real world, by 1917 (The Bobbsey Twins in a Great City, vol. 9, rewritten in 1960 as The Bobbsey Twins' Search in the Great City) they visit real places, and by the 1950s (The Bobbsey Twins at Pilgrim Rock vol. 50), those visits to real places were as well-researched as any fictional visits to real places. By 1971, when the Bobbseys visited Colonial Williamsburg (The Bobbsey Twins' Red White and Blue Mystery, vol. 64), real places were depicted in meticulous detail, down to the names of well-known hotels and restaurants (and, in that particular case, the color of Colonial Williamsburg shuttle buses).

It is said[by whom?] vol. 68, The Bobbsey Twins on the Sun-Moon Cruise, was the result of a research trip for a proposed Nancy Drew book: Harriet Stratemeyer Adams and Nancy Axelrad (her personal assistant at the time) took an eclipse cruise but, when they returned, the publisher was more interested in a new Bobbsey title.

Post-1960 rewrites[edit]

In 1960, the Stratemeyer syndicate rewrote most of the older volumes, many of which became almost unrecognizable in the process. This was concurrent with the release of a new edition of the series, with picture covers, no dust jackets, and a lavender spine and back cover (replacing earlier various green bindings). Many of the cover paintings were dust-jacket paintings added in the 1950s (for earlier versions, a single common dust-jacket painting was used throughout an edition), but most were new with the "purple" edition. In all, twenty were completely rewritten, all but two with modernized titles, while sixteen were never released in this edition, evidently deemed to be dated beyond repair.[citation needed]

Most of the rewrites were motivated by changing technology (automobiles replacing horses and buggies) or changing social standards, particularly in how Sam and Dinah, the black cook and handyman, were portrayed. The Bobbsey Twins and Baby May received the most extreme rewrite; it is a story about the Bobbsey family's adventures searching for the parents of a foundling baby. Since, by the 1960s, sheer numbers of government agencies rendered the original story utterly implausible, an entirely new novel was written about the twins' adventures with a baseball-playing baby elephant (The Bobbsey Twins' Adventures with Baby May). This, however, had a ripple effect, because the original The Bobbsey Twins at Cloverbank was a sequel to the original Baby May. Thus, a second book, The Bobbsey Twins and the Four-Leaf Clover Mystery, was written. It incorporates little material from the original.[citation needed]

New Bobbsey Twins[edit]

Starting in 1987, a numbered series of paperback originals branded The New Bobbsey Twins were released by Minstrel Books, an imprint of Pocket Books. Featuring all-new stories, the series ended with volume 30, The Mystery of the Mixed-Up Mall, in 1992.[3]


In her book The Rhetoric of Character in Children's Literature, Maria Nikolajeva refers to the twins as a "simple duplication of protagonists".[4] Bobbie Ann Mason, in The Girl Sleuth: A Feminist Guide, differs, agreeing the books afford the child-reader an opportunity to imagine "a union with someone just like her, but of the opposite sex", but arguing the distinction between boy-twin and girl-twin "makes a world of difference": Bert "acts out his manhood by winning contests and beating the town bully, Danny Rugg", while his twin Nan – throughout the series "too old for dolls and pranks, too young for boys and barred from their games" – spends most of her time in the books "wagging her finger at Freddie and appearing to enjoy it", acting as "mini-parent, non-child, serious-minded little manipulator".[5]

List of 72 original books and rewrites[edit]

KEY: © = copyright renewal only; ET= expanded text; DR= documented revision; UR= undocumented revision; NE= new edition; CR=complete rewrite
Volume Original Published Title Year of Original Publication Revision History New Title Year of Retitled Publication
1 The Bobbsey Twins, or Merry Days Indoors and Out 1904 ET 1928, NE 1950, CR 1961 The Bobbsey Twins of Lakeport 1961
2 The Bobbsey Twins in the Country 1907 NE 1950, CR 1961 The Bobbsey Twins' Adventure in the Country 1961
3 The Bobbsey Twins at the Seashore 1907 NE 1950, CR 1961 The Bobbsey Twins: The Secret at the Seashore 1961
4 The Bobbsey Twins at School 1913 UR 1941, CR 1962 The Bobbsey Twins' Mystery at School 1962
5 The Bobbsey Twins at Snow Lodge 1913 © 1941, CR 1960 The Bobbsey Twins: The Mystery at Snow Lodge 1960
6 The Bobbsey Twins on a Houseboat 1915 © 1943, CR 1955
7 The Bobbsey Twins at Meadow Brook 1915 © 1943, CR 1963 The Bobbsey Twins' Mystery at Meadow Brook 1963
8 The Bobbsey Twins at Home 1916 © 1944, CR 1960 The Bobbsey Twins' Big Adventure at Home 1960
9 The Bobbsey Twins in a Great City 1917 UR 1945, CR 1960 The Bobbsey Twins' Search in the Great City 1960
10 The Bobbsey Twins on Blueberrry Island 1917 © 1945, CR 1959
11 The Bobbsey Twins on the Deep Blue Sea 1918 The Bobbsey Twins' Mystery on the Deep Blue Sea 1965
12 The Bobbsey Twins in Washington 1919 © 1947, CR 1962 The Bobbsey Twins' Adventure in Washington 1962
13 The Bobbsey Twins in the Great West 1920 © 1948, CR 1966 The Bobbsey Twins' Visit to the Great West 1966
14 The Bobbsey Twins at Cedar Camp 1921 © 1949, CR 1967 The Bobbsey Twins: the Cedar Camp Mystery 1967
15 The Bobbsey Twins at the County Fair 1922 CR 1960 The Bobbsey Twins: the County Fair Mystery 1960
16 The Bobbsey Twins Camping Out 1923 UR 1955
17 The Bobbsey Twins and Baby May 1924 CR 1968 The Bobbsey Twins' Adventures with Baby May 1968
18 The Bobbsey Twins Keeping House 1925 CR 1968 The Bobbsey Twins': The Play House Secret 1968
19 The Bobbsey Twins at Cloverbank 1926 CR 1968 The Bobbsey Twins: the Four Leaf Clover Mystery 1968
20 The Bobbsey Twins at Cherry Corners 1927 CR 1971 The Bobbsey Twins: the Mystery at Cherry Corners 1971
21 The Bobbsey Twins and their Schoolmates 1928
22 The Bobbsey Twins Treasure Hunting 1929
23 The Bobbsey Twins at Spruce Lake 1930
24 The Bobbsey Twins' Wonderful Secret 1931 CR 1962 The Bobbsey Twins' Wonderful Winter Secret 1962
25 The Bobbsey Twins at the Circus 1932 CR 1960 The Bobbsey Twins and the Circus Surprise 1960
26 The Bobbsey Twins on an Airplane Trip 1933
27 The Bobbsey Twins Solve a Mystery 1932
28 The Bobbsey Twins on a Ranch 1935
29 The Bobbsey Twins in Eskimo Land 1936
30 The Bobbsey Twins in a Radio Play 1937
31 The Bobbsey Twins at Windmill Cottage 1938
32 The Bobbsey Twins at Lighthouse Point 1939
33 The Bobbsey Twins at Indian Hollow 1940
34 The Bobbsey Twins at the Ice Carnival 1941
35 The Bobbsey Twins in the Land of Cotton 1942
36 The Bobbsey Twins in Echo Valley 1943
37 The Bobbsey Twins on the Pony Trail 1944
38 The Bobbsey Twins at Mystery Mansion 1945
39 The Bobbsey Twins at Sugar Maple Hill 1946
40 The Bobbsey Twins in Mexico 1947
41 The Bobbsey Twins' Toy Shop 1948
42 The Bobbsey Twins in Tulip Land 1949
43 The Bobbsey Twins in Rainbow Valley 1950
44 The Bobbsey Twins' Own Little Railroad 1951
45 The Bobbsey Twins at Whitesail Harbor 1952
46 The Bobbsey Twins and the Horseshoe Riddle 1953
47 The Bobbsey Twins at Big Bear Pond 1953
48 The Bobbsey Twins on a Bicycle Trip 1954
49 The Bobbsey Twins' Own Little Ferryboat 1956
50 The Bobbsey Twins at Pilgrim Rock 1956
51 The Bobbsey Twins' Forest Adventure 1957
52 The Bobbsey Twins at London Tower 1959
53 The Bobbsey Twins in the Mystery Cave 1960
54 The Bobbsey Twins in Volcano Land 1961
55 The Bobbsey Twins: The Goldfish Mystery 1962
56 The Bobbsey Twins: The Big River Mystery 1963
57 The Bobbsey Twins: The Greek Hat Mystery 1964
58 The Bobbsey Twins: The Search for the Green Rooster 1965
59 The Bobbsey Twins: Their Camel Adventure 1966
60 The Bobbsey Twins: Mystery of the King's Puppet 1967
61 The Bobbsey Twins: The Secret of Candy Castle 1968
62 The Bobbsey Twins: The Doodlebug Mystery 1969
63 The Bobbsey Twins: The Talking Fox Mystery 1970
64 The Bobbsey Twins: The Red, White and Blue Mystery 1971
65 The Bobbsey Twins: Dr. Funnybone's Secret 1972
66 The Bobbsey Twins: The Tagalong Giraffe 1973
67 The Bobbsey Twins: The Flying Clown 1974
68 The Bobbsey Twins: On the Sun-Moon Cruise 1975
69 The Bobbsey Twins: The Freedom Bell Mystery 1976
70 The Bobbsey Twins: The Smokey Mountain Mystery 1977
71 The Bobbsey Twins in a TV Mystery Show 1978
72 The Bobbsey Twins: The Coral Turtle Mystery 1979

From Weinstein's Bobbsey Twins Bibliography (list last revised September 18, 1999)[6]

In other media[edit]

Re-imagined versions of the Bobbsey twins appear in The CW drama Nancy Drew, an adaptation of another Stratemeyer Syndicate series. In the series, the twins are given the full names of Amanda and Gilbert "Gil" and are respectively played by Aadila Dosani and Praneet Akilla.[7]


  1. ^ Andrews, Dale (August 27, 2013). "The Hardy Boys Mystery". Children's books. Washington: SleuthSayers.
  2. ^ "Keeline, James D., The Writers of the Bobbsey Twins". Archived from the original on 2008-05-15. Retrieved 2008-04-14.
  3. ^ New Bobbsey Twins (1987–1992) Archived March 22, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ Nikolajeva, Maria (2002). The Rhetoric of Character in Children's Literature. Scarecrow Press. p. 278. ISBN 0-8108-4886-4.
  5. ^ Mason, Bobbie Ann (1995). The Girl Sleuth: A Feminist Guide. University of Georgia Press. pp. 35–36. ISBN 0-8203-1739-X.
  6. ^ "Weinstein's Bobbsey Twins Bibliography (The Wayback Machine)". Archived from the original on March 10, 2016. Retrieved May 18, 2019.
  7. ^ Meszaros, E.L. (March 10, 2021). "Nancy Drew: Bobbsey Twin Aadila Dosani Stirs Up Jazz in the New Season". CBR. Retrieved April 1, 2021.

Relevant literature[edit]

  • Cohen, Sol. "Minority Stereotypes in Children's Literature: The Bobbsey Twins, 1904–1968." In The Educational Forum vol. 34, no. 1, pp. 119–125. Taylor & Francis Group, 1969.
  • Johnson, Deidre. "Keeping modern amid changing times: The bobbsey twins—1904, 1950, 1961." Book Research Quarterly 6, no. 4 (1990): 31–42.

External links[edit]