Rover Boys

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The Rover Boys on the Farm, 1908, first edition cover

The Rover Boys, or The Rover Boys Series for Young Americans, was a popular juvenile series authored by Arthur M. Winfield, a pseudonym for Edward Stratemeyer, and published by Stratemeyer Syndicate. Thirty titles were published between 1899 and 1926 and the books remained in print for years afterward.[1]

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) became the main characters of the "second series" that began with Volume 21, The Rover Boys at Colby Hall, published in 1917. The elder Rovers continued making appearances in the second series.

Additionally, 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 frequently causing mischief for authorities as well as criminals.

The series often incorporated novel technology of the era, such as the automobile, airplanes (The Rover Boys in the Air) and news events, such as World War I.

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 Rover Boys in Southern Waters, 1907
Image appearing on DJVU page 6 (frontispiece) of Rover Boys on Land and Sea. (1903)
  • While there are better-known and longer-running juvenile series such as The Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, and Tom Swift, the Rovers were very successful and influential. They established the template for all later Stratemeyer Syndicate series.[1]
  • It was Stratemeyer's first series, and one of his favorites. Stratemeyer did all of the writing himself, rather than hiring ghostwriters.[1]
  • The Rover Boys were parodied in a 1942 Warner Brothers 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 later appear in an Animaniacs episode and in the 1996 movie Space Jam.
  • In the 1950s a vocal group named after the Rover Boys had a Top 20 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.
  • More than 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 during the 1910s and 1920s.
  • The names Tom, Sam, and Dick Rover are mentioned by Scout in Harper Lee's novel To Kill a Mockingbird 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 concerning the plot of a Rover Boys story.


  1. The Rover Boys at School, or, The Cadets of Putnam Hall - 1899
  2. The Rover Boys on the Ocean, or, A Chase for a Fortune - 1899
  3. The Rover Boys in the Jungle, or, Stirring Adventures in Africa - 1899
  4. The Rover Boys Out West, or, The Search for a Lost Mine - 1900
  5. The Rover Boys on the Great Lakes, or, The Secret of the Island Cave - 1901
  6. The Rover Boys in the Mountains, or, A Hunt for Fun and Fortune- 1902
  7. The Rover Boys on Land and Sea, or, The Crusoes of Seven Islands - 1903
  8. The Rover Boys in Camp, or, The Rivals of Pine Island - 1904
  9. The Rover Boys on the River, or, The Search for the Missing Houseboat - 1905
  10. The Rover Boys on the Plains, or, The Mystery of Red Rock Ranch - 1906
  11. The Rover Boys in Southern Waters, or, The Deserted Steam Yacht - 1907
  12. The Rover Boys on the Farm, or, Last Days at Putnam Hall - 1908
  13. The Rover Boys on Treasure Isle, or, The Strange Cruise of the Steam Yacht - 1909
  14. The Rover Boys at College, or, The Right Roads and the Wrong - 1910
  15. The Rover Boys Down East, or, The Struggle for the Stanhope Fortune - 1911
  16. The Rover Boys in the Air, or, From College Campus to the Clouds - 1912
  17. The Rover Boys in New York, or, Saving their Father's Honor - 1913
  18. The Rover Boys in Alaska, or, Lost in the Fields of Ice - 1914
  19. The Rover Boys in Business, or, The Case of the Missing Bonds - 1915
  20. The Rover Boys on a Tour, or, Last Days at Brill College - 1916
Second series
  1. The Rover Boys at Colby Hall, or, The Struggles of the Young Cadets - 1917
  2. The Rover Boys on Snowshoe Island, or, The Old Lumberman's Treasure Box - 1918
  3. The Rover Boys Under Canvas, or, The Mystery of the Wrecked Submarine - 1919
  4. The Rover Boys on a Hunt, or, The Mysterious House in the Woods - 1920
  5. The Rover Boys in the Land of Luck, or, Stirring Adventures in the Oil Fields - 1921
  6. The Rover Boys at Big Horn Ranch, or, The Cowboys' Big Roundup - 1922
  7. The Rover Boys at Big Bear Lake, or, The Camps of the Rival Cadets - 1923
  8. The Rover Boys Shipwrecked, or, A Thrilling Hunt for Pirates Gold - 1924
  9. The Rover Boys on Sunset Trail, or, The Old Miner's Mysterious Message - 1925
  10. The Rover Boys Winning a Fortune, or, Strenuous Days Ashore and Afloat - 1926
Putnam Hall series

Some of these books are available for download free at Project Gutenberg.

Main characters[edit]

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
Phil Franklin
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


  1. ^ a b c Andrews, Dale (2013-08-27). "The Hardy Boys Mystery". Children's books. Washington: SleuthSayers. 

External links[edit]