Edward Stratemeyer was born in Elizabeth, New Jersey
on 4 October 1862
. His parents were German immigrants. Stratemeyer did not have a particularly interesting childhood, but the shy
child was an avid reader of adventure books, including those of Horatio Alger
and Oliver Optic
. So like many readers, he started to write his own stories, though discouraged by his parents.
His first known work was a story called "Harry's Trial" in the self-published magazine Our American Boys in
January 1883. He didn't earn enough from writing to support himself for five years after that. He spent the next few years writing and publishing short stories and dime novels, making enough of a name for himself that when Horatio Alger died in 1899, Stratemeyer got the job of completing his unfinished novels -- he wrote 11 under the Alger name, only two or three of which were probably started by Alger.
About the same time, Stratemeyer wrote the first book about The Rover Boys, three brothers who went out and got into adventures in all sorts of interesting locations. These settings and characters were popular enough that they would eventually become a 30-book series. In 1906, he started another series under the pen name Clarence Young, this one called "The Motor Boys."
Stratemyer continued writing different series under different names, including the Bobbsey Twins books. Eventually he realized he had bitten off more than he alone could chew, and formed the Stratemeyer Syndicate, essentially a group of ghost-writers who created books from Stratemeyer's outlines and published under whatever pseudonym had been attached to that particular series. The syndicate owned all rights to the books and the ghost-writers were not to give out their real names. In 1910 the syndicate was incorporated.
Stratmeyer continued to write (under approximately 65 pseudonyms) as well as edit other syndicate authors for consistency. He also battled fiercely against parodies and anyone else who he felt infringed on his intellectual property, even though the syndicate certainly exploited others' creative work. He had married Magdalene Baker VanCamp in 1891, and eventually their daughter Harriet would write for the syndicate as Carolyn Keene.
The Syndicate came out with Tom Swift, the Hardy Boys, and Nancy Drew before his death from pneumonia in 1930; he was still writing up to a week before his death. Harriet Stratemeyer Adams continued running the syndicate until shortly before her death in 1982.