the don sturdy series
by Victor Appleton

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"Every red-blooded boy will enjoy the thrilling adventures of Don Sturdy. In company with his uncles, one a big game hunter, the other a noted scientist, he travels far and wide - into the jungles of South America, across the Sahara, deep into the African jungle, up where the Alaskan volcanoes spout, down among the head hunters of Borneo and many other places where there is danger and excitement. Every boy who has known Tom Swift will at once become the boon companion of daring Don Sturdy."
Grosset & Dunlap advertisement of the era

Don Sturdy - The Boy Adventurer

Don Sturdy Ad As the series opened, Don was living in Hillville, New York with his paternal uncle, Captain Frank Sturdy - big game hunter and adventurer, and his maternal uncle, Professor Amos Regor Bruce - scientist and general all-around know-it-all. Rounding out the household was Mrs. Roscoe the housekeeper and her husband - who functioned as the chauffeur and man-of-all-work. Completing this menage was a wacky, spaced-out, gum-snapping maid named Jenny Jenks who, upon rare occasions, would cease listening at keyholes and actually perform her duties. Initially an interesting grotesque, Jenny's role was expanded until the later books had entire chapters devoted to her mangled use of the language, a device which quickly grew rather tiresome.

Poor Don was an orphan. His mother, father and sister vanished while sailing around Cape Horn. In order to ease his pain, Don's uncles took him with them to Algeria in the first volume of the series (On the Desert Of Mystery). There he encountered his red-headed sidekick for the duration of the series, Teddy "Brick" Allison. In the course of this adventure they rescue Teddy's pop and find out from him that (gasp!) Don's family may have indeed survived the shipwreck and be lost somewhere in Brazil (a mere 1000 miles or so from Cape Horn!)

Of course, the next volume (With The Big Snake Hunters) finds Don and his uncles in Brazil hunting for snakes and they run into Don's sister down there (amazing huh?). Seems that Don's pop became a trifle addled from a knock on the noggin and rushed off into the night to go to Egypt. Don's mom hot-footed it right after him leaving poor sis to fend for herself.

Fortunately for all concerned, the third volume (In The Tombs Of Gold) finds Don and his uncles in the land of the Pharaohs, lured there by a belated telegram from Mrs. Sturdy. Mr. Sturdy still can't seem to be located and this seems to have worried Mrs. Sturdy so much that she neglected to drop a line earlier, just to let her family know she wasn't quite dead yet! Nevertheless, her brother and son refrain from having this imbecile woman institutionalized and hunt about the ancient land until Mr. Sturdy finally turns up in a musty old tomb (which, by amazing coincidence, was being searched for by Professor Bruce!)

That could have ended the series then and there but good old Edward Stratemeyer was not a man to let a profitable series die after only three volumes, so he just rolled up his sleeves and had Don and his uncles traipsing all over the globe in search of lost cities and specimens. I've always felt the discovery of Don's parents took the edge off the series somewhat and apparently Stratemeyer also did and didn't make the same mistake in the Bomba series. Poor Bomba had to search for his parent through 20 volumes!

The formula for a Don Sturdy book is as follows:

Don's uncles are discussing another expedition. Don keeps hocking them to tag along. They hem and haw and finally leave the decision up to Don's mom and dad (only after volume 3 of course!), who dither a while before finally consenting. At the same time, the eavesdropping maid, Jenny Jenks, relates a highly distorted version of the story in the most mangled English possible to the housekeeper, Mrs. Roscoe. Teddy Allison shows up (for most of the stories anyway) and off they go in search of adventure! On the way to wherever they are going, they encounter a terrible storm, during the course of which Don has to save someone's life and maybe give a sharpshooting exhibition as well. When they finally do arrive, the journey is beset by every trial and tribulation that the fevered brains of Stratemeyer's ghostwriting legion can dream up. They, of course, triumph over all odds and the end of every volume finds them safely on their way back to good old Hillville, none the worse for wear.

Click on any image to enlarge it.

On The Desert Of Mystery Autoing In The Land Of Caravans

01: Don Sturdy On The Desert Of Mystery
       or, Autoing In The Land Of The Caravans
Published: 1925
Author: John W. Duffield
Art: Walter S. Rogers
Total Volumes Sold: 110,518

With The Big Snake Hunters Lost In The Jungles Of the Amazon

02: Don Sturdy With The Big Snake Hunters
       or, Lost In The Jungles Of the Amazon
Published: 1925
Author: John W. Duffield
Art: Walter S. Rogers
Total Volumes Sold: 98,269

In The Tombs Of Gold The Old Egyptian's Great Secret

03: Don Sturdy In The Tombs Of Gold
       or, The Old Egyptian's Great Secret
Published: 1925
Author: John W. Duffield
Art: Walter S. Rogers
Total Volumes Sold: 91,786

Across The North Pole Cast Away In The Land Of Ice

04: Don Sturdy Across The North Pole
       or, Cast Away In The Land Of Ice
Published: 1925
Author: John W. Duffield
Art: Walter S. Rogers
Total Volumes Sold: 86,659

In The Land Of Volcanoes The Trail Of The Ten Thousand Smokes

05: Don Sturdy In The Land Of Volcanoes
       or, The Trail Of The Ten Thousand Smokes
Published: 1925
Author: John W. Duffield
Art: Walter S. Rogers
Total Volumes Sold: 81,243

In The Port Of Lost Ships Adrift In The Sargasso Sea

06: Don Sturdy In The Port Of Lost Ships
       or, Adrift In The Sargasso Sea
Published: 1926
Author: John W. Duffield
Art: Walter S. Rogers
Total Volumes Sold: 78,781

Among The Gorillas Adrift In The Great Jungle

07: Don Sturdy Among The Gorillas
       or, Adrift In The Great Jungle
Published: 1927
Author: John W. Duffield
Art: Walter S. Rogers
Total Volumes Sold: 73,550

Captured By Head Hunters Adrift In The Wilds Of Borneo

08: Don Sturdy Captured By Head Hunters
       or, Adrift In The Wilds Of Borneo
Published: 1928
Author: John W. Duffield
Art: Walter S. Rogers
Total Volumes Sold: 54,938

In Lion Land The Strange Clearing In The Jungle

09: Don Sturdy In Lion Land
       or, The Strange Clearing In The Jungle
Published: 1929
Author: John W. Duffield
Art: Walter S. Rogers
Total Volumes Sold: 41,593

In The Land Of Giants Captives Of the Savage Patagonians

10: Don Sturdy In The Land Of Giants
       or, Captives Of the Savage Patagonians
Published: 1930
Author: Howard Garis
Art: Walter S. Rogers
Total Volumes Sold: 31,395

On The Ocean Bottom The Strange Cruise Of The Phantom

11: Don Sturdy On The Ocean Bottom
       or, The Strange Cruise Of The Phantom
Published: 1931
Author: John W. Duffield
Art: Walter S. Rogers
Total Volumes Sold: 25,631

In The Temples Of Fear Destined For A Strange Sacrifice

12: Don Sturdy In The Temples Of Fear
       or, Destined For A Strange Sacrifice
Published: 1932
Author: John W. Duffield
Art: Nat Falk
Total Volumes Sold: 17,477

Lost In Glacier Bay Mystery Of The Moving Totem Poles

13: Don Sturdy Lost In Glacier Bay
       or, Mystery Of The Moving Totem Poles
Published: 1933
Author: John W. Duffield
Art: Nat Falk
Total Volumes Sold: 15,000

Trapped In The Flaming Wilderness Unearthing Secrets In Central Asia

14: Don Sturdy Trapped In The Flaming Wilderness
       or, Unearthing Secrets In Central Asia
Published: 1934
Author: John W. Duffield
Art: Nat Falk
Total Volumes Sold: 14,102

With The Harpoon Hunters The Strange Cruise Of The Whaling Ship

15: Don Sturdy With The Harpoon Hunters
       or, The Strange Cruise Of The Whaling Ship
Published: 1935
Author: John W. Duffield
Art: Nat Falk
Total Volumes Sold: 10,379

Total Reported U.S. Sales: 831,321 volumes
Does not include copies that may have been remaindered.
Published in the USA by Grosset & Dunlap.
Each book has a full color dustjacket & glossy frontispiece.
Earlier (pre circa 1932) editions had blank white endpapers.
Later editions had endpapers illustrated with scenes from the books.
Foreign editions by other publishers exist.

Special thanks to James Keeline and Frank Krieger for their assistance.

British Don Sturdy Editions