the rover boys series
by arthur m. winfield

No stories for boys ever published have attained the tremendous popularity of this famous series. Since the publication of the first volume "The Rover Boys At School", some years ago, over three million copies of these books have been sold. They are well written stories dealing with the Rover boys in a great many different kinds of activities and adventures. Each volume holds something of interest to every adventure loving boy. - Grosset & Dunlap advertisement.

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Mershon Rover Boys Cover
Wanamaker Rover Boys Cover
Chatterton-Peck Cover
Grosset & Dunlap Rover Boys Cover Style 1
G&D green 1st series
Grosset & Dunlap Rover Boys Cover Style 2
G&D brown 2nd series
Grosset & Dunlap Rover Boys Cover Style 1G&D Orange

The first highly successful series by Edward Stratemeyer, each volume had a preface from Edward Stratemeyer himself, thanking his readers and touting the other books.

It's generally accepted that Stratemeyer wrote all of the books. He is on record as stating it is his favorite series.

Volumes 1 - 11 of this series were published by Mershon (starting 1899), then Stitt (starting 1905), then Chatterton-Peck (starting 1907). All these books are very difficult to locate.

In 1902-1904 John Wanamaker reprinted at least volumes 1-5 using the Mershon plates (with a modified title page) and internal illustrations as part of the Wanamaker Young People's Library. There appear to be two binding styles and various binding colors have been seen (green, olive, maroon). The Wanamaker reprints are of a very high quality (better than the Mershon editions) and are the rarest of all Rover Boys editions.

In 1908, Grosset & Dunlap reprinted all the earlier volumes and continued to produce all succeeding Rover books.

The G&D books came in 3 binding styles (green, brown, orange) and 2 types of dustjackets (2 color and full color - all of which were the same for every title). The green and brown bindings are illustrated (imitating the design of the earlier publishers) and had plain white endpapers, while the orange binding is not illustrated and had green striped endpapers.

Sometime in the late 1930's or early 1940's Whitman Publishing reprinted volumes 1, 2, 7, 8, 10, 11, 13, 14. All new full color dustjackets were created for these books. They contain no internal illustrations.

Starting with volume 21, the stories recounted the adventures of the four sons of the original three Rover Boys (Tom, Dick and Sam), who by that time had married and settled into adjoining brownstones on Riverside Drive in New York City.

Arthur Prager's book Rascals At Large has a chapter devoted to the antics of the brothers Rover and I recommend it to all fans.

A Rover Boys Primer

In the original series, the Rover Boys consist of brothers Dick (the eldest), Tom and Sam (the youngest). They are the sons of wealthy businessman Anderson Rover and live on a Hudson River valley farm with their uncle and aunt, Randolph and Martha Rover.

The Rovers have the distinction of being the most high-handed and obnoxious series book "heroes" ever. Brother Tom, the "practical joker", is a borderline psychotic who indulges in "jokes" so cruel, mean and dangerous that they would no doubt land anyone else in jail or, at least, in civil court. Wherever they go, the Rovers are snobbish, haughty, condescending and downright mean to all they meet. What is even more amazing is that these people accept the Rovers' obnoxious behavior with an obsequiousness normally reserved for Oriental potentates and extremely rich, superannuated relatives.

In the first 12 volumes, the Rovers were students at Putnam Hall, a military academy run by family friend, Captain Putnam. Their adventures while attending this institution took them far and wide on land, sea and in the air. After leaving Putnam Hall, the boys went on to college and eventually into business and, finally, marriage - an event which triggered the Rover Boys Second Series.

The Rovers were a lusty lot and wasted no time making the acquaintance of Dora Stanhope and her cousins Grace and Nellie Laning. Their "friends" included would-be poet John "Songbird" Powell, the dudish William Philander Potts (who was subjected to the brunt of Tom's practical "jokes") and the fat German Hans Mueller (subject of much low ethnic humor) among others. Handyman Alexander Pop, one of the typical shuffling, eye-rolling Negroes so prevalent in early Stratemeyer works, also bore the brunt of much low humor. Their main foes were Josiah Crabtree, a professor at Putnam Hall who had a hypnotic hold over Mrs. Stanhope and lusted for her fortune; Dan Baxter and Tad Sobber (among others) were fellow students who constantly battled the Rovers.

The Second Series presented the reader with Dick and Dora's offspring Martha and Jack, Tom and Nellie's twins Andy and Randy and Sam and Grace's progeny Fred and Mary. The girls were quickly packed off to boarding school and were seldom heard from again. Meanwhile, the four cousins, while attending the Colby Hall academy run by old family friend Larry Colby, had a series of adventures that closely parallel those of their fathers.

Introduction from Volume One:
MY DEAR BOYS: "The Rover Boys at School" has been written that those of you who have never put in a term or more at an American military academy for boys may gain some insight into the workings of such an institution.
While Putnam Hall is not the real name of the particular place of learning I had in mind while penning this tale for your amusement and instruction, there is really such a school, and dear Captain Putnam is a living person, as are also the lively, wide-awake, fun-loving Rover brothers, Dick, Tom, and Sam, and their schoolfellows, Larry, Fred, and Frank. The same can be said, to a certain degree, of the bully Dan Baxter, and his toady, the sneak commonly known as "Mumps."
The present story is complete in itself, but it is written as the first of a series,. to be followed by "The Rover Boys in the Jungle," in both of which volumes we will again meet many of our former characters.
Trusting that this tale will find as much favor in your hands as have my previous stories, I remain,
Affectionately and sincerely yours,
Arthur M. Winfield
W.B. Bridge (1-6) frontispieces only
Stacy Burch (1-6) internals
anonymous (7,8)
A . Burnham Shute (9,10)
Charles Nuttal (11-14)
Walter S. Rogers (15-17, 19-30)
Dick Richards (18)

The Rover Boys Series

01: The Rover Boys At School
      or, The Cadets Of Putnam Hall - 1899

02: The Rover Boys On The Ocean
      or, A Chase For Fortune - 1899

03: The Rover Boys In the Jungle
      or, Stirring Adventures In Africa- 1899

04: The Rover Boys Out West
      or, The Search For The Lost Mine - 1900

05: The Rover Boys On the Great Lakes
      or, The Secret Of The Island Cave - 1901

06: The Rover Boys In the Mountains
      or, A Hunt For Fun And Fortune - 1902

07: The Rover Boys On Land and Sea
      or, The Crusoes Of Seven Islands - 1903

08: The Rover Boys In Camp
      or,The Rivals Of Pine Island - 1904

09: 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 - 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 Road 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 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 Search For The Missing Bonds - 1915

20: The Rover Boys On a Tour
      or, Last Days At Brill College - 1916

The Rover Boys Second Series

21: The Rover Boys At Colby Hall
      or, The Struggles Of The Young Cadets - 1917

22: The Rover Boys On Snowshoe Island
      or, The Old Lumberman's Treasure Box - 1918

23: The Rover Boys Under Canvas
      or, The Mystery Of The Wrecked Submarine - 1919

24: The Rover Boys On a Hunt
      or, The Mysterious House In The Woods - 1920

25: The Rover Boys In the Land of Luck
      or, Stirring Adventures In The Oilfields - 1921

26: The Rover Boys At Big Horn Ranch
      or, The Cowboys' Double Round-Up - 1922

27: The Rover Boys At Big Bear Lake
      or, The Camp Of The Rivals Cadets - 1923

28: The Rover Boys Shipwrecked
      or, A Thrilling Hunt For Pirates Gold - 1924

29: The Rover Boys On Sunset Trail
      or, The Old Miner's Mysterious Message - 1925

30: The Rover Boys Winning a Fortune
      or, Strenuous Days Afloat And Ashore - 1926

Kindle Editions: First Series - Second Series

Grosset & Dunlap Rover Boys Dustjacket Style 1
G&D DJ style 1
Grosset & Dunlap Rover Boys Second Series Dustjacket Style 1
G&D 2nd Series DJ
Grosset & Dunlap Rover Boys Dustjacket Style 2
G&D DJ style 2
Whitman Rover Boys Dustjacket
Whitman DJ

The Putnam Hall Series

Putnam Hall Cover This series recounts the adventures of the boys of Putnam Hall before the Rover Boys arrived. Many characters in this series also appear in the Rover Boys series although the Rover Boys themselves do not make an appearance here.

The first 2 volumes were published by Mershon, then Stitt, then Chatterton-Peck. Grosset & Dunlap then took over, reprinting the first two volumes and publishing the next four.

In 1921 Grosset & Dunlap re-issued the series and slightly modified the titles (i.e The Cadets Of Putnam Hall, etc.) and changed the sequence.

Illustrators: A. Burnham Shute (1); Clare Angell (2); Charles Nutall(3-6)

1: The Putnam Hall Cadets
or, Good Times In School And Out - 1901
AKA The Cadets Of Putnam Hall (5) (1921)

My Dear Boys: In bringing out this story,"The Putnam Hall Cadets", the initial volume in the"Putnam Hall Series," I feel it necessary to make an explanation why it is that this tale is brought out when I have already written so much concerning the doings of the students at Putnam Hall. Ever since I presented to the boys the first volume in the"Rover Boys Series," I have been urged by the boys -- and girls, too, for the matter of that -- to write something concerning the doings of the students at the Hall previous to the coming of the Rover boys on the scene. When the Rovers arrived they found a wide-awake, jolly crowd of cadets already there, some of whom had been at the academy several years. My young friends wished to know more about these, and it is for their benefit that I have instituted this new series, which will tell of many things that happened at the famous seat of learning from the time it was first opened to the present day. Putnam Hall is an ideal boarding school for boys, located on the shore of a beautiful lake in upper New York State. The students there are bright, manly fellows, full of vigor and fun, and bound to get the best there is out of school life. There are some keen rivalries, and in the story are related the particulars of a mystery which had an unlooked-for ending. In offering this first book of the new series I wish to thank the thousands everywhere who have written to me regarding the"Rover Boys Series." It does my heart good to know that the tales have been so well liked. I trust sincerely that the present story meets with equal approbation. Affectionately and sincerely yours, Arthur M. Winfield. July 25, 1905. Putnam Hall Cover

2: The Putnam Hall Rivals
or, Fun And Sport Afloat And Ashore - 1906
AKA The Rivals Of Putnam Hall (6) (1921)

This tale of "The Putnam Hall Rivals" is a companion story to "The Putnam Hall Cadets" brought out about a year ago. It relates the further adventures of Jack Ruddy, Pepper Ditmore, and their chums, at and near Putnam Hall, an ideal boarding school for boys, located upon a beautiful lake in the upper portion of the State of New York. As at all boarding academies there are many keen rivalries,-in the classrooms, at the gymnasium, on the athletic field, and also on the lake. The majority of the boys are upright and open-hearted, but among the cadets there are to be found a few who are mean and even base, and these do a number of things which cause our heroes not a little trouble.

The "Putnam Hall Series" was started at the earnest solicitation of a number of my young friends who had read my "Rover Boys Series" and wanted to know more about what had happened at Putnam Hall previous to the coming of the three Rover brothers on the scene. When the Rovers arrived they found at the academy a set of wide-awake lads, full of fun and "go," and it is about these that the present tale concerns itself.

3: The Putnam Hall Champions
or, Bound To Win Out - 1908
AKA The Champions Of Putnam Hall (4) (1921)

In this volume the Putnam Hall Cadets show what they can do in various keen rivalries on the athletic field and elsewhere. There is one victory which leads to a most unlookked-for-discovery.

4: The Putnam Hall Rebellion
or, The Rival Runaways - 1909
AKA The Rebellion At Putnam Hall (3) (1921)

The boys had good reasons for running away during Captain Putnam's absence. They had plenty of fun, and several queer adventures.

5: The Putnam Hall Encampment
or, The Secret Of The Old Mill - 1910
AKA Camping Out Days At Putnam Hall (2) (1921)

This story is complete in itself but forms the fifth volume in a line issued under the general title of "Putnam Hall Series."

As I have mentioned several times, this series was started at the solicitation of those who had read some of my "Rover Boys" books and who wanted to know something about what took place at Putnam Hall military academy before the Rovers went there.

In my first volume, called, "The Putnam Hall Cadets," I told how Captain Putnam happened to organize that famous school, and how Jack Ruddy and Pepper Ditmore came to be among his first pupils. The boys made a host of friends and also some enemies, and proved their worth on more than one occasion.

In the second volume, "The Putnam Hall Rivals," I related the outcome of several contests on the field of sports, and also gave the particulars of a thrilling balloon ride and of a strange discovery in the woods. Then came "The Putnam Hall Champions," with more contests, in one of which Jack Ruddy's enemies played him a foul trick.

6: The Putnam Hall Mystery
or The School Chums' Strange Discovery - 1911
AKA The Mystery At Putnam Hall (1) (1921)

The particulars of the mystery and the solution of it are very interesting reading.

The Dover Boys

The Dover Boys

In 1942 Warner Brothers created an animated parody of the Rover Boys.

The Dover Boys At Pimento University; or, The Rivals Of Roquefort Hall
A Merrie Melodies Cartoon - ID#: WB4231
Director: Charles M. (Chuck) Jones
Writer: Ted Pierce
Animation: Robert Cannon
Music: Carl W. Stalling
Synopsis: Pimento University (P.U.) students, Tom, Dick and Larry (AKA The Dover Boys), must rescue their girl, Dora Standpipe, from the clutches of the evil but hapless Dan Backslide.

NOTES: Considered by Chuck Jones to be"The very first Chuck Jones cartoon" -- The first to show his unique style. Yet it is still very different from other Jones cartoons (or other Warner's cartoons for that matter), using a soft-focus look, more realistic (almost painting-like) animation and a mature theme.
This cartoon is in the public domain and can be viewed online from various sources..
It's clear that Ted Pierce, the author of this cartoon, had more than a passing acquaintance with the Rover Boys series.
John McLeish voiced the part of the narrator. The voice of Tom Dover was performed by long-time Termite Terrace writer Tedd Pierce. Vocal harmonies were provided by The Sportsmen Quartet. Dora was voiced by Bea Benaderet. Dan Backslide was voiced by the great Mel Blanc .
In the 90's, the "Dover Boys" characters made cameo appearances in the Warners/Steven Spielberg cartoon series,"The Animaniacs" alongside Slappy Squirrel in "Frontier Slappy," while singing discrediting lyrics about Daniel Boone, the Warners in "Magic Time", and in Wakko's Wish. A short clip of this cartoon is featured in the opening credits of "Less Than Hero", an episode of Futurama. They also appeared cheering in the stands late in the movie Space Jam.