LOWERY’S Collector’s Number: GW68
at least one printing
Big Little Book® published in 1937; ©1931-34 Central Press Association
Hard cover; Standard size: 3 5/8” x 4 1/2” x 1 1/2”; 240 pages
Author: Burt L. Standish (pseudonym for Gilbert Patten, but the story is actually written by Jack Kofoed)
Artist: Jack R. Wihelm

Cover Artist: Unknown


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The creator of Frank Merriwell was Gilbert Patten. Patten was born October 25, 1866 in Corinna, Maine. He developed an interest in writing at an early age, and his favorite literature was the dime novel. Eventually, Patten became a prolific and much-enjoyed author.

In the winter of 1895, Street and Smith, a publishing firm for which Patten had written numerous stories, asked him to develop a character for a series to be featured in their new magazine, Tip Top Library (later called Tip Top Weekly). Patten accepted the challenge and called his young hero Frank merriwell.

"The name was symbolic of the chief characteristics I desired my hero to have," he explained, "Frank for frankness, merry for a happy disposition, well for health and abounding vitality." For himself, the author invented a pseudonym, Burt L. Standish, which was forever linked to his fictional character.

The first Merriwell yarn appeared on April 18, 1896, and his adventures continued week after week for nearly two decades.

Boys and girls of that era took to Frank immediately. He was an instant success and an inspiration. The nation's youth came to feel that somewhere, a real Frank Merriwell existed and that Mr. Standish was merely recounting his exciting deeds.

Merriwell appeared in movies, on radio, and in comics. This Big Little Book® reprints the 1934 part of the daily comic which began July 20, 1931 and ended July 14, 1934. Since the BLB wasn't released until 1937, some of the illustrations had to be updated—notably the baseball players' jerseys which show "1937". Although Standish is credited with the story, it was actuallyw ritten by Jack Kofoed. The story tells of Merriwell's adventures on and off the playing field and includes the mysterious doings of a secret society.

Merriwell began on radio in the mid-1930s, a three-times-a-week serial for Dr. West's Toothpaste. After being off the air for many years, the show returned on October 5, 1946 as an NBC half-our Saturday-morning program. Lawson Zerbe was the voice of Merriwell, Hal Studer was his pal, Bart Hodge, and Elaine Ross was his girlfriend, Inza Burrage. The voice of Mel Brandt set the stage for the program: "There it is, an echo of the past, an exciting past, a romantic past—the era of the horse and carriage, gas-lit streets, and free-for-all football games; the era of one of the most beloved characters in American fiction, Frank Merriwell. Merriwell is loved as much today as ever he was, and so the National Broadcasting Company brings him to radio, in a new series of books written by Gilbert Patton under the pen name Burt L. Standish." The program came to an end in 1949.

By the time Patten died in 1945, he had come to be recognized as one of the greatest of a breed of vanished writers. With the passage of years, it has become apparent that of all of them, Gilbert Patten can justly be called, "The Dime Novel King."

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