Trick question: True or false--Carolyn Keene and Franklin W. Dixon are one and the same person.
Carolyn Keene, you may recall, is the creator/author of the Nancy Drew series. Franklin W. Dixon holds that honor for The Hardy Boys.
The answer is: it's a trick question. Both Carolyn Keen and Franklin W. Dixon are pseudonyms, and they both belong to one of the most successful book packaging operations in publishing history.
A book packager is a company that produces books more-or-less on demand for publishers. The practice continues into the 21st century. The idea is that the company creates the book to meet the specifications of a given contract. For example, a publisher wants to put out a series of guides to the great outdoors or to the great cities of Europe. It might approach an organization with some credibility in the field (the Audubon Society or the Nature Conservancy, for example). The organization will agree to lend their name to the project, but they won't necessarily have the staff to compile the book. So a packager is contracted to do the actual work. This company does the research, writes the text, secures rights to the photos, etc. and pretty much puts it together for an agreed-upon fee. Once the book is published, the packager is pretty much done. Often it doesn't receive credit or even an acknowledgement.
In many respects, it isn't all that different from a ghost writer who will produce a book that is credited to another individual (wait...you don't think that John F. Kennedy actually wrote Profiles in Courage, do you?)
Anyway, Carolyn Keene and Franklin W. Dixon weren't real people. They were pseudonyms owned by The Stratemeyer Syndicate. It got its start in 1899 when Edward Stratemeyer launched a series of juvenile fiction called The Rover Boys. He wrote the books himself under the pseudonym of Arthur M. Winfield. (Stratemeyer was comfortable with pseudonyms; he had written a number of the Horatio Alger novels using that pseudonym.)
The first series was a hit, so he expanded into a second series called The Bobbsey Twins, written under the name of Laura Lee Hope. This, too, proved popular and Stratemeyer knew he was on to something.
He also knew that he wouldn't be able to crank them out fast enough all by his lonesome. So he got some help by hiring ghost writers. These men and women would be paid a fee to produce books in the series according to a set of rules (and names) dictated by Stratemeyer.
One of the rules was that Stratemeyer would devise the titles and the basic plot that the writers would flesh out. Another was that the writers were sworn to secrecy. No one was to know that there was no one Carolyn Keene or Franklin W. Dixon. In fact, a series of writers (usually moonlighting newspaper reporters) wrote under each name. Fan mail directed to the authors in care of the publisher was forwarded, and answering letters were sent by either "the assistant to" or "the secretary of" the particular author. And no one outside a small circle knew.
The number of series in the Stratemeyer Syndicate continued to expand. In addition to Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys, there were The Radio Boys, Ted Scott Flying Stories, Tom Swift (actually, Tom Swift, Tom Swift, Jr. and Tom Swift III each had his own series), The Happy Hollisters...more than 40 series in all.
Mr. Stratemeyer died in 1930, but his Syndicate continued and was operated by his daughter, Harriet. She continued to introduce new series and, in the 1950s, she began to update the earlier books. Times were changing and teenagers listening to Elvis weren't really all that taken by reading about the exploits of air mail pilots (especially when they were written in the present tense). There was also the issue of awakening consciousness, and many of the books were no longer quite correct in their characterizations of various ethnic groups. The term "politically correct" hadn't yet been coined, but if it had it certainly would not have applied to the stereotypes and slurs that the books contained.
Harriet continued to update the series and in the 1970s, she decided to start producing the books in paperback. Well, the traditional publisher, Grosset & Dunlap was less than enthusiastic (they didn't do paperbacks) and they sued. For more than 70 years the secret had been kept (that's far longer than many of the secrets of World War II when you stop to think about it), but the law suit brought it all out into the open.
The secret was out! There was no one Carolyn Keene. There was no one Franklin W. Dixon. But there was one Stratemeyer Syndicate. And since they won the suit, there would now be modern paperbacks. They were enough like the original to please the parents (who actually bought the books) but realistic enough in contemporary references (no more roadsters, for example) to satisfy the young teens who would read them.
With Harriet's death in 1982, Simon & Schuster bought the Syndicate and continues to publish several of the series.
So, if you answered "yes" to our original question ("True or false--Carolyn Keene and Franklin W. Dixon are one and the same person."), you were correct. It is, indeed, both true and false.