Fictional teen sleuths Frank and Joe Hardy are the sons of the celebrated detective Fenton Hardy and his wife, Laura. Living with them is Fenton's sister, Aunt Gertrude Hardy.
They reside in the northeastern seaboard city of Bayport, located near the Atlantic Ocean on Barmet Bay.
The Boys are highly mobile and have a car, motorcycles and a motorboat, The Sleuth.
Frank and Joe are accompanied on all their adventures by their particular chum, the chubby farmboy Chet Morton. Their other chums are Biff Hooper, Tony Prito, Phil Cohen and Jerry Gilroy.
Frank and Joe date, respectively (and respectfully), Callie Shaw and Iola Morton, the sister of Chet Morton.
The Bayport Police Department is represented by Chief Ezra Collig, Patrolman Con Riley and, in the early unrevised stories, Detective Oscar Smuff.
Since the release of the first three "breeder" volumes in May 1927 by New York publisher Grosset & Dunlap, the Hardy Boys have never gone out of print and they remain popular today with close to 500 titles published across several different series.
Starting in 1959 the first 38 stories were revised and somewhat abridged, much to the dismay of long-time Hardy Boys fans. The books were shortened (to reduce publishing costs), obsolete prose was updated and racial stereotypes were eliminated. Although the stories were given the same titles and some of the plots remained basically the same, many books were given new plots and are unrecogizable from the originals. Unfortunately, the quality of the writing was nowhere near as high as in the unrevised versions and the resulting stories lost much of their original charm.
After the 1979 court battle in which Grosset & Dunlap lost the rights to publish any new Hardy Boys tales, Simon & Schuster started publishing new stories in paperback format (the Digests), although Grosset & Dunlap retained the right to print the original 58 stories (the "canon") and the Detective Handbook.
In addition to their solo adventures in the original stories and the Digests, they have joined forces with Nancy Drew in two Supermystery series, the two volume Super Sleuths series and the Be A Detective series and with Tom Swift in the short-lived Ultra Thriller series.
They also spawned several spin-off series (Casefiles, Clue Books, The Clues Brothers, Secret Files, Undercover Brothers Graphic Novels), in addition to many other books such as The Detective Handbook, Ghost Stories, activity books, a coloring book, etc.
The Hardy Boys have become pop culture icons and have spawned 4 TV series (including an animated cartoon series) in addition to many other media appearances including comic, coloring, activity & puzzle books; stage plays; games; toys; records and many other collectible items.
The Hardy Boys is the all-time best selling and longest running series of books for boys and has been published the world over in many languages.