Gilbert Patten

Facts about Gilbert Patten

Gilbert Patten died at 78 years old
Birthplace: Corinna, Maine, United States
Best known as: The writer of the Frank Merriwell dime novels in the early 20th century

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Gilbert Patten Biography

Name at birth: George William Patten

Gilbert Patten appears on lists of top selling authors because of his dime novels of the early 20th century — he wrote one each week for 17 years, under the name Burt L. Standish.

Nearly all of them featured the character Frank Merriwell, an idealized version of what a Good American Boy should be.

Patten grew up in Maine and set out on his own as a teenager, getting work as a reporter in 1883. By his mid-20s he was making money writing short pieces for various periodicals.

Street & Smith Publishing hired Patten in 1896 to write short novels for Tip Top Weekly. He wrote a 20,000 word book every week for 17 years, with just a couple of breaks.

Frank Merriwell, the protagonist of most of Patten’s work, was the guy everyone wanted to be like: a great athlete, a good pal, a smart guy — but not an egghead! — with a halo of virtue that made the girls swoon.

Frank Merriwell stories were hugely popular until around World War I, but Patten was paid a modest salary all those years.

In the 1930s a copyright-free Frank Merriwell had a revival as a comic strip and a radio show, but without Patten’s involvement.

After living in Brooklyn for most of his career, Patten moved to California late in life and died there in 1945, broke and unknown.


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