Monday, June 10, 2002

The Mystery of Nancy Drew

Somewhere around the time I was in college, or soon thereafter, I learned that the Nancy Drew books of which I had been so fond were not written by a woman named Carolyn Keene, but by a group of faceless writers who worked for a syndicate that published the Nancy Drew books as well as others such as The Hardy Boys. I became quite jaded, thought I understood the ways of the world, and began referring to dear Nancy as Nancy Drew, Defective.

Then I started reading about an elderly woman named Harriet S. Adams, daughter of Edward Stratemeyer who founded the Stratemeyer Syndicate that published the Nancy Drew books. She was credited with writing many of the books in the Nancy Drew series and received a lot of press at the time of her death in 1982 for having done so.

Now another, even more elderly, woman has died and the press write-ups are giving her credit for having been the writer who actually created Nancy Drew. Mildred Wirt Benson is said to have written the earliest, and some say the best, Nancy Drew stories. Though she is now credited with writing twenty-three of the books, a confidentiality agreement she was required to sign by her employer kept her from receiving credit for it. After a 1980 court case the truth could be told, though I've only just heard it.

Am I the only one who's wondering if this is the end? Are there still more spunky old ladies out there who spent their youths cranking out tales about a girl who solved mysteries, had a dad with money, friends, a boyfriend, and a car? (My dream life when I was a teenager. Except for the solving mysteries part, it still is.)

You can check out the Nancy Drew tale at these two sites:
Nancy Through the Decades
The Hindu


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