Nancy Drew History

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The History of the Famous Girl Sleuth: by Amy S.

 In 1930, Edward Stratemeyer thought up the idea of spunky, independent, outgoing Nancy Drew. He asked a writer, Mildred Wirt (later Benson), to write the series. There never was a Carolyn Keene.

 

A year later, Edward Stratemeyer died, leaving the business to his two daughters. They kept it up well, but after a while, one sister left, leaving the other to run the business. She was Harriet Adams.

Harriet Adams ran the company, Stratemeyer Sindicate, successfully for a very long time. She kept the series going... but she didn't keep the author around for the duration of the series. She thought that the way Ms. Wirt made Nancy was too spunky, and that Nancy should settle down a bit. When Adams first took control of the syndicate, she politely asked Wirt to tone it down a little. However, after a few years, she was becoming what some might call dictatorial. She declined whole parts of books, and, although at the time she herself didn't actually write them, she made strict outlines for Wirt to follow.

After awhle, when the company was struggling, Adams cut the pay from $125/ book to $75/book. Although most of the writers accepted this, Wirt did not think it was worth it. She left after having written 23 books. Other authors took over.

In the late 1950's, sales of the series was decreasing, supposedly due to the shorter attention span of children caused by TV's. Adams decided to give the books a total makeover. Rewriting whole parts of books, she gave Nancy a whole new feel. In some books, there had been racial discrimination; this was cut out of the books when Adams was re-making Nancy Drew.

After many years, in the 1980's, the syndicare finally could hold out no longer. After a series of complicated legal cases involving the rights to publishing the books, the syndicate closed up, and control of the series was handed over to Simon & Scheuster.

However, despite all the changes, Nancy Drew fans still love the books, proving that Nancy Drew is a timeless classic.

In 1930, Edward Stratemeyer thought up the idea of spunky, independent, outgoing Nancy Drew. He asked a writer, Mildred Wirt (later Benson), to write the series. There never was a Carolyn Keene.

A year later, Edward Stratemeyer died, leaving the business to his two daughters. They kept it up well, but after a while, one sister left, leaving the other to run the business. She was Harriet Adams.

Harriet Adams ran the company, Stratemeyer Sindicate, successfully for a very long time. She kept the series going... but she didn't keep the author around for the duration of the series. She thought that the way Ms. Wirt made Nancy was too spunky, and that Nancy should settle down a bit. When Adams first took control of the syndicate, she politely asked Wirt to tone it down a little. However, after a few years, she was becoming what some might call dictatorial. She declined whole parts of books, and, although at the time she herself didn't actually write them, she made strict outlines for Wirt to follow.

After awhle, when the company was struggling, Adams cut the pay from $125/ book to $75/book. Although most of the writers accepted this, Wirt did not think it was worth it. She left after having written 23 books. Other authors took over.

In the late 1950's, sales of the series was decreasing, supposedly due to the shorter attention span of children caused by TV's. Adams decided to give the books a total makeover. Rewriting whole parts of books, she gave Nancy a whole new feel. In some books, there had been racial discrimination; this was cut out of the books when Adams was re-making Nancy Drew.

After many years, in the 1980's, the syndicare finally could hold out no longer. After a series of complicated legal cases involving the rights to publishing the books, the syndicate closed up, and control of the series was handed over to Simon & Scheuster.

However, despite all the changes, Nancy Drew fans still love the books, proving that Nancy Drew is a timeless classic.

 

Original Publishing Dates of Original Nancy Drews

The Secret of the Old Clock- 1930

The Hidden Staircase- 1930

The Bungalow Mystery- 1930

The Mystery at Lilac Inn- 1930

The Secret of Shadow Ranch-1931

The Secret of Redgate Farm- 1931

The Clue in the Diary- 1932

Nancy's Mysterious Letter-1932

The Sign of the Twisted Candles- 1933 

Password to Larkspur Lane- 1933

The Clue of the Broken Locket- 1934

The Message in the Hollow Oak -1935

The Mystery of the Ivory Charm- 1936

The Whispering Statue- 1937

The Haunted Bridge- 1937

The Clue of the Tapping Heels- 1939

The Mystery of the Brass-Bound Trunk- 1940

The Mystery of the Moss-Covered Mansion- 1941

The Quest of the Missing Map- 1942

The Clue in the Jewel Box- 1943

The Secret in the Old Attic- 1944

The Clue in the Crumbling Wall- 1945

The Mystery of the Tolling Bell- 1946

The Clue in the Old Album- 1947

The Ghost of Blackwood Hall- 1948

The Clue of the Leaning Chimney- 1949

The Secret of the Wooden Lady- 1950

The Clue of the Black Keys- 1951

Mystery at the Ski Jump- 1952

The Clue of the Velvet Mask- 1953

The Ringmaster's Secret- 1953

The Scarlet Slipper Mystery- 1954

The Witch Tree Symbol- 1955

The Hidden Window Mystery- 1956

The Haunted Showboat- 1957

The Secret of the Golden Pavilion- 1959

The Clue in the Old Stagecoach- 1960

The Mystery of the Fire Dragon- 1961

The Clue of the Dancing Puppet- 1962

The Moonstone Castle Mystery- 1963

The Clue of the Whistling Bagpipes- 1964

The Phantom of Pine Hill- 1965

The Mystery of the 99 Steps- 1966

The Clue in the Crossword Cipher- 1967

The Spider Sapphire Mystery- 1968

The Invisible Intruder- 1969

The Mysterious Mannequin- 1970

The Crooked Banister- 1971

The Secret of Mirror Bay- 1972

The Double Jinx Mystery- 1973

Mystery of the Glowing Eye- 1974

The Secret of the Forgotten City- 1975

The Sky Phantom- 1976

Strange Message in the Parchment- 1977

Mystery of Crocodile Island- 1978

The Thirteenth Pearl- 1979

Illustrators of Nancy Drew books

Russel H. Tandy

Bill Gillies

Rudy Nappi

Book Review: The Clue of the Leaning Chimney

Before I start, I would like to say that I will be writing at least one review per week, and that I will go in order of when they were published. Eventually, after I've written at least 5 reviews in this series, I'll move on to another Nancy Drew series and write five there, etc. I plan to go all the way up to the Nancy Drew: Girl Detective series.

In The Clue of the Leaning Chimney, Nancy discovers a thief when she's driving home from a rummage sale benefit one day. It turns out the thief has stolen a valuable Ming dynasty vase.

This leads Nancy into an exciting and perilous mystery, surrounding a huge wall, a cult consisting of the "lavender sisters," and eventually to the discovery of long-lost friends.

During the story, Nancy is constantly caught in situations requiring impossible logic, life-threatening situations, and many exciting discoveries.

Towards the end of the story, Nancy comes close to losing her life, and the lives of her friends lie in her hands only.

OPINION: This is an interesting and well-thought-out book. It's one the best Nancy Drew books in my opinion, and is highly reccomended. If you are a new Nancy Drew fan, or you have been reading Nancy Drew for years, does not matter. This is a good book for all.

 

Book Review: #5, Lights, Camera...; #6, Action!

These two books are actually "to be continued" books. They come one right after the other, and are interesting.

Lights, Camera...

In this book, Nancy finds out about a new television movie being filmed in town. She decides to visit the set, and right away, she "sniffs" out a new mystery. When she arrives, she visits one of the trailers with her friend, Luther Eldridge, and the director, Morris Dunnowitz. They are attacked by a skunk!

Nancy smells something funny, and her hunches tell her that there's more to this than meets the eye. While visiting the set, she is picked to play Esther Rackham, an important character in the story.

Other strange events begin to happen, and the set starts to become tense as the budget becomes tighter and tighter because of the "accidents." Nancy must find out who is causing the problems, or else the movie will soon turn into a horror movie!

OPINION: This is a good book, although I like some of the later books in the Nancy Drew: Girl Detective series better. The book has a satisfying ending and, while the ending is not suspensful and does not leave you hanging, you do tend to want to find out what happens next.

 

Action!

In this second installment of the story, Nancy is feeling nervous about being in the movie. She feels she is messing up the scenes and isn't her usual self. About midway through, however, she realizes that she has no cause to worry, thanks to Hannah Gruen. Now she can focus on the real mystery: What really happened to the Mahoney gang and why are two pages in Esther's diary missing?

This leads her on an exciting "drop" to discover not only the secret, but to save the movie as well.

OPINION: This is, although not as focused on living people as the last book, in my opinion, better than the last. The ending is very interesting, and makes you feel happy when everything is finally worked out. I would very much reccommend this book.

Reviews by Amy S.

 

Mildred Wirt Benson: A Biography

Most people know her as Carolyn Keene, the author of the Nancy Drew books. But the truth is that that is a pseudonym used by her and as many as five others. Born in 1905, she always loved writing and sold her first story, "The Courtesy," at age 12, making $2.50. She was always a tomboy, and liked sports, outdoors, and hated playing with dolls. In fact, she shaped the character Nancy Drew after herself: independent, outgoing, brave, and strong. But, wanting Nancy to be even better, she gave Nancy what she thought she herself didn't have; good looks, admiration and respect, and lots of dates.

Apparently she agreed with her eager readers, "The girls were ripe for a change in literature. They were way overdue for a good entertaining story that broke away from the old style of writing. I think Nancy Drew was the character the girls were waiting for." And so it was. Nancy Drew books were snapped up like candy, and fans saw something they had never seen before: a girl was who independent, kind, new, old-fashioned, a little bit naughty, a little bit nice, a little sassy, and not afraid to stand up to adults, even criminals for what was right. It seemed that at times Nancy was more boy than girl... and that girls still loved Nancy that way, if not loving her for it.

Mildred wrote over 100 books during her long career, and enjoyed doing it. After stopping writing of the Nancy Drew series on book 23, she went on to continue working as a journalist for 58 years. She was the first woman to graduate from Iowa University with a major in journalism in 1927. When she was in her sixties, she became a licensed commercial and private pilot.

Sadly, on May 28th 2002, she died of lung cancer at the hospital in Toledo, Ohio. She was 96.

Text to "Mildred Wirt Benson: A Biography" borrowed from my other site, www.popularkidbooks.com

©2006 All Rights Reserved. Use by permission only.

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