Nancy Drew

All about Nancy Drew & Carolyn Keene: bio, pictures, links to books, games, videos

nancy-drewNancy Drew (1930- ), a highly skilled, amateur detective character, was created in 1930 by Edward Stratemeyer. In the seven decades since her creation, the teenage super-sleuth aged from 16 to 18 years old, and solved more than 350 mysteries. Bold and independent, yet gentle and well mannered, Nancy fought off villains on one page and cooked a full course dinner on the next. Despite her pristine, upper-class lifestyle, Nancy Drew was not afraid to scour the Earth for the evil that lurked in every shadow. This made her one of the most popular heroines of modern times.

Edward Stratemeyer’s company, The Statemeyer Syndicate, created 125 series characters including The Hardy Boys, Bobbsey Twins, and The Rover Boys. At any one time, the Syndicate juggled the publications of 22 different series. Edward Stratemeyer found most of his writers through classified advertisements. To work for the empire genius, writers signed away all rights to properties. For Nancy Drew, the writers used the pseudonym Carolyn Keene to assure anonymity.

Of all Stratemeyer creations, Nancy Drew was the most popular. Edward Stratemeyer died in May of 1930, never realizing the immense success of the series.

After Stratemeyer’s death, the Syndicate passed to his daughters, Edna and Harriet. Edna contributed 10 plot outlines before passing the reigns to her sister. While Harriet is often credited as Carolyn Keene, several other authors assumed the pseudonym. Starting in 1953, Harriet authored 24 volumes. In 1959, Harriet, along with several writers, began a 25-year project to revise the earlier novels. The books were condensed, racial stereotypes were removed, and the language was updated. In a few cases, outdated plots were completely rewritten.

Other writers of Nancy Drew volumes include Mildred Wirt Benson who created 23 novels. The role passed temporarily to Walter Karig who wrote three novels during the Great Depression. Also contributing to Nancy Drew’s prolific existence were Leslie McFarlane, James Duncan Lawrence, Nancy Axelrod, Priscilla Doll, Charles Strong, Alma Sasse, Wilhelmina Rankin, George Waller Jr., and Margaret Scherf.

In addition to the original Nancy Drew volumes, other series about the teenage sleuth include the “Nancy Drew Files,” “River Heights” spin-off, “Nancy Drew/Hardy Boys Super Mysteries,” “Nancy Drew Notebooks,” and “Nancy Drew On Campus.”

Nancy Drew made her cinema debut in 1938 and 1939 when Bonita Granville starred in four movies about the teenage detective. Forty years later, Nancy appeared on television in weekly mystery episodes starring Pamela Sue Martin, and later, Janet Louise Johnson. In 1996, Tracy Ryan starred in a revival series that combined the sleuthing talents of Nancy Drew with the Hardy Boys.

Edward Stratemeyer invented a character with a timeless quality. In the beginning years, Nancy Drew books were published at an astounding rate of one per month. Today, Simon and Schuster continues to match that output. As of 1993, Nancy Drew book sales reached 80 million copies and were printed in 14 languages. As demonstrated by the series’ longevity, Nancy Drew continues to be a favorite among loyal fans of all ages.


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