nancy at 90ish.


Happy 92nd birthday to Nancy Drew! The first volume in the long-running girl detective series, “The Secret of the Old Clock,” was published 92 years ago under the pseudonym Carolyn Keene. In a tribute to the iconic sleuth, author Theodore Jefferson writes, “Agency. It is that which forms the foundation for any hero’s ability to save the day. In America, agency for teenage girls in literature made its debut in 1930 in the person of Nancy Drew.” This original Mighty Girl character paved the way for many more heroic female characters and inspired generations of real-life girls and women.

Ghostwritten by Mildred Wirt Benson and later revised by Harriet Stratemeyer Adams, the first volume of Nancy Drew had a huge influence on young readers. Nancy Drew provided them with “stories of someone like themselves who had a positive effect on the world instead of passively sitting at home… She is a character with that magical ‘what if’ question woven into her identity, and one that effortlessly captures the imaginations of readers by allowing them to participate in a world where the answers to that question are just as entertaining as the stories themselves.”

At the time, some viewed Nancy Drew as a poor role model, “contradicting adults while she squared off with the villains… she is mechanically inclined and at the same time doesn’t act like most people in the 1930s would have expected a teenage girl to act.” In fact, many libraries and bookstores refused to carry the Nancy Drew stories. Despite — or because of — that disapproval, kids collected the books voraciously, and in the midst of the Depression, used copies were shared and traded like trading cards are today. As a result, “any kid, even those who couldn’t afford new books, would very likely get to read every adventure starring their favorite character.”

The tremendous influence of Nancy Drew continues to this day asserts Jefferson: “It is difficult to overstate how powerful Nancy Drew’s presence remains in literature and in other media. She has influenced film, comics, video games and animation for [90] years, and will continue to do so as long as teenage girls take the lead as our heroes in the imaginative worlds of adventure.”

i loved this book series and it inspired me to be part of a neighborhood gang of childhood detectives

(the four crows – see my post below)

and i am still a huge fan of true crime, not as a criminal,

but in trying to solve the who’s, why’s, and how’s.

On leaving work, at work…

“I don’t promise to forget the mystery, but I know I’ll have a marvelous time.”

-nancy drew


credits: theodore jefferson, the mary sue, mighty girl

82 responses »

  1. Wow so she is 92. She is always 16 for me. We used to get one book on Mondays in our school library and would rush to get her story that was 35 years ago 😀. She was my first women detective and will remain in my heart forever.

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  2. A new Nancy Drew book was the best birthday or Christmas gift I could have received when I was a kid. So glad she continued to “contradict adults” (in the best way, of course) and be a Mighty Girl for generations of girls.

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  3. I don’know how many times I read this particular book, but I loved the entire series. I have purchased them for my granddaughters, too. Nancy Drew was every young girl’s heroine. Her mysteries were so exciting to me.

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  4. Nancy Drew books were a large part of my childhood, and I believe my love of reading came from those books! I recently had the opportunity to get my hands on pristine hardback copies of the first and second stories. I wish I still had my entire series of books from my childhood! Thank you for sharing some of the history I wouldn’t have appreciated when I was younger but appreciate now!

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  5. Loved these books growing up. Once I started a book, I couldn’t stop until I finished it – resulting in many late nights. If I snacked on a little bit of chocolate while reading, that was heaven on earth! Thanks for your post!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I never read her. I didn’t get hooked on mysteries until Agatha Christie, but I visited my cousin at her nursing home last week, and one of her friends there told me that to this day, her favorite mysteries were still Nancy Drew’s.

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  7. She was the best! Every teenage girl secretly wanted to be Nancy Drew. I had all of her books. I think Amanda, the character in Darlene Foster’s book series, is just like Nancy Drew.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Wow, 90 years. Nancy is one of the few who are older than me!
    That was supposed to be funny!
    I read all the written books until I was around 16.
    It was a marvellous time, with Nancy.
    Thank you for this post, Beth!

    Liked by 2 people

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