YOUNG WORLD

Growing up with Nancy Drew

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Growing up with Nancy Drew

She has turned 75, but remains the most popular teenage sleuth. This is about Nancy Drew who solved her first mystery, The Secret of the Old Clock, when she finds a hidden will, helps a whole lot of people and the wicked Tophams get their comeuppance. The book, with The Hidden Staircase and The Bungalow Mystery were published in 1930 and were runaway successes.

In 1950, the novels were revised and Nancy grew from 16 to 18 years; she drove a blue convertible instead of a roadster. The books themselves were longer. Politically incorrect views were also removed from the novels.

She is described as an attractive titian blonde with sparkling blue eyes. She stays in a lovely red brick colonial house in suburban River Heights. Her father, Carson Drew, is a successful criminal lawyer. Carson Drew treats Nancy like an equal and often takes her help and suggestions on cases. Nancy's mother died when she was three and the Drews' housekeeper, Hannah Gruen, has taken care of Nancy since then.

Nancy is rich enough to buy plane tickets without a qualm but is always gracious and well mannered even to a criminal.

In the earlier books, Nancy's best friend is Helen Archer. The Mystery of Shadow Ranch sees the introduction of the tomboyish dark haired George Fayne and her cousin, the blonde plump Bess Marvin. Bess and George are Nancy's constant companions through her 350 (and counting) detective stories.

Nancy meets her steady boyfriend, Ned Nickerson, studying in Emerson College, in The Clue in the Diary.

The books keep up with changing times — where Nancy used to wear a hat and gloves earlier, she wears jeans and t-shirts now.

Even the mysteries change from hidden wills and treasure to an eccentric inventor, with computers and robots as in The Crooked Bannister.

Growing up with Nancy Drew

In August 1986, the Nancy Drew Files was launched. Between 1995 and 1997 Nancy, Bess and George went to Wilder University as freshmen in a 25-book series called Nancy Drew on Campus.

For young readers, Nancy solves her first mysteries as a precocious eight-year-old in the Nancy Drew Notebooks which was published in September, 1994.

And Nancy has joined her comrades in crime busting, the Hardy Boys, in the Super Mystery series.

Carolyn Keene is a pseudonym for a host of writers. The original idea for the books came from Edward Stratemeyer. He owned the Stratemeyer Syndicate and published adventure stories for children including Hardy Boys and the Bobbsey Twins.

He gave the plot outline for The Secret of the Old Clock to Mildred A. Wirt Benson who wrote quite a number of the series.

After Stratemeyer's death, his daughter, Harriet Adams, took over the syndicate and also wrote some of the stories.

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