Frequently Asked Questions about Nancy Drew and Carolyn Keene
Just who is Nancy Drew?
She is a gutsy, smart, resourceful, independent and adventurous teenager living in the town of River Heights with her father, attorney Carson Drew. Since the death of Nancy’s mother when she was very young, the Drews’ housekeeper, Hannah Gruen, has been part of the family.
Nancy’s friends often take part in her adventures. The athletic and pragmatic George Fayne and her cousin, the more cautious Bess Marvin, make frequent appearances in these stories. Ned Nickerson is Nancy’s supportive boyfriend, and occasionally lends a helping hand when he’s home from Emerson College.
Who is the Nancy Drew author?
The author whose name appears on all the Nancy Drew books, Carolyn Keene, was a pseudonym created by Edward Stratemeyer.
The company that he founded in the early part of the century, the Stratemeyer Syndicate, produced over 1200 books, including Tom Swift®, the Bobbsey Twins®, Nancy Drew®, and the Hardy Boys®.
In 1929, prompted by the success of the Hardy Boys series, Stratemeyer sent an outline of a new girls’ mystery series to a young ghostwriter from Iowa, who completed the first three Nancy Drew mysteries. In 1930, The Secret of the Old Clock, The Hidden Staircase and The Bungalow Mystery appeared to immediate success.
That same year, Edward Stratemeyer died. His daughter Harriet Stratemeyer Adams assumed control of the syndicate and took a particular interest in the Nancy Drew books. Then, in 1959 and continuing for 18 years, she oversaw a revision of all the first 34 books to remove stereotypes and update the language and plots.
Many writers have penned Nancy Drew adventures. Adams herself eventually took over much of the writing until her death in 1982. In 1984, the syndicate was sold to Simon & Schuster.
Over the years, the Nancy Drew novels have continued to reflect changes in looks, styles and social mores. The intrinsic character of Nancy Drew however, is eternal; she’s a plucky, level-headed teenager dedicated to truth and justice. Today, Simon & Schuster publishes a new original Nancy Drew Mystery Story and Nancy Drew Notebook® every other month.
What is the appeal of this almost 90-year-old girl detective?
In 1993, The New York Times threw a front-page celebration of Nancy Drew’s sixty-third birthday, calling the character a “30s sleuth and 90s role-model.” Here’s what some of her more famous fans have to say about the teenage detective:
“Nancy,” said mystery writer Nancy Pickard in her introduction to the 1991 Applewood Books facsimile edition of The Hidden Staircase, “…is our bright heroine, chasing down the shadows, conquering our worst fears, giving us a glimpse of our brave and better selves, proving to everybody exactly how admirable and wonderful a thing it is to be a girl.”
“Nancy manages the almost impossible feat of being wholesomely ‘feminine’ — glamorous, gracious, stylish, tactful — while also proving herself strong, resourceful, and bold, the most independent of the girl sleuths. Nancy is a paradox, and she is also the most popular girl detective in the world,” says novelist Bobbie Ann Mason in her book The Girl Sleuth: On the Trail of Nancy Drew, Judy Bolton and Cherry Ames.
In her essay “Nancy Drew: A Moment in Feminist History,” the noted literary critic Carolyn G. Heilbrun praised the girl sleuth as “…a young woman who refuses to be a romance-obsessed sex object, and who takes risks on behalf of those in need of help…. She says a life of adventure is possible, and even noble.”
And Sara Paretsky in her essay, “Keeping Nancy Drew Alive,” offers this thought on Nancy Drew’s longevity:
“…little girls need to see a bigger girl act competently and solve problems they keep being told belong to boys. Even though today’s children can look at female spies, astronauts, doctors and other fictional heroes, they still need the girl detective to inspire them.”
How many cases has Nancy Drew solved? How many books has she sold?
Since her debut in 1930, Nancy Drew has solved over 350 cases and sold over 200 million books in 14 languages.
Who is the target audience for Mystery Net’s Nancy Drew Website?
Nancy Drew traditionally appeals to 8-12-year-old girls, and this site is geared to that audience. However, 8-12-year-old boys will also enjoy the site. Adult fans will discover interesting and thought-provoking essays, bibliographical information, and a complete online bookstore.