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Article about the original ghostwriter for the Nancy Drew series

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I thought this was a terrific profile of the woman who was the original ghostwriter of the Nancy Drew series. In all, Mildred Wirt Benson wrote 23 or the first 30 books, setting into place many of the characteristics that made Nancy, Nancy, in addition to her own well-regarded Penny Parker series. On top of that, she was a tough reporter, aviator, and world-traveler.

I got my love of the Nancy Drew books from my mom. I was very sad when my dad accidentally donated a huge box of books I wanted to save, which included these and many other mg and ya favorites from my youth. Alas.

Here's the link to the article appearing on Slate: http://www.slate.com/blogs/browbeat/2015/07/14/nancy_drew_ghostwriter_and_journalist_mildred_wirt_benson_flew_airplanes.html?xid=soc_socialflow_facebook_realsimple
#1 - July 19, 2015, 08:55 AM

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That's a cool article. I just packed up my daughters' bookshelf for moving, and thought we gave away many other series the girls were done with--I stuck the early Nancy Drews in the box to come along to our new house. :)
#2 - July 19, 2015, 09:43 AM

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Oh, I loved this! What an inspiring article. Thank you for sharing!!
#3 - July 19, 2015, 10:07 AM
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Thanks for sharing this with us, Jenna! I've read Melanie Rehak's "Girl Sleuth - Nancy Drew and the Women Who Created Her," referred to in the article. :detective It was fascinating to read the behind-the-scenes stories of the Nancy Drew series, and how the books have changed over the years.

And change they did - in many ways... "When Nancy Drew was introduced she wore cloche hats and gloves whenever she was out in public. In the '50's she changed to sport dresses and rompers and even - gasp - pants." Lol... :trench

I was surprised to learn that the books that I read in my youth were not the originals, but I understand that in the early 1990's, Applewood Publishing reintroduced the "original text" versions of the books. It would be interesting to compare the versions that I read to the ones that Mildred initially wrote...

Just wondering...
How did you - and any other Blueboarders - feel when you first learned that "Carolyn Keene" (or "Franklin W. Dixon") does not/never did exist? Do any of your children still read Nancy Drew (or Hardy Boys) books?
#4 - July 19, 2015, 12:15 PM
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Just wondering...
How did you - and any other Blueboarders - feel when you first learned that "Carolyn Keene" (or "Franklin W. Dixon") does not/never did exist? Do any of your children still read Nancy Drew (or Hardy Boys) books?

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I was very disillusioned upon learning about Carolyn Keene - - and it was only a few years ago, when I watched a stellar PBS documentary. Then again, "Carolyn" was a brilliant Mildred (at first, at least....), who *did* exist, so I got over it.

Funny you should ask about our children reading these books, as I asked my eight year-old daughter just two days ago if she'd ever read Nancy. She hasn't and your posting is a great reminder for me to pull a few volumes off my bookshelf for her!
#5 - July 20, 2015, 10:16 AM

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Great article Jenna. What a woman! My kids have enjoyed both Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew books and they weren't one bit disappointed that these were ghost-written. By the time they began reading these, they knew I was a WFH writer as well and it's all part of a good day's work. How fortunate are we to do what we enjoy!

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#6 - July 20, 2015, 11:42 AM
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Great article!

I too was a bit disappointed when I learned that "Carolyn Keene" didn't really exist, but I loved the books all the same. I started off reading my mother's battered old green ones (from the 50s I think-- were these the originals? Or were there older ones?)-- and then I got into a new paperback series (new-- now it would be about 25+ years old now). Has the series been updated since the late 80s? I imagine it has-- but, at 1 year old, my daughter is still too young to get started.

In other news, I came across a shop at a craft fair a couple of months ago-- a woman who made purses out of classic old books, and she had a few Nancy Drew purses! I didn't get one, and now I regret it!
#7 - July 20, 2015, 12:08 PM

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Awww, I also read my mom's (green? blue?) hardcovers, as well as the Bobbsey Twins and Cherry Ames. Alas.

I also found out relatively recently that they were ghost-written (I mean, I was an adult!) and was sort of shocked, then not so much. Now it's fun to know that the same author did so much to create the character of "Nancy Drew" as I first knew her, regardless of how she changed later (and I did not read all the books, for sure.)

So far, none of my kids have read them. 13yo said, "Well, we don't have any!" (because, I guess, that is the litmus test?), but also that she "started to read one but it was very boring." Sigh. This one is actually a big reader, so that was a bit of a blow for me. OTH, she just re-read The Long Winter, so I guess it's not all the "old" books she's against.

My bros had the Hardy Boys (same old-school hardbacks) but I never read them. Honestly, to my young self, their escapades seemed to pale in comparison to Nancy's!

Plus, who didn't want a "roadster"? As a kid, I never knew what that was. But wow! I really wanted one.
#8 - July 20, 2015, 05:09 PM

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I read Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys since Mom got them for my brother and me.  I also loved the Cherry Ames Student Nurse books, those were not as popular but great mysteries.
#9 - July 20, 2015, 05:13 PM
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Great article! My sister had Nancy Drew books; I had, thanks to my grandparents, a series called Honey Bunch and Norman. Anyone ever heard of them?

I was the younger sister, hence the younger series. But I always wanted those cool Nancy Drews instead of Honey Bunch. Who calls their kid that? Of course, the Nancy Drews were untouchable, tucked away in my sister's bookshelf...at least when I was little.
#10 - July 20, 2015, 05:30 PM

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 :bookclub Like a few of you, I was disappointed at first to learn that Carolyn Keene wasn't a real person. But I got over it quickly, and continued to enjoy reading Nancy Drew. Although I certainly didn't read all of the books in the series, I got hooked as soon as I began reading my first one. I loved the way that these books allowed me to "get to know" the characters.

I never did try reading the Hardy Boys books, but my husband and his brothers really liked them. Just a few years ago, we both found out about the changes that had been made to the books, and I think that this made us more sad than learning the true identity of the series' authors.

Jenna and Cathie:
I remember the Cherry Ames books, vaguely. My all-time favourite was Nancy.


I too was a bit disappointed when I learned that "Carolyn Keene" didn't really exist, but I loved the books all the same. I started off reading my mother's battered old green ones (from the 50s I think-- were these the originals? Or were there older ones?)-- and then I got into a new paperback series (new-- now it would be about 25+ years old now). Has the series been updated since the late 80s? I imagine it has-- but, at 1 year old, my daughter is still too young to get started.

In other news, I came across a shop at a craft fair a couple of months ago-- a woman who made purses out of classic old books, and she had a few Nancy Drew purses! I didn't get one, and now I regret it!

Nina:
I understand that the original Nancy Drew books were written in the 1930's, and they - along with the Hardy Boys and Bobbsey Twins (which began in the early 1900's) - were updated in the late 1950's. So, you may have read the originals. (I'm not sure what colour the various versions were...) The ones that I read were from the 1970's, so they were definitely the revised versions (they had yellow covers).

Also, when the books were originally written, their target audience was teens. Over time, this has changed, and they're now being written to appeal to younger readers. The current ones are written for 8-12 year-olds, and Nancy, herself, is a student in elementary school.

I agree, Jenna, a ride in a "roadster" would be fun! :car We'd have to bring along our Nancy Drew purses, Nina! ::-)


#11 - July 25, 2015, 11:40 AM
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Great article! My sister had Nancy Drew books; I had, thanks to my grandparents, a series called Honey Bunch and Norman. Anyone ever heard of them?

I've never heard of Honey Bunch, but the Stratemeyer Syndicate sure published a lot of different series, eh!

I was the younger sister, hence the younger series. But I always wanted those cool Nancy Drews instead of Honey Bunch. Who calls their kid that?

Too funny, JFriday!  :lol5

I was very disillusioned upon learning about Carolyn Keene - - and it was only a few years ago, when I watched a stellar PBS documentary. Then again, "Carolyn" was a brilliant Mildred (at first, at least....), who *did* exist, so I got over it.

Carrots:
I would LOVE to see that documentary! Do you remember the name of it?
 :studia
#12 - July 25, 2015, 11:49 AM
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Thank you for sharing such a great article, Jenna!  :like  :thankyou

Hugs
#13 - August 01, 2015, 07:25 AM

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