Thursday, May 11, 2017

Happy Birthday, Nancy Drew!

By Annette Cole Mastron, Communications Director for Southern Writers Magazine 

Admittedly, I'm a little late to the Nancy Drew birthday party. Eighty-Seven years ago in a time when girls had few book heroine role models the first Nancy Drew was released. Her first appearance in print on April 28, 1930, when original publisher Grosset & Dunlap released The Secret of the Old ClockThe Hidden Staircase, and The Bungalow Mystery. The adventures of a privileged super-sleuth girl who lives with her attorney father an aunt in the small fictional town of River Heights. Nancy Drew faces her each challenge with her "chums." 

The classic mystery series by Carolyn Keene (sort of). Nancy Drew is the mystery fiction series created by publisher Edward Stratemeyer. The books are ghostwritten by a number of authors and published under the collective pseudonym Carolyn Keene. Initially ghostwritten by Mildred Wirt Benson and revised by Harriet Stratemeyer Adams.

The Nancy Drew books were my favorites. They provided a distraction from a family move over the summer between3rd and 4th grade. I read those books endlessly. I never tired of the mysteries and feel it's why my favorite genre is mysteries and thrillers. 

As character, Kathleen Kelly says to Joe Fox, in the movie, You've Got Mail,  "It wasn't that she (Kathleen's mom) was just selling books, it was that she was helping people become whoever it was they were going to turn out to be. Because when you read a book as a child it becomes part of your identity in a way that no other reading in your whole life does..."

I remember loving the first three books that kicked off the series that has outlived the creators and authors of the series. My favorite was # 45 in the series, "The Spider Sapphire Mystery." This is the book description, "Thrilling, dangerous adventures confront Nancy Drew while on a safari in East Africa with a group of American college students. Excitement runs high as the teen-age detective delves into the theft of a fabulous sapphire formed by nature millions of years ago. The mystery starts in Nancy’s home town. Her lawyer father’s client, Floyd Ramsay, who fashions beautiful and unusual synthetic gems, is accused of stealing the magnificent spider sapphire and exhibiting it as his own creation. Mr. Ramsay’s enemies blackmail him and by their vicious acts try to deter Nancy from going on the safari." Who wouldn't want to go on this adventure?

Nancy Drew took me on adventures all over the world. This girl was her own heroine /protagonist in an era when most women were keepers of the home. Her keen intellect was often underestimated by "the bad guys." She used this to her advantage. These books taught me to decipher clues and observe the world around me. All the time spent reading each and every book was not wasted time. 

Happy Birthday Nancy Drew!

What was your favorite Nancy Drew book and why?

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