The Quick 10: Nancy Drew
Nancy Drew looks pretty good for a gal who's been around for 80 years (80 years yesterday, to be precise), don't you think? And judging by the new line of books, the computer games, the video games and the movies (a sequel to the 2007 Emma Roberts movie has already been greenlighted), it doesn't look like she's slowing down anytime soon. And according to you guys, that's a good thing "“ from the comments, it looks like there are a lot of you who were budding sleuths back in the day who still look back on Miss Drew's adventures fondly. Here are a few facts about the girl who paved the way for Velma Dinkley and Veronica Mars.
1. Can you imagine being addicted to a series starring Diana Dare, Stella Strong, Nan Nelson or Helen Hale? Me neither. But those are a few names creator Edward Stratemeyer pitched before landing on Nancy Drew. The first choice was Nan Drew, actually, but his editors thought lengthening the name to "Nancy" made it roll off the tongue a little better.
2. Stratemeyer wrote all of the plot outlines, but he hired someone else to do the actual story writing for him. No, not Carolyn Keene (but you already knew that). Her name was Mildred Wirt and she was paid $125 to $250 for each book she wrote. She also received one fifth of the royalties from any book she had written. She didn't write all of them, but Wirt is largely regarded as having the most influence on how the character was formed.
3. Many very influential, powerful and intelligent women have cited Nancy Drew as one of their favorite books and even go so far as to say that the character helped them realize that women could do anything. This includes Sandra Day O'Connor, Sonia Sotomayor, Hilary Clinton, Laura Bush, Barbara Walters and Ruth Bader Ginsberg.
4. Fact #3 is rather funny and ironic, because creator Edward Stratemeyer actually felt that a woman's place was in the home. The only reason he created a female detective character was because he had found great success in the young male demographic with the Hardy Boys a few years earlier and wanted to tap into a female audience as well. Obviously Stratemeyer's old-fashioned views didn't influence his daughters "“ they both grew up to have controlling stakes in Stratemeyer Syndicate and wrote for various Stratemeyer's book series, including the Hardy Boys.
5. Stratemeyer Syndicate was responsible for a lot of children's book series, actually, not just the two I've already mentioned. So if some series from a certain era seem rather formulaic"¦ well, they were. Other Stratemeyer Syndicate series included The Bobbsey Twins, Tom Swift, The Dana Girls Mystery Stories and The Kay Tracey Mysteries.
6. In France, Nancy Drew has been renamed Alice Roy. She's Kitty Drew in Sweden and Paula Drew in Finland. The book is called Miss Detective in Norway, although inside the book she's still known as Nancy. And in Germany, Nancy is a law student who goes by the name Susanne Langen.
7. Aw, poor Ned Nickerson. He spends all of his time pining after Nancy, who isn't nearly as invested in the relationship as he is. In the first Nancy Drew silver screen adaptation (1938), even his name wasn't good enough "“ screenwriters thought the name "Ned" was dated and renamed him "Ted." And when Nancy finally got to go to college in 1995 in the Nancy Drew on Campus series, readers were invited to call a 1-800 number to vote on whether Nancy should keep dating Ned or start playing the field. Readers overwhelmingly voted for a new boyfriend and the rest of the series featured a new beau named Jake. Sorry, Ned.
8. Russell Tandy was the illustrator of the original series, creating dust jackets and internal illustrations for the first 26 books. But that was just one of his gigs: he also drew six Hardy Boys covers, served as a fashion illustrator for high-end department stores, illustrated for Butterick Patterns and also designed the Jantzen swimwear logo. Plus, he had friends in high places: he counted Ernest Hemingway, Salvador Dali and Norman Rockwell among his nearest and dearest.
9. Of all of the Nancy Drew books out there, sales show that the second book in the series, The Hidden Staircase, is the fan favorite. As of 2001, it had sold 1,821,457 copies, making it #68 on a list of top 100 all-time bestselling children's books. This puts Miss Drew ahead of other favorites such as Eloise, Charlotte's Web, Yertle the Turtle and Curious George.
10. There was some talk of updating Nancy for the recent movies, but in the end, it was decided that making her a spy girl with advanced technology and fancy gadgets entirely contradicted the entire being of Nancy Drew. But she has gotten a few timely enhancements: in the recent Nancy Drew: All New Girl Detective series published by Simon & Schuster, Nancy drives a blue hybrid instead of her iconic blue roadster, and she has a PDA now.
Nancy fans, did you have a favorite mystery? More importantly, did you have the same apathy toward Ned that everyone else seems to?