The first Nancy Drew mystery debuted in 1930.

By Southern Living
February 05, 2020
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It's 2020, a year that ushers in a special anniversary in classic children's literature. That anniversary? The first appearance of Nancy Drew, who debuted 90 years ago. People across the country and throughout the world have read her stories, following along with the fictional sleuth as she unravels mysteries big and small. The first installment in the Nancy Drew Mystery Stories appeared in 1930, with many books, movies, and television adaptations appearing in the decades that followed.

Drew, a fictional character and the main protagonist of the Nancy Drew Mystery Stories, is a creation of publisher Edward Stratemeyer, who also created the Hardy Boys series. The first four Nancy Drew books—The Secret of the Old Clock, The Hidden Staircase, The Bungalow Mystery, and The Mystery at Lilac Inn—were all published in 1930. The books are attributed to Carolyn Keene, the collective pen name used by writers contributing to the series. Many of the Nancy Drew books were written by Mildred Wirt Benson, who was the first to use the pseudonym. Benson wrote the first seven volumes—which also include The Secret of Shadow Ranch, The Secret of Red Gate Farm, and The Clue in the Diary—as well as books 11 through 25. Stratemeyer's daughter, Harriet Stratemeyer Adams, also had a guiding hand in the series and wrote many story outlines as well as the manuscripts for books 33 through 56.

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Over nine decades, the series has become beloved by readers of all ages. Still a household name, Nancy Drew is known for her resourcefulness, attention to detail, and ability to solve any mystery she encounters. Other characters in the original series include her father, Carson Drew; her friends and sometime sleuths, Bess Marvin and George Fayne; her boyfriend, Ned Nickerson; and the Drew housekeeper, Hannah Gruen. Revisit the characters you grew up with and celebrate Nancy Drew's 90th birthday by rereading the series, which you can find at and

What's your favorite Nancy Drew mystery story? Have you shared the books with the young readers in your life?

This article originally appeared on Southern Living by Caroline Rogers.



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