Book Article

Mysteries Solved

New book reopens long-running case of Nancy Drew. 'Girl Sleuth' offers a few clues to the teen detective’s true origins

America's favorite titian-haired teen sleuth was pretty and perky, with a snappy roadster, a blond boyfriend, and two stalwart chums. In Girl Sleuth: Nancy Drew and the Women Who Created Her, critic Melanie Rehak cracks the case of the series' origins.

• Nancy was the brainchild of a middle-aged man: Edward Stratemeyer, head of a successful children's publisher, outlined the first five books in 1929.

• Before settling on the name Nancy Drew, Stratemeyer considered Nell Cody, Stella Strong, Nan Nelson, and Diana Dare.

• Edward's daughter Harriet Stratemeyer Adams dictated most details of Nancy's personality (''Enjoys all types of games, especially golf''; ''wears the color blue a great deal''; ''very much dislikes to eat squash'').

• Author Carolyn Keene didn't exist: The books were penned by ghostwriters, primarily Iowa-born journalist Mildred Benson. By 1993, she said, ''I'm so sick of Nancy Drew I could vomit.''

Originally posted Sep 09, 2005 Published in issue #840 Sep 16, 2005 Order article reprints