Her loss is reflected in her early independence—running a household since the age of ten with a clear-cut servant in early series and deferring to the servant as a surrogate parent in later ones. As a teenager, she spends her time solving mysteries, some of which she stumbles upon and some of which begin as cases of her father's. Nancy is often assisted in solving mysteries by her two closest friends: cousins Bess Marvin and George Fayne.
Bess is delicate and feminine, while George is a tomboy. Nancy is also occasionally joined by her boyfriend Ned Nickerson , a student at Emerson College. Nancy is often described as a super girl. In the words of Bobbie Ann Mason , she is "as immaculate and self-possessed as a Miss America on tour.
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She is as cool as Mata Hari and as sweet as Betty Crocker. At sixteen she 'had studied psychology in school, and was familiar with the power of suggestion and association. She was a skilled driver who at sixteen 'flashed into the garage with a skill born of long practice. Nancy brilliantly played tennis and golf, and rode like a cowboy. Nancy danced like Ginger Rogers and could administer first aid like the Mayo brothers. Nancy is also able to travel freely about the United States, thanks in part to her car, which is a blue roadster in the original series and a blue convertible in the later books.
The character was conceived by Edward Stratemeyer , founder of the Stratemeyer Syndicate. In Stratemeyer created the Hardy Boys series although the first volumes were not published until , which was such a success that he decided on a similar series for girls, featuring an amateur girl detective as the heroine. While Stratemeyer believed that a woman's place was in the home,  he was aware that the Hardy Boys books were popular with girl readers and wished to capitalize on girls' interest in mysteries by offering a strong female heroine.
The first four titles were published in and were an immediate success. Exact sales figures are not available for the years prior to , but an indication of the books' popularity can be seen in a letter that Laura Harris, a Grosset and Dunlap editor, wrote to the Syndicate in "Can you let us have the manuscript as soon as possible, and no later than July 10? There will only be three or four titles brought out then and the Nancy Drew is one of the most important. She is a best seller. How she crashed a Valhalla that had been rigidly restricted to the male of her species is a mystery even to her publishers.
The character of Nancy Drew has gone through many permutations over the years. The Nancy Drew Mystery series was revised beginning in ;  with commentators agreeing that Nancy's character changed significantly from the original Nancy of the books written in the s and s. For more than six decades, her essence has remained intact. Convention has it that girls are passive, respectful, and emotional, but with the energy of a girl shot out of a cannon, Nancy bends conventions and acts out every girl's fantasies of power.
Other commentators see Nancy as "a paradox—which may be why feminists can laud her as a formative 'girl power' icon and conservatives can love her well-scrubbed middle-class values. The earliest Nancy Drew books were published as dark blue hardcovers with the titles stamped in orange lettering with dark blue outlines and no other images on the cover.
The covers went through several changes in early years: leaving the orange lettering with no outline and adding an orange silhouette of Nancy peering through a magnifying glass; then changing to a lighter blue board with dark blue lettering and silhouette; then changing the position of the title and silhouette on the front with black lettering and a more "modern" silhouette. Nancy Drew is depicted as an independent-minded year-old who has already completed her high school education 16 was the minimum age for graduation at the time ; the series also occurs over time, as she is 18 by the early s.
Apparently affluent her father is a successful lawyer , she maintains an active social, volunteer, and sleuthing schedule, as well as participating in athletics and the arts, but is never shown as working for a living or acquiring job skills. Nancy is affected neither by the Great Depression—although many of the characters in her early cases need assistance as they are poverty-stricken—nor by World War II.
Nancy lives with her lawyer father, Carson Drew, and their housekeeper, Mrs. Hannah Gruen. Some critics prefer the Nancy of these volumes, largely written by Mildred Benson. Benson is credited with "[breathing] This original Nancy is frequently outspoken and authoritative, so much so that Edward Stratemeyer told Benson that the character was "much too flip, and would never be well received. Mason contends that Nancy owes her popularity largely to "the appeal of her high-class advantages. The word dainty is a subversive affirmation of a feminized universe.
But adventure is the superstructure, domesticity the bedrock. Others argue that "Nancy, despite her traditionally feminine attributes, such as good looks, a variety of clothes for all social occasions, and an awareness of good housekeeping, is often praised for her seemingly masculine traits I must confess, though, that I love it.
Many other changes were relatively minor. The new books were bound in yellow with color illustrations on the front covers. Nancy's age was raised from 16 to 18, her mother was said to have died when Nancy was three, rather than ten, and other small changes were made. Critics saw this Nancy of the s, s, and s as an improvement in some ways, a step back in others: "In these new editions, an array of elements had been modified In an often overlooked alteration, however, the tomboyishness of the text's title character was also tamed.
Nancy becomes much more respectful of male authority figures in the s, s, and s, leading some to claim that the revised Nancy simply becomes too agreeable, and less distinctive, writing of her, "In the revised books, Nancy is relentlessly upbeat, puts up with her father's increasingly protective tendencies, and, when asked if she goes to church in the The Clue of the Tapping Heels , replies, 'As often as I can' Nancy learns to hold her tongue; she doesn't sass the dumb cops like she used to.
To test whether this would work, the final two novels before the sale, The Bluebeard Room and The Phantom of Venice , were used as backdoor pilots for the new series. The books read drastically different from the preceding novels of the past 55 years. You don't have to apologize to me if some guy turns you on. Won't you please let me explain. The Nancy Drew character of the Files series has earned mixed reviews among fans. Some contend that Nancy's character becomes "more like Mildred Wirt Benson's original heroine than any [version] since She is often pictured with an attentive, handsome male in the background, and frequently appears aware of and interested in that male.
Nancy also becomes more vulnerable, being often chloroformed into unconsciousness, or defenseless against chokeholds. The Files also launched its own spin off.
These books read more similar to soap opera books, such as the Sweet Valley High series. The On Campus books focus more on romance plots, and also centered around other characters; the mysteries were merely used as subplots. By reader request, Nancy broke off her long-term relationship with boyfriend Ned Nickerson in the second volume of the series, On Her Own The Files series ran until the end of , while both the Super Mystery and on Campus series ran until the beginning of The Nancy Drew of the Girl Detective series drives a hybrid car, uses a mobile phone, and recounts her mysteries in the first person.
Many applaud these changes, arguing that Nancy has not really changed at all other than learning to use a cell phone. Some, mostly fans, vociferously lament the changes, seeing Nancy as a silly, air-headed girl whose trivial adventures discovering who squished the zucchini in 's Without a Trace "hold a shallow mirror to a pre-teen's world.
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The character is also the heroine of a series of graphic novels , begun in and produced by Papercutz. The graphic novels are written by Stefan Petrucha and illustrated in manga -style artwork by Sho Murase. The character's graphic novel incarnation has been described as "a fun, sassy, modern-day teen who is still hot on the heels of criminals.
When the film was released, a non-canon novelization of the movie was written to look like the older books. A new book was written for each of the Girl Detective and Clue Crew series, both of which deal with a mystery on a movie set. In , the Girl Detective series was re-branded into trilogies with a model on the cover.
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These mysteries became deeper, with the mystery often spread across three books, and multiple culprits. These trilogies also met with negative fan reception due to Nancy's constant mistakes, shortness of the books, and lack of action. With the new trilogy format, sales began slipping.
In December , they finally announced that the series was cancelled along with the Hardy Boys Undercover Brothers series. With the sudden cancellation of the Girl Detective series, the Diaries series began in The series is similar to its predecessor, in that the books are narrated in first person, Nancy is still absent-minded and awkward, and references are made to pop culture and technology.
Consistent with other Stratemeyer Syndicate properties, the Nancy Drew novels were written by various writers, all under the pen name Carolyn Keene. The Syndicate was able to enlist the cooperation of libraries in hiding the ghostwriters' names; when Walter Karig , who wrote volumes eight through ten of the original Nancy Drew Mystery Stories , tried to claim rights with the Library of Congress in , the Syndicate instructed the Library of Congress not to reveal the names of any Nancy Drew authors, a move with which the Library of Congress complied.
The Syndicate's process for creating the Nancy Drew books consisted of creating a detailed plot outline, drafting a manuscript, and editing the manuscript. Edward Stratemeyer and his daughters Harriet Adams and Edna Stratemeyer Squier wrote most of the outlines for the original Nancy Drew series until Usually, other writers wrote the manuscripts. Most of the early volumes were written by Mildred Wirt Benson.
Strong , Iris Vinton,  and Patricia Doll. Edward Stratemeyer edited the first three volumes, and Harriet Adams edited most subsequent volumes until her death in In , the earlier titles were revised, largely by Adams.
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After Adams' death, series production was overseen by Nancy Axelrad who also wrote several volumes. Adams filed a countersuit, claiming the case was in poor taste and frivolous, and that, as author of the Nancy Drew series, she retained the rights to her work. Although Adams had written many of the titles after , and edited others, she claimed to be the author of all of the early titles.
In fact, she had rewritten the older titles and was not their original author. When Mildred Benson was called to testify about her work for the Syndicate, Benson's role in writing the manuscripts of early titles was revealed in court with extensive documentation, contradicting Adams' claims to authorship. The court ruled that Grosset had the rights to publish the original series as they were in print in , but did not own characters or trademarks.
Furthermore, any new publishers chosen by Adams were completely within their rights to print new titles.
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Nancy Drew has been illustrated by many artists over the years, and her look constantly updated. Both the Stratemeyer Syndicate and the books' publishers have exercised control over the way Nancy is depicted. Some aspects of Nancy's portrayal have remained relatively constant through the decades. Arguably her most characteristic physical depiction is that she is shown holding a flashlight.
Commercial artist Russell H. Tandy was the first artist to illustrate Nancy Drew. Tandy was a fashion artist and infused Nancy with a contemporary fashion sensibility: her early style is that of a flatfoot flapper : heeled Mary Janes accompany her blue flapper skirt suit and cloche hat on three of the first four volume dust jackets.
As styles changed over the next few years, Nancy began to appear in glamorous frocks, with immaculately set hair, pearls, matching hats, gloves, and handbags. Tandy read each text before he began sketching, so his early covers were closely connected to specific scenes in the plots.
He also hand-painted the cover lettering and designed the original Nancy Drew logo: a silhouette of Nancy bending slightly and looking at the ground through a quizzing glass.
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