85 years of Nancy Drew detective stories: solving the mystery of the teen sleuth's timeless appeal - part 1
By Susanna Speier
Denver Private Investigator Blogger
The name, Nancy Drew along with the name of her pseudo author, Carolyn Keene, has been popping up in media a lot this year since 2015 marks the 85th anniversary of the fictitious teen detective. So how do you solve the mystery of why the young private eye has been around so long?
The Mary Sue, quoting Scholars Janice Radway and Nan Enstad, credited the series with providing “girls a “place to dream.” If that is, indeed, the case, Nancy Drew inspired dreamers could not boast a more impressive marquis. According to a recent MTV News article, the teen sleuth is credited for inspiring “Oprah Winfrey, Barbara Walters, Barbra Streisand, Hillary Clinton, and three Supreme Court Justices: Sandra Day O’Connor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Sonia Sotomayor.” They grew up when career options for women were decidedly limited, however. What about now?
Nancy Drew’s frequent BuzzFeed appearances ---in articles titled 15 Modern Mysteries Only Nancy Drew Could Solve, If Nancy Drew Had Instagram and the Which Nancy Drew Era Are You Quiz – could not be a stronger testament to the intrepid detective's millennial resonance. So what else is going on?
“One basic thing is independence and to help others in need,” explains the Nancy Drew fan club, Nancy Drew Sleuths founder, Jennifer Fisher when asked, in a phone interview, to explain what draws people to Nancy Drew.
The fan club is probably around 90 – 95% women, ranging in age from 20s to 50s. “We have nearly 700 members all around the country, Fisher said, “Quite a few from Canada. Germany, New Zealand, Singapore, Guam, France, Australia, Philippines the U.K.”
Well versed in the history of the series, Fisher goes on to explain how books were revised and changed over the years. “In old clock in the original version, she gets the clock and helps lead the chase for the police to catch the robbers and doesn’t reveal it to the police and sort of rationalizes that it’s not so much about the robbers and the need to help these downtrodden relatives written out of the will. In the revised version she turns the clock over but keeps the notebook in the clock. Overall, even then, she was respectful of the law.
In the 1930s she wasn’t always respectful of the police and thought they were bumbling idiots and couldn’t do anything right. When the books were revised she was more respectful of the police and they were more respectful of her. In earlier version they were a little dismissive and she would end up one-upping them at time. They didn’t treat her like an equal or colleague.”
Fisher also points out, “in the older version she would speed more. They would tone that down in later versions.”
Sign-up for email alerts to follow the latest developments in the world of private investigators.