Nancy Drew: 85 Years and Still Sleuthing and Inspiring Generations


There’s just something about Nancy Drew. Nancy Drew boldly leaped onto the scene in 1930 and has dazzled generations of fans ever since – from books to TV and movies to video games. As pure unadulterated entertainment for the 8 to 12 set, many adults have fond memories of late nights under their bedcovers with a flashlight in hand following Nancy on spooky adventures, tangling with dastardly villains, and saving the world one baffling case at a time–all while Nancy sported the latest frocks and fabulous heels. 

So what is it about Nancy Drew that has kept her readers so enthralled for 85 years? Nancy is smart and sophisticated, independent, fashionable–truly fearless. Nancy Drew is an embodiment of all of these qualities that many of us – particularly girls and young women — aspire to possess. She has trailblazed through the ages, and now celebrates her 85th anniversary on April 28. It was on this day in 1930 that the first three Nancy Drew books – The Secret of the Old Clock, The Hidden Staircase, and The Bungalow Mystery were published, introducing a character that was fated to become mystery’s “IT Girl.”

Her fate, however, was no mystery considering who helped characterize and give life to Nancy Drew – her original ghostwriter, Mildred A. Wirt Benson, writing under the pseudonym of Carolyn Keene. Edward Stratemeyer who ran the Stratemeyer Syndicate, a book packager who hired ghosts to write books based on his plots and outlines, created the series and character. A 24-year-old Benson was the perfect fit to realize Stratemeyer’s vision of Nancy Drew. Benson grew up much like Nancy Drew in her native Iowa with lots of freedom to explore and forge her own adventures. Benson wrote 23 of the first 30 Nancy Drew books and gave Nancy Drew a healthy dose of pluck and vigor. 

Supreme Court Justices, lawyers, detectives, librarians and teachers, authors–you name it–have been inspired by and pay homage to Nancy Drew. No matter how difficult the mystery was or how many thrilling cliffhangers found Nancy in peril, Nancy relied on her wits and intuition as she raced off on adventures in her snappy blue roadster. She’s a  mixture of grace and gumption–a timeless character whose appeal continues to enthrall as she has expanded from books to award-winning interactive games. 

Her Interactive brought Nancy to digital life with their mystery game series. She’s a perfect fit for the interactive medium as now players can control Nancy in order to solve the mysteries. This May, their latest Nancy Drew game, Nancy Drew: Sea of Darkness, will launch. Set in Iceland, Nancy is caught up in a brand new mystery as the captain of a celebrated ship goes missing in the night.  

Nancy has been featured in more than 500 books, published in 27 languages around the world and she shows no signs of slowing down. Her largest fan organization, the Nancy Drew Sleuths, will gather in Iowa City this week to celebrate the 85th anniversary of Nancy Drew and the110th anniversary of Benson’s birth. And we can’t wait to see what she has in store for the next 85 years.

For more information about the Nancy Drew Sleuths and the Iowa convention, visit For more information about the latest Nancy Drew games or to pre-order the new Nancy Drew: Sea of Darkness, visit