Girl Sleuth

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The Story of the Women (and One Man) Who Created Nancy Drew
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This book is a bit of a mystery in itself: How did one middle-aged man invent Nancy Drew, a heroine popular for over 75 years--and as well-loved today as ever? Where did plucky, independent, intelligent Nancy Drew come from? In this fascinating book, we learn that the idea for the girl sleuth first came from the fertile mind of an author named Edward Stratemeyer (who initially called the series the "Stella Strong Stories"). Stratemeyer was not only a prolific author with an eye for what the public would buy but he came up with a brilliant scheme, which made him wealthy and helped him invent some legendary series. He wrote outlines for the series and hired ghostwriters to pen the books.

This is also the story of "Carolyn Keene," the author of the Nancy Drew series. Carolyn Keene is actually a pen name covering the ghost writers for the series. Initially the two "Carolyn Keene" writers were Mildred Wirt Benson and Harriet Stratemeyer Adams. The two women were ahead of their times, feministically speaking: independent and opinionated, each had zero problems with blazing a trail through a world run by men.

When the first Nancy Drew books were written by Mildred Wirt, she received $125 for each book--and no royalties! And that was before she had her pay slashed (Mildred wrote some Nancy Drew books for as little as $85).

In GIRL SLEUTH, we get to read the juicy details on the sometimes-clashing women behind Nancy Drew, watch the changes through the years in the characters and the plots, and remind ourselves of how much we enjoy the adventures of the famous girl detective and her chums.

Although the start of the book was the tiniest bit slow for me (chalk it up to too many beach reads), I was soon hooked on this entertaining and well-written story which cleared up so many puzzles about the series and writers. A definite must-read for Nancy Drew fans.

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