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Girl Sleuth: Nancy Drew and the Women Who Created Her

by Melanie Rehak

Published by Harcourt

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In 1930 a plucky girl detective stepped out of her shiny blue roadster, dressed in a smart tweed suit, ready to restore a stolen inheritance to its rightful owner. Later, tied up by the villains, she managed to free herself and bring them to justice -- all while wearing a pencil skirt and high heels. Eighty million books later, Nancy Drew has survived the Depression, World War II,  and the sixties (when she was taken up with a vengeance by women's libbers), and emerged as beloved by girls today as she was by their grandmothers. Now, in a narrative with all the fast-paced thrill of one of Nancy's adventures, Melanie Rehak solves a page-turning literary mystery: Who created Nancy Drew? And how did she go from pulp heroine to American icon?

With ebullience, wit, and a wealth of little-known source material, Rehak weaves a behind-the-scenes history of Nancy and her groundbreaking creators. Taking us from The Secret of the Old Clock to Secret of the Spa, Rehak tells all about our fearless sleuth -- including the fact that both Nancy and her "author," Carolyn Keene, were invented by Edward Stratemeyer, a dime-novel genius who also created the Bobbsey Twins and the Hardy Boys. But Nancy Drew was actually brought to life by two remarkable women: original author Mildred Wirt Benson, a convention-flouting Midwestern journalist, and Harriet Stratemeyer Adams, a wife and mother who transformed herself into a CEO to run her father's company after he died. Together, Benson and Adams created a character that has inspired generations of girls to be as strong-willed and as bold as they were.

Melanie Rehak will send you back to your old Nancy Drews -- but thanks to Girl Sleuth you'll never read them the same way again.


pub date: 2005-09-12 | hardcover | 9780151010417