Nancy Drew Celebrates 80th Anniversary

Special edition book of groundbreaking girl detective released.

April 28, 2010— -- If Nancy Drew, amateur sleuth, were a real person, she would be 98 today.

On April 28, 1930, the 18-year-old girl detective who lives with her attorney father and housekeeper in River Heights, USA, made her debut -- and she has been thrilling readers ever since.

To mark the occasion, original Drew publisher Grosset & Dunlap is releasing an 80th anniversary edition of the first book, "The Secret of the Old Clock." The book will be a reprinting of the 1959 edition, which made slight editorial changes to the 1930 edition to remove racial stereotypes.

Not only does Nancy solve the toughest crimes in River Heights, but her witty ways have also inspired some of today's most groundbreaking and important women.

A recent USA Today article on the female sleuth said that she was an influence on "all three women who have served on the Supreme Court including Sandra Day O'Connor, Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Sonia Sotomayor."

It's Been a Long Time: Nancy Changes

The Nancy Drew character was originally created by Ernest Stratemeyer, who also thought up the brother detectives "The Hardy Boys." Although many different ghostwriters have written Drew's adventures, the author's name always appears as Carolyn Keene, a tradition since the 1930 original.

In 2003, Simon & Schuster decided to update Drew in the new series called "Nancy Drew: All New Girl Detective."

"Simon & Schuster brought the series into the present times by giving Nancy a PDA and a blue hybrid car [instead of her famous blue roadster]," Emily Lawrence, the editor of the Nancy Drew books at current publisher Simon & Schuster told "Her best friends Bess and George are still around. Bess is more of a gear-head then she was before; she is savvier and has knowledge of all things mechanical. George is still a tomboy, but now she is on the cutting edge of the Internet."

Lawrence added, "Girls today love Nancy Drew because of the same things that always made her attractive. She is smart, independent and ahead of the times. She uses technology that kids are familiar with to solve her crimes."


Even though Nancy Drew is definitely over the hill, she is still beloved by her many avid fans.

Caroline Rubrecht, a high school senior, told that she started reading Drew books in the 3rd grade.

"The first book I read was "The Spiral Staircase," Rubrecht said. "It was and still is my favorite Nancy Drew book. So many nights were spent reading those books."

"I read all of her books as a girl in elementary, middle and high school," another reader, Stephanie Wally, told "Now, I enjoy the Nancy Drew video games!"

Karen Finlay told that she read her first Nancy book, "The Mystery of Lilac Inn," when she was 8.

"That day, the entire world opened up to mysterious possibilities: hidden staircases, secret panels, secret wills tucked into clocks and striving to get and read every Nancy Drew book ever written," Finlay said. "I still pick them up and read them, instantly transporting me back to that innocent and wonderful time before junior high school angst and assigned 'serious' reading."

Still Relevant?

Fans strongly believe that Nancy Drew still has multiple personality traits and qualities that can speak to today's youth. They also said that no other female sleuth could ever fill her detective shoes.

"Nancy Drew was my role model; she always followed her heart," Rubrecht said. "No I don't think anyone could replace Nancy Drew as a girl detective. My grandmother read them, my mother read them, and I read them. Nancy Drew has successfully lasted the test of time. I think it has something to do with that titian hair, fearlessness, and great ambition to help everyone, and do what is right."

"Nancy was and is an independent, inquisitive, and brave young lady," Wally agreed. "What a role model!"

Some critics have called Drew an anti-feminist character because she is obviously supported by her lawyer father and is 18, out of school and has no job except solving mysteries. Finlay said that idea couldn't be further from the true Drew.

More Nancy Drew to Come

"The thought of a young woman striking out on her own with her chums to make the world a better, safer place was and still is revolutionary," Finlay said. "While the emergency $5 she always kept in her pocketbook has gone up thanks to inflation, she still teaches new generations to think on their feet. She has a cell phone and probably tweets. She is cool no matter the decade."

Fans of the girl detective can officially rest easy knowing that they haven't heard the last Nancy Drew tale.

"We put out three new Nancy books a year and that will be ongoing throughout 2010," Lawrence said.

Then, when asked if Nancy could make it to a hundred, Lawrence said, "Sure!"

"We have absolutely no plans to shut her down anytime soon."