My Homage to Nancy Drew – Girl Sleuth
I have loved mysteries since Scooby Doo and Nancy Drew. I was over the moon in 1977 when the “Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys” TV show debuted. (And it didn’t hurt that Shaun Cassidy played Joe Hardy.) My friends and I raced through all the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys collections at the Kempsville Public Library in Virginia Beach. My favorite is still The Crooked Bannister (1971) with its hot pink cover. I loved the plot twists and the double meanings. I was hooked on mysteries. From there, I moved on to Alfred Hitchcock, Agatha Christie, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. But Nancy Drew is still one of my favorite sleuths.
In the late 1980s, I had a double major in English and secondary education. My research project in “Adolescent Literature” was a comparative study of the original Nancy Drew mysteries from the 1930s with the updated ones in the 1980s and their influence on generations readers.
As a young reader, I adored Nancy’s freedom. She had a car. She did things that other girls didn’t, and she solved crimes that adults couldn’t. She influenced generations of women from the 1930s to the present with her spunk and enduring appeal.
The Nancy Drew mysteries were written by several ghost-writers under one pseudonym, Carolyn Keene. The series has undergone several revisions and updates over the years, but Nancy’s spirit and pluck prevail. The famous yellow spines were added to the books in 1962. That was the set that I remember reading. And her stories have been translated into over twenty different languages.
The girl detective appeared in several movies from the 1930s to the 2000s and TV shows through the years. Her face and logo have graced all kinds of merchandising from jewelry, lunch boxes, and clothing to board and video games. She has appeared in novels, coloring books, and graphic novels. Nancy has been a role-model for lots of young girls for over eighty years.
There are some similarities between the iconic Nancy Drew and my private investigator. I didn’t intentionally mean to create the parallels, but subconsciously, her character influenced my mystery writing. In the 1930s, Nancy started out as a blonde, but artists later depicted her as a redhead in the 1940s and 1950s. Nancy also drove a sporty roadster. (It was upgraded to a Mustang in the mysteries from the 1980s.) Nancy’s girlfriends (Bess and George) were important in her life and to the stories. And she was fearless, smart, and feisty. I was so impressed that she was able to solve crimes before the professionals did.
I like to think of Delanie Fitzgerald as following in the footprints and traditions of the original girl sleuth.