Who is Nancy Drew? Are you kidding me? She is only one of the all-time best girl sleuths ever!
Okay, okay. In all seriousness, she is the creation of a man named Edward Stratemeyer. This man clearly had some vision. With just an early character sketch and plot, he had formulated a nearly perfect young female heroine. One who would capture the imagination of readers, young and old, for generations to come.
Nancy Drew started her literary life as a plucky sixteen year old. Her father, Carson Drew, is already famous in the field of mystery, as an attorney. Thus, it’s only natural that Nancy would take up this interest in solving mysteries and setting the world to rights. Since then, Nancy Drew has been traipsing through a seemingly unending number of mysteries; over 500 at my last count, and her adventures have taken us from The Secret of the Old Clock to Sea of Darkness and everything in between.
Why Do We Love Nancy Drew?
The key to her success seems to rest in her self-possessed confidence, accompanied with a firm sense of fair play. Her sweet nature and amazing array of talents provide a positive, if somewhat unrealistic, role model for young women. Nancy drew can do anything she turns her hand to; whether it is sports, the arts, cooking, or the art of understanding human motivations. She is one of the first superwoman heroines to whom everything comes naturally.
Added to this, the poor girl lost her mother at the tender age of three (10 in earlier books). This instant tugging on our heartstrings only serves to make her achievements even more remarkable and courageous. It also makes her human, one of us, someone who has known life’s tragedies, yet continues to strive forward and greet each adventure with a sense of purpose and determination.
Nancy Drew Through the Years
As the years passed and attitudes towards women fluctuated, Nancy Drew’s character also seemed to change with each era she had to deal with. The main source of tension in readers familiar with the early incarnation of Nancy was that as the years moved on, her independent resilience seems to give way to something far less tomboyish.
Others saw it as a way of moving away from the values of the years in between the wars and making her more modern and relevant. She did seem to become less sassy as the decades rolled on into the eighties. Some have even pointed out that even the illustrations changed. Early drawings depicted Nancy as the center figure making proactive decisions in her hunt for clues and criminals. Then, in later books she is seen in more frightened poses, or images where she is being chased and pursued.
But, whatever the vagaries in fashions and attitudes, one thing has remained constant; Nancy Drew has a loyal and devoted fan base to which the books deliver on many levels. Not only is there the thrill and challenge of trying to work out who actually did it, but more importantly there is a positive and strong female figure at the helm, showing how good honest values of determination, persistence, and street smarts will prevail in the end.