The book that started it all: The Secret of the Old Clock, the first Nancy Drew adventure, with its original 1930 cover art.
The reigning queen of long-running
franchises, Nancy Drew
has been around in one form or another for over eighty years.
It started as a series of young adult mystery novels, the first of which was published in 1930 by the Stratemeyer Syndicate
. The premise is simple enough: Nancy Drew is a young teenage girl, who alongside her friends Bess and George (and sometimes her boyfriend Ned Nickerson), solves mysteries. The original series ran from 1930 all the way to 2003, consisting of 175 books in total. A sequel series, Girl Detective
, was published from 2004 to 2012, before being rebooted as the Nancy Drew Diaries
in 2013. Along the way, a large number of spinoff book series of varying canon status were published. Between all the different series and spinoffs, the number of books totals at over four hundred
, and still counting.
One of the most noteworthy traits of the original books is that they were periodically re-written every few decades
to reflect changing cultural values. This has produced mixed views; on one hand, this did get rid of a lot of racist stereotypes and other Values Dissonance
issues that were in the original versions. On the other hand, the changes were also criticized for making Nancy herself less assertive, and simplifying the plot of many of the books. That being said, a large number of powerful and influential women, including politician Hillary Rodham Clinton, journalist Barbara Walters, and no less than three female current and former Supreme Court Justices have mentioned not only being fans, but inspired by Nancy to enter what were considered traditionally masculine fields such as politics, journalism, and law. As a result, feminists tend to have a love/hate relationship with the franchise.
Besides the books, there have been quite a few other adaptations. In the late 1930s, there was a series of four film adaptations, which were widely criticized at the time for being In Name Only
(and have mostly been forgotten since). In 2002 there was a television movie, and in 2007 there was a more tongue-in-cheek film adaptation
, poking fun at the 1950s incarnation of Nancy. There were two television series starring Nancy. A series of Nancy Drew
point-and-click Adventure Games
has been in production since 1998. More recently, a comic book series was published by Papercutz, starting in 2005. There has also been occasional lines of merchandise throughout the decades.
With the variety of media and the sheer popularity of the franchise, Nancy Drew will likely be around for decades to come.
Works in this franchise (dates of publication/release are in parentheses) include:Comic BookFilm
- The four 1930s films, starring Bonita Granville as Nancy note :
- Nancy Drew: Detective (1938)
- Nancy Drew...Reporter (1939) note
- Nancy Drew: Trouble Shooter (1939)
- Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase (1939) note
- Nancy Drew: A Made-for-TV Movie. It was supposed to be a Pilot Movie for a TV series on ABC Family that never materialized. (2002)
- Nancy Drew: The most recent film adaptation. (2007)
- Nancy Drew: The book series that started it all. (1930-2003)
- Girl Detective: The sequel series. (2004-2012)
- Nancy Drew Diaries: A reboot of Girl Detective. (2013-present)
Live-Action TVVideo Games
- The Nancy Drew Files: A Darker and Edgier mystery series. (1986-1997)
- Nancy Drew Notebooks: A Spin-Off Babies series. (1994-2005)
- Nancy Drew and the Clue Crew: Another Spin-Off Babies series. (2006-2014)
- Nancy Drew Clue Book: A reboot of Clue Crew. (2015-present)
- Nancy Drew On Campus: Exactly What It Says on the Tin, as Nancy attends college. Focuses on social issues and Coming of Age, instead of mysteries. (1995-1998).
- River Heights: A series of romance novels focused on Nancy's hometown. Nancy herself is a background character here, instead of a protagonist. (1989-1992)