2018 A to Z: B… All About Nancy Drew

2018 A to Z: B… All About Nancy Drew

B glassIn 2016 I learned of the first annual April A to Z… it immediately intrigued me and I began racking my brain for a theme. After much reading, and thinking… I finally came up with the theme of Southern Foods and Memories… it said to write what you know! When April of 2017 rolled around, I decided to share Conversations with Mama to the world… the best of my on-going blog post that has generated from nightly talks to my mother. It’s now 2018 and as Nancy Drew has been on my mind… since I began re-building my collection back… well, I hope you will join me in celebrating All about Nancy Drew during the A to Z Blog Hop!


B is for Books, and Birthday


yellow spineThe first Nancy Drew “book” appeared in print on April 28, 1930… just twenty-two days after my mother was born. Although the character of Nancy Drew was technically “born”, she was born at age sixteen, then later aged to 18 when they did revisions, and many years later, she regressed back to age eight in the Nancy Drew Clues Crew! We all wish we could go back and be that eight –  year old again… but it seems only Nancy can accomplish that!

My mother loved reading Nancy Drew as a young girl and always wanted to be a girl detective just like Nancy… solving cases! Each book she read, and every step Nancy took… Mama envisioned herself right alongside her. She often tells me today of how she wanted to become a detective… a detective on the hunt for cheating husbands, working only for women! I bet she would have been good at it…


Nancy Drew Mystery Stories (1930 – 2003)

The original Nancy Drew Mystery Stories, which began in 1930…  finally ended in 2003. While no more “new” mystery stories in that line of books are written, they still remain in print… as new Nancy Drew fans are born every day! When one door closes, another opens… and in that same year of 2003, another series started and like a domino effect, it goes on and on!

The first “original” book volumes 1-34 (1930 – 1956) were written with 25 chapters and over 200 plus pages. “Original” volumes 35-56 (1959 – 1979) were only published with 20 chapters and a lesser amount of pages, around 180. Why… like any other company… cutting costs and saving money! They also argued the point, that the books needed to be brought into the modern world, bringing the language and slang lingo up to date for the new readers. In that respect… I wonder if I would have followed Nancy in her blue roadster just as well as the blue convertible?


The spines of Nancy Drew have had many faces throughout the years… more than I ever knew when I read as a young girl. What’s your favorite? Mine was always the “yellow spines”, but as of late, I’m also loving the dust jackets! What I love about the dust jackets is that they are often different covers from the yellow spines and have more info to gleam on the back jacket. Photo courtesy of series-books.com 

The “white spine” pictured above only debuted only on the first 22 volumes of Nancy Drew, then was changed to a wraparound dust jacket (23-38)… carrying the front art to wrap around the spine. I first thought “white spines” were a form of books like the “yellow spines”… but now I know they were one of the first dust jacket books. Don’t you love the many faces of Nancy through the years?

In 1959, the Syndicate decided to rewrite the first 34 books,  revising them from their original 25 chapters, down to 20 chapters, as the later books were being written. It was Mildred W. Benson along with Stratemeyer’s daughter Harriet, who took upon that task! More on the revisions for Letter R… stay tuned!

Dust jackets were issued for the first 38 Nancy Drew books published by the most well-known first publisher – Grosset and Dunlap… the only one I ever remember on the spine; dust jackets finally ended in 1961. Even though they were still printing books with dust jackets up until 1961, they were also printing the volume books in a matte finish with artwork directly on the cover, the yellow spines… the ones I grew up with.

The “first editions” in 1930 and 1931 didn’t have the silhouette printed on the front of the blue tweed book, but they did come with dust jackets; even the first papers also were blank. The orange silhouette soon replaced the blank cover on the 1st books, and by 1932 the blue Nancy silhouette was introduced in volume 7. I wonder why the color changes? Maybe they wanted to stay with one color… using variations of blue.


The “Faces of Blue” of Nancy Drew through the years of the 1930’s through the 1940’s: Photo courtesy of series-books.com 

And if I haven’t confused you yet, most of those early books had their artwork changed when they began printing the covers in the matte finish. Why…. to update the art used from the early books and continue to bring Nancy into the modern world…. encouraging new readers to read her stories. Maybe it was that reason… that has kept Nancy alive through the years.

Nancy Drew “Matte Finish” (1959 – 1986)

yellow spines

The “yellow spine” Nancy Drews which I love the most!

All the Nancy Drew Mystery Stories were reprinted in the matte finish beginning in 1959… all the early originals were revised bringing Nancy into a new time zone… wearing more in-fashion clothing, using updated technology and driving a new convertible, but never weaning too far away from the color blue.

Those matte finish “yellow spine” books were the Nancy Drew’s I grew up with in the sixties! I remember making a “beeline” to the book department whenever I went with Mama to K-Mart in Macon, GA; there was never a fuss about having to go…. and Mama never refused to buy me a new book. The problem came, in deciding which “new” book to bring home, but I’m sure she occasionally treated me to two books on many trips. I’ve never been one who made up my mind very easily… and being the only child, well it had its advantages… at times!

Nancy Drew Paperback Editions (1979 – 2003)

The original Nancy Drew Mystery Series basically ended with volume 56, at least with my favorite “yellow spine” books, but the series continued even when the publisher changed over to Simon and Schuster; they then printed volumes 57 through 175 in paperback. At some point, near the end of the last printing, it’s said the books changed back to everyone’s favorite “yellow spine“… don’t hold me to that though, as I haven’t found any yet…. but I’m still on the hunt, just like Nancy would be! The “yellow spine” is my all-time favorite… isn’t it yours? Finally, in 2003, the paperbacks of Nancy Drew Mystery Stories were discontinued, but still in print today…. just no more new stories! I’ve even begun finding a few of the flashlight hardcovers from Vol. 57 through 63 that I read about that were printed as a flashlight hardcover. I’ve also read that there were some also printed as the famous yellow-spine editions…  I’ll never stop looking for them!

Libraries were often the only source for many girls to read Nancy Drew in the early 1930’s, as they couldn’t afford to actually own a copy. My mother was one of those very girls… wanting to read, but she knew that her father, a hard-working farmer, wasn’t going to be able to buy them for her. But she was lucky enough to have a friend in town whose mother bought her all the Nancy Drew books and she loaned them to my mother to read.

I often buy copies that have circulated in libraries, as I enjoy checking out the library cards in them to see how many girls have checked out the books. There are also “library editions” that have now become collectible. They printed special books for the libraries that often had a different look from the books bought. You can read more in detail about them at nancydrewsleuth.com, and series-books.com.

In the newer paperbacks, Nancy now drives a blue Mustang convertible…  a girl after my own heart! My first car when I turned 16 was a 1965 yellow Mustang that Granddaddy McKinley bought for me for $500 dollars… oh how I wish I had kept it!  Often Nancy’s hair is now referred to as sometimes blonde, sometimes reddish-blond, and sometimes Titan. Just like us girls today, one day – one color, and another day… another color!

While I haven’t bought any of these new paperbacks… something about reading a “Nancy” in paperback, well it just hasn’t grabbed me, but If I find a few… I might just have to bring them home and give them a read.

Maybe one day, a “new” Nancy book will come on the scenes, after all, she’s been written now as an eight-year-old, and a 16/18-year-old…. don’t we need another series to cover the space between 8 to maybe 16? Or even let Nancy grow up into a woman, marry Ned, have children and the entire family help in her mystery hunting. Do you want to see her marry Ned, and finally share more information on her mother and her grandparents?

Nancy Drew “Flashlight Editions” (1986 – )

In 1986, once again, they changed the book cover of Nancy Drew to a glossy cover and added a “flashlight” symbol on the front cover, back cover and even the spine; now known as the “Flashlight Editions.” When I first began my hunt for Nancy Drew, I was confused whenever I read the word “flashlight”, in regards to the Nancy Drew books… I had no clue what they were talking about until I found one and examined it closely. I guess I should have asked Nancy, “what’s with the flashlight?” Did the publisher think he had to tell us to use a “flashlight” for reading under the covers… didn’t we all read that way?

So if you’re a Nancy Drew collector… is this another series you’ll want to collect! How many editions are we going to end up with… at least three of each type of series… if you’re lucky enough to be able to find all the originals… and afford them… and find a place to display them in your house. Did I say only three of each type…. believe me there are more!

Do you have children today reading Nancy Drew Flashlight books… are you still reading your vintage Nancy Drew’s… love to hear from you – what’s your favorite book?

The Nancy Drew Files (1986 – 1997)

I was too busy raising my two children during the printing of this series, and at this point in my life, I probably thought that they were too childish for me to have even think about reading again; maybe today I read them as it brings me back to a simpler time of when I was a child, laying on grandmama’s quilt outside, without a care in the world other than reading my newest Nancy Drew book! They published 124 titles in this series… never changing the artwork on reprints so that makes it easier if you search them out to collect. In looking at the covers, you’ll notice a much different looking Nancy; they have aged her into quite a changed teenager than how I remember on my favorite books of the sixties. Ned, her old boyfriend, is still around but in more of an on-again, off-again, relationship. These “Files” have taken on a twist as she is now solving mysteries involving murder! I’ll be keeping my eye open to at least find one book in this series to read and ponder on!

Nancy Drew Applewood’s (1991 – 2007)

Back wrapper Applewood books

Applewood Books printed volumes 1 – 21 in their original classic format from the 1930’s… which means that they printed them exactly as your mother and grandmother read. They were the 25 chapter books with the solid blue tweed covers featuring the Nancy Drew silhouette; surrounded with a dust jacket of Nancy dressed much different than the later books… dressed for the time period of when written. I love how they printed the original artwork on the dust jackets. After reading the original text (OT), they are a much better read than the revised (RT). I grew up on the revised books… never even knowing that the early ones my mother read were a completely different read!

They weren’t necessarily reprinted for the new readers, but instead printed, targeted for the nostalgic audience like me… wanting to read the original text of the first twenty-one, not the revised flashlight editions published today. The Applewood Book Company first undertook a marketing survey similar to the old Coke vs Pepsi survey. They printed cards with both the original text and the newly updated text and surveyed readers at an American Booksellers Association meeting. The “original text” won “hands down“! I guess that settled it… as to what the readers wanted. The presses soon began rolling the original books out, complete with dust jackets just as the original ones. They didn’t continue printing beyond Vol. 21 as the sales weren’t as strong as they thought they’d be.

It took me a while to understand what the Applewood books were when I first read about them, but it finally sunk in! The Applewood Book Company began their business to bring back what had once been printed… bringing back the originals as remembered from our mother’s childhood. They reprinted the first 21 Nancy Drew in her original form of white spines, and the artwork on the dust jackets depicting Nancy with her flapper clothing and cloche hat… slightly pulled down to the side… and driving her roadster; my mother remembered that roadster, she is the same age as Nancy Drew, and those were the books she read!

The Applewoods sold new for $14.95 and have become wanted and extremely sought after now… me included! As these books are now out of print, they are considered as “wants” by collectors… just like the original Nancy Drew books. Maybe there are more Nancy Drew collectors now, then when they first printed them.


I own 7 Applewood’s, but hoping to add more to my collection!

Nancy Drew Library & Book Club Editions

There are several “library” type editions, so many that I’m not even going to try and write on them, but if you are interested… search out the websites of either Jenn Fisher or Jennifer White – search their names along with Nancy Drew’s name and you’ll be rewarded with more information than you’ve ever imagined! They both have researched “everything” on Nancy Drew for several years, and have very knowledgeable websites where they buy, sell and promote “everything” Nancy Drew. Jennifer Fisher runs a Nancy Drew convention every year, with this year, at this writing, in Key West, Florida; last years convention was in Ogunquit, Maine! I so wanted to go last year, but had already planned a vacation to Vermont with hubby…. almost took a detour over for the day, but…

Besides the library editions, there are also several “book club” editions with various covers, even some with two books in one! In 1970, the very year I graduated, they published a Twin Thriller book club edition… Imagine, I could have bought one… brand new! But other things were on my mind, and Nancy had been packed away, only to emerge again when I turned…! I’ve already found a few for my collection!

Mama just recently bought me one of the book club editions with two stories in one book… Read one story, then flip the book over for a new cover and story. I have to be careful when telling my mother I’m looking for something as I might arrive at her house and find “piles” of Nancy Drew books waiting for me! It wouldn’t be a bad thing, but I enjoy the hunt…

Nancy Drew – Foreign Editions

Can you believe that our beloved Nancy Drew was printed in up to 25 languages around the world? Probably about the only one I’d be able to read is the one printed in the U.K., and while British-English isn’t considered a real language change, the British Nancy books are still referred to as a foreign edition. They translated, somewhat… some of the text to be more recognizable for the U. K. girls. Our word of flashlight would transpose into “torch” and who in the U.K. refers to an elevator, it’s a “lift“… silly girl! I bet Hannah would have served Nancy “fish and chips” every Saturday night!

Nancy Drew Notebooks (1994 – 2005)

The Nancy Drew Notebooks introduced a young eight-year-old Nancy … the perfect book to acquaint the new reader with Nancy. How I would have loved these when I was eight years old! They are the “chapter” books that the young reader step up to as they advance in reading skills. These books, along with the Clues Crew are what I have been searching out for my seven-year-old granddaughter Ella. Funny though, when she sees me read the “big girl” books, she wants to read them too; she loves the artwork on them!

What fun would it have been to read about a girl, your own age, solving mysteries… maybe if I had read Nancy Drew Notebooks, I might have wanted to become a detective like my mother wanted to.

Even in the Notebook series, Nancy still hung with friends, Bess and George, but wouldn’t you enjoy having your friends along to help solve mysteries?

If you’re curious like me, I wondered about the name “notebook” they used and learned that Nancy carried a blue notebook around to write her clues in… sounds logical… doesn’t every good detective carry a notebook. And like many books geared toward children, the stories always end with a lesson learned.

Nancy Drew Girl Detective series  (2004 – 2012)

The Nancy Drew Girl Detective series of 47 books began soon after the Nancy Drew Paperbacks ended. Nancy was now driving a hybrid electric car, blue of course… and finally using a cell phone! It’s about time Nancy caught up with the times, how can anyone solve crimes without a “smartphone.”

They have somewhat now changed our lovable Nancy back to her original flippy ways in the 1930 books, she’s back to being a little more impulsive and gutsy. Maybe the writers listened to what the readers said, and changed the character back to what she once was. The series also takes on a different writing style… now written in the first person, rather than in the third person, as in previous books; boyfriend, Ned Nickerson is also back, and again in Nancy’s life… as he’s been on and off through most of the books. And what Nancy Drew book would be complete without Bess and George along to help solve mysteries with Nancy!

After the Detective series ended in 2012…. they later were revised in 2013 as The Nancy Drew Diaries! Nancy seems to be like the Energizer Bunny, she keeps going, and going and going!

DSC_0585 FIX

Nancy Drew and the Clues Crew (2006 – 2015)

The Clue Crews came on board in 2006, a new type of series to replace the current Nancy Drew Notebooks, which had been geared for the younger readers. It features our loved Nancy Drew now as an eight-year-old, but still with cousins George and Bess solving kid-sized mysteries; they are in the third grade at River Heights Elementary School. So this is how Nancy got her start as an amateur detective… from solving the case of the stolen ice cream formula to who stole Violet’s Make-a-Pet Hoppity! But never worry… Nancy and the Clue Crew always come to the rescue!

I’m always searching for Clues Crew Book series for my granddaughters… to hopefully “hook” them on Nancy as they begin to read! It’s awesome for them to be able to read about a young Nancy in the Notebook and Clues Crews series as an eight-year-old Nancy… and literally grow up with Nancy! At present I have my second-grade granddaughter, Ella, reading the Clue Crews chapter books, and soon will be working on my kindergartener, McKinley, as she learns to read. She’s already asked me to “teach her how to read.” That’s a good sign! Two down…. three more to go with the twins, Ana and Nina, age 4 and Grace following close at age 3. Ella reads every night to her siblings and parents… that’s a good sign of becoming a reader.

Even though the Clues Crew Nancy series has ended their printings, they are still being republished for all the new “Nancy” fans. How could they not be, with all the Nancy Drew collectors pushing their daughters and granddaughters to read Nancy Drew!

Nancy Drew Diaries (2013 – Current)

The Nancy Drew Diaries is what any girl between the ages of 8 and 12 can relate to after advancing from the Notebook and Clue Crew series books. Hopefully, by this time, the young eight-year-old is hooked, and continues to read the Nancy books that we all love and grew up on! I keep my granddaughters supplied with them!

The Diary books appear on the shelves with a more modern look and twist on Nancy’s life, and it’s the first of her series to offer us, the reader, with three choices in formats. I love that they’ve given us choices… a paperback, a hardcover with a dust jacket, and now an e-book… Nancy has finally arrived in the internet world! Even though there are choices with the Diaries, I’m still partial to my yellow-spined matte books of the 60’s. It’s hard to teach an old dog, new tricks…. yikes, did I just call myself old… scratch that!

In The Nancy Drew Diaries, Nancy and her friends are back to following their intuition… back to more of Nancy’s original ways. She’s packed away the technology she relied on in the Girl Detective series and back to using her noggin!

The Nancy Drew Clue Book (2015 – )

This book series, still written about an eight-year-old Nancy was a relaunch of the original Nancy Drew Clues Crew Book series that began in 2006 and ended in 2015. The storylines continue to follow the Clues Crew around the neighborhood and River Heights Elementry school in solving mysteries. I’m not sure how many mysteries an eight-year-old can solve, but Nancy and her crew seem to never run out of them! I’m told they are published in hardcover and paperback, but I’ve only found the paperbacks. At this time, there are only 7 titles in this line, with the last one published in March of 2017. I suppose I’ll have to actually check out a “real” bookstore and see what’s on their shelves!

While I have none of my original Nancy’s to pass down to my children or granddaughters… well I certainly do now! I just hope they don’t look at all my books and roll their eyes… I hope they look at them and secretly say to themselves… these are all mine! Let the fight begin!

Yes, I’ve probably missed a book or two, but now I have something to search for…. and there are even pdf’s of the books online if you like to read on the computer… and not search out the books. But for me, it’s the love of searching! And if you haven’t learned enough and wondering why I haven’t mentioned the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boy series books…. well my mind was just spinning too much to continue on! So become a sleuth and find those books!!!

nancy drew Braile nancydrewsleuth site

One of my last discoveries of the Nancy Drew books is finding them printed in Braille. Photo courtesy of nancydrewsleuth.com (The unofficial Nancy Drew Sleuth Unofficial Website)



Birthday card I made my little Nancy Drew granddaughter this year (2018). Ella was so excited about seeing Nancy on the card, that she didn’t even notice the money inside!

In the original text (OT) book of The Password to Larkspur Lane, Carson Drew says that her (Nancy) “birthday” is coming up… when they switch cars in eluding the criminals who were tailing them.

In as much as I have researched, read… and read even more… if you spot an error, please “let me know”. I’ll be happy to make a correction… as I strive to accurately portray!

magnificator ThanksForReading

Want to read more, click below…. 

2018: A to Z – All About Nancy Drew 

© 2018, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

About Jeanne Bryan Insalaco

My blog is at: https://everyonehasafamilystorytotell.wordpress.com/
This entry was posted in 2018: A to Z - All About Nancy Drew, Daily Writings and funnies... and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to 2018 A to Z: B… All About Nancy Drew

  1. Wendy says:

    Yellow spine for me. I probably never had more than 10 or 12 of the books.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Alexandra says:

    You’re quite the authority on this!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow! Nancy Drew series was my all time favorite as a kid. I used to have yellow spines! I still remember those.
    C at Kohl Eyed Me
    C at Something’s Cooking

    Liked by 1 person

    • More of us remember those yellow spines and if you keep your eyes open when watching TV and ears… you’ll see many appear in bookcases. I’ve posted some I’ve found on letter M… stay tuned! Thanks for stopping by.


  4. Nancy Hill says:

    A friend of my mother gave me a set of the original series, sans dust jackets that had been lost in the decades since publication, and I loved that Roadster, and the longer books. I read the yellow editions when I ran out of blue, and I loved them too, but not as much as the originals!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Roger says:

    I’ve never seen the Applewood books! And I have to agree with you that the yellow books are probably the best, although I have a huge spot in my heart for the originals. If I’d known what I was holding, I probably wouldn’t have read them in the bathtub as a child. 🙂
    Melanie’s Stories

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh No…. in the bathtub. That used to be my favorite place to read until I hurt my knee! But now I have more time, as I’d get lost in there. Too bad they got wet:(. Love the older art covers! Thanks for stopping by… I’ll be back with letter C tomorrow!


  6. Erika says:

    I enjoyed reading Nancy Drew when I was a kid, but did not realize they were written *that* long ago, wow!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. James Keeline says:

    Although you will cover the topic later (under “R”), I would add that it was the publisher that really pushed for the revisions of the books. They had done so with the first three Bobbsey Twins a decade or so earlier. A portion of the reason was the content. A greater issue concerned the copyrights (of the Bobbsey Twins) and the newer printing technologies being employed in the late 1950s — shifting from electrotype printing plates to offset printing. The cost to put the old stories in the new format would be the same as getting brand new stories with the old titles to use for the early volumes. Copyrights were only good for 56 years (if renewed) back then and Nancy and the Hardys were evergreen series that they wanted to sell for many decades.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for that info – I can add that abt the publisher on R. You are a wealth of info! Thanks for reading!

      Liked by 1 person

    • James, I’d be happy to add a written segmant on the (R) revisions written by you if you’d be interested to offer one to me in email. I don’t consider myself, by any means, an authority. I’m just a fan who’s fallen in love with Nancy Drew again and have enjoyed writing what I’ve learned and my thoughts along the way. I enjoy learning and strive to offer my writings in a postive way and accurate as I’ve learned and understand. I value your comments and hope to hear you speak one day on the many books written by the Stratemeyer Syndicate. I value your writings to me on my blog as well as in our groups. Jinsalaco(at)sbcglobal.net


  8. Elizabeth says:

    I had the yellow spine editions, never realized there were so many!

    Liked by 1 person

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