2018 A to Z: I… All About Nancy Drew

clock two versions

2018 A to Z: I… All About Nancy Drew

I 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 April A to Z Blog Hop!


I is for… Internet, Identity, Inscriptions, and Illustrations


As I’ve begun re-reading the vintage Nancy Drew books… my thoughts are, “if only Nancy had a smartphone with internet… just imagine how her mystery stories would have played out!” But we all know that they wouldn’t have been as much fun to read… they would have ended too soon!

In the book, The Clue in the Diary, Nancy needed the diary translated she’d found after the fire; the diary was written in Swedish. If she had Internet… she could have had the diary translated that very night… and you know she would have stayed up all night scanning the pages. Google translator would have been her friend! There’d be no waiting for Mr. Peterson’s bakery to open… in hopes, he even could or would translate for her, but then there would have been no story… right?

The Mystery of The Old Clock... Nancy wouldn’t have had to chase the crooks in her convertible without help, as she could have called the police after discovering the van parked in a garage. But instead, she goes after them by herself, crawls in the truck over all the piled-in stolen goods, finds the clock… and almost gets captured… for the second time by them; still, no way to contact the police, but if she had a smartphone… they would have been captured much sooner!

If Nancy had internet and on Facebook… she would have solved mysteries almost daily, as you know everyone on your “friend list” would have been eager to offer a clue. Nancy would have had her “very” own Facebook page, imagine her name, it would probably not have been just plain Nancy Drew, she might have picked “Girl Sleuth”, “Super Sleuth”, or “Gumshoe Nancy”!

All the many trips Nancy makes to the post office to send telegrams or first-call mail… well they could have instantly been sent by way of “email” or instant message on her smartphone. Boy, Nancy would love living in today’s world of everything being done “instantly”! Remember when Nancy penned a letter to the lawyers in England who were looking for Nancy Smith Drew? It was a big “to do” in hurrying to the post office to make the last pickup for airmail that day… then having to wait over a week for their reply.

Nancy would love an I-Phone!

Identity: “Who was the real Carolyn Keene?”

Imagine Nancy Drew on the hunt for the real/true identity of Carolyn Keene? Wouldn’t that be a hoot! Do you think she’d be successful in tracking her down! Will the real Carolyn Keene stand up! Sounds like a guest stint on “To Tell the Truth.” Now that my mind is wandering, all I can visualize is Mildred, Harriet, and Walter standing on stage saying, “I am the real Carolyn Keene.” I suppose they’d all throw a curveball at the end of the show as they all would have to stand!

It was Mildred W. Benson who held the first official title of Carolyn Keene at the young age of twenty-four… how exciting that must have been, but brutally frustrating. Imagine not being able to tell your parents and friends how extremely popular your writings are!

As a young reader, I don’t believe I ever thought one way or another that the name of Carolyn Keene was a pseudonym… and not real! I’m sure I would have gone on a hunt to discover who she was if I’d known, but in those days… with no internet… it would truly have been difficult and near impossible. The identity of Carolyn Keene was kept securely locked away in the vault… with everyone sworn to the utmost secrecy!

Sleuthing back in the day… would most definitely have led you down the rabbit hole… but Nancy Drew never seemed to have gone on any wild goose chases!

I never gave a second thought about really wrote Nancy Drew. I only knew it was Carolyn Keene… a name I loved to read on the cover. Possibly many girls were now named Carolyn instead of Nancy! My imagination only gave way to Carolyn sitting at her typewriter… and how I couldn’t wait for the next story!

The identity of Carolyn Keene was always hush-hush… closely guarded for many years as the writers were forced to sign a “confidentiality” clause in their Stratemeyer Syndicate agreement. Oh, how that must have been painfully sad! To know it was your writings that made Nancy Drew so popular! I would have been biting my nails… in wanting to scream to the world that “I write Nancy Drew.”


What are your feelings on opening a Nancy Drew and seeing a young girls name written inside? It usually begins with… “This book belongs to… and then you turn a page or two and find the list of Nancy Drew books with check marks next to certain books. It leaves you with the feeling of how this young girl loved her Nancy’s… and keeping track of what she had read… hoping to add more check marks!

I wonder how many books I checked off on that page as a young girl?

One of the first places I check in a new Nancy Drew book is the first couple of pages… where a girl usually wrote her name. Reading her name tells me that this book was once a part of someone’s collection, and loved! Then my next thought… why didn’t you keep your Nancy’s? I suppose someone might say the same if they find my books… and I’m still puzzled over not knowing why I didn’t keep mine! I suppose I outgrew them and somehow they were disposed of by my mother…. but she doesn’t remember either. I’m always wishing, hoping one day – somehow – someone might just discover one of my signed Nancy Drew books, and contact me. Check your books, everyone!!!

If I never find my books, I hope they are loved in someone’s bookcase!

Another interesting thing I take note of is what was else was included with their inscription… her address, phone no, zip code. Often the phone numbers have no area codes… which dates the book… and if they offer a zip code, it gives you another time period. Sometimes the library card will even list their school grade, especially if the book was from a school library. While I prefer to not have library editions in my collection, I do enjoy the library copies with the little library cards and pocket in the back of the book… they make great bookmarks. I find very few books with inscriptions as To…, Love Grandma!


Love the Library Cards… especially seeing the cards all filled with reader names!

Library cards remind me of all the library books I checked out as a girl… so excited to bring home new books to read; Nancy Drew books were the only books I ever bought, I have no memory of checking any out. Parents didn’t buy as many books as they do today… my grandchildren are very privileged to have huge bookcases of books. I spent my summers at the library, eager to fill out my Library Certificate… reading the biographies of all the presidents and inventors.

checked off books

The owner of this book (Brenda Brown) was quite the Nancy Drew reader –  and very diligent in checking off what she’d read! The day I bought this book, (belonging to Brenda) the box was filled with many books with her name inside.

There are many clues in the signatures found… sometimes it’s just the way the name is written… if she wrote her name as a very young girl, just learning to write her name, then often the name was written larger. In one of my books, I feel the girl was probably a young seven or eight in judging by the signature. When I watch my young granddaughters write their names, the letters are often big… writing small and in a small space doesn’t always work for them. I will have to tell my Ella, who is just beginning to read them to be sure and write her name in the books… and I’ll make sure she doesn’t give them away. One day she will enjoy looking back at them and how she wrote her name through the years. Her mother also read Nancy Drew when she grew up… and I bet she’s secretly sneaking a read here and there!

I have no memory of whether I was one of those girls who wrote her name or checked those boxes… I only hope I did… but as I don’t have my original books… I’ll never know! High on my list of wants is to “one day” discover one of my books in someone’s collection! Has that ever happened to you?

When I open a book and see their names… I wonder if they ever remember reading Nancy Drew and what happened to their books?

The closest I’ve come to owning a book, that I might assume was mine, is the one my daughter wrote in… She wrote, “This book belongs to Melissa” in The Secret of the Old Clock… the first and only book she read. I had bought her several at tag sales… hoping to encourage her to read Nancy, but she later told me it just didn’t catch her attention. I don’t remember her really being a reader, so I suspect that was part of the problem. How can anyone not fall in love with Nancy?

Signature FullFIX

My daughter only inscribed one book… the only book she read… The Secret of the Old Clock… and now it’s safe in my collection!

I have several inscribed books in my collection, many from the same girl… sadly though, many people will end up with bits and pieces of her collection as I only bought what I was missing. Strange… but I felt a little guilty breaking up her collection!


Artist, Russel H. Tandy, a friend of Stratemeyer, was the first artist to illustrate and bring Nancy Drew to the covers. Being a fashion artist, he easily brought her to life with a fashion sense of dressing. Quite a change she has gone through from the early flapper skirts and cloche hats slightly cocked to one side. Times certainly changed, as Nancy soon changed to more glamorous dresses with pearls and matching hats and handbags… and naturally, her curls were never out of place. In the 1940’s, Nancy once again changed her wardrobe to more simple tailored suits with a hairstyle of now swept up and away from her face.

The covers that Tandy designed for the Nancy Drew books always depicted a specific moment in time from the story… why?… because he insisted to always read the story before designing the cover.

I had a little fun coloring some of the illustrations I printed!

I always enjoyed the illustrations in the books, especially the book covers… isn’t that what always pulled you in to read! If you’re lucky enough to have first editions from the 1930’s, you’ll be treated to well known glossy illustrations!

Rudy Nappi was also used for many covers and some of the revised art covers. Both Bill Gillies and Nappi revised all the first 34 volumes over the years. Nappi’s first cover was The Clue of the Velvet Mask… he continued to illustrate through book 56. In the revisions, they often painted the same type scene, but added in current scenery, with newer style clothing and hairstyles on an updated Nancy. Also, first covers were painted by Bill Gillies, but he painted only a few volume covers. For more on the illustrators and covers, hop over to nancydrewsleuth  and series-books. They have gone much more in detail than I ever knew when I read Nancy Drew!

Who’s your favorite illustrator? 

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.

10 Responses to 2018 A to Z: I… All About Nancy Drew

  1. Anne Young says:

    I hope you find one of your own books one day with your own inscription in it. I am really enjoying your research into the Nancy Drew books



    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wendy says:

    Love the library cards. One of my favorite memories of elementary school was being selected as a library helper. I liked stamping the books and always tried very hard to line up the stamp just right in the box. I found the illustrations section of this post to be interesting. The artists must have given a lot of thought as to what scene would grab potential readers.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. scr4pl80 says:

    You make me want to start adding to my own collection!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Funny how when I wasn’t looking for Nancy Drew books, I’d see them, now that I’m looking for them, they are far and few in between. I’m sure you’d enjoy looking for them. Let me know what you find!


  5. kristin says:

    I used to color in illustrations, I didn’t copy them either, just colored them in the book. I used to label some books with names of people I knew. Not Nancy Drew books because I only had one and no idea where that one went.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I gave my Nancy Drew books, which my mother had kept, to my first granddaughter who was reading the series at the time. And yes, my name was in them and the ones I’d read checked off, although, I only had a few since I also used the library for most.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.