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The Mysterious Case of the Misinformed/Missing Facts Bibliography

To contact me, click here. UPDATED: August 13, 2011

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If you're interested in Nancy Drew and need an expert, consider me your gumshoe gal Friday! I write, research, consult, and speak about Nancy Drew--it's a delightfully mysterious hobby to say the least...

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My website has been used for numerous research projects, articles, and product development. However, it only touches the surface of Nancy Drew and her mysterious history. If you're interested in getting the full scoop, I'm happy to clue you in. At the very least, consider fact-checking your work with me. Surely you don't want to see your work in this Mysterious Case of the Misinformed/Missing Facts Bibliography section! This website section is a work in progress and will include articles, interviews, and books that have inaccurate facts and sources in them related to Nancy Drew. This is my attempt to correct all the misinformation that exists out there in media and print sources.


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Mysterious Case of the Misinformed/Missing Facts Bibliography:

The list below of sources with errors, is sorted alphabetically by writer’s names below. Newspaper/Online Website articles listed first, then magazines, then books. At the end of each section are articles under a Question Mark heading, where an author's name wasn't available but the other relevant information is listed.

We could use Nancy Drew to crack a few of these clueless blunders! Some of these article errors could have been avoided by fact checking—and some articles I was interviewed for but no fact checking. Those that fact checked ended up with flawless articles. I cannot completely fault journalists who are not familiar with the source material or rely on poor sources or misinformed individuals, however, fact checking is always a good idea just in case!

There is a group of researchers, myself included, who got a bit tired of seeing misinformation out there, repeated time and again. This is my attempt to correct the misinformation. If you’re using a source in writing your articles, books, or other projects you’re working on, see if it’s listed here. Avoid the pratfalls of those who have come before you. If you’re not sure about your work, fact check with me. If I do not know the answer, I will point you to a source that will.

Also, check out the FYI on Nancy Drew, for a basic rundown of Nancy Drew facts. This is a quick list of facts about the character and her history that often get messed up, and you’ll see these things misstated over and over again in the articles and books cited below. Stick to this correct list as a source for your writing, and hopefully you’ll solve the mystery of the missing Nancy Drew facts every time...

Newspapers & Online News/Websites:

Sorted Alphabetically by Author Name

2007 Entries


Ali, Lorraine., “Nancy Drew is back…On the silver screen.”

Claims: Only around 200 mysteries since 1930.

Reality: Over 500.

Claims: Simon and Schuster bought the Syndicate in 1979 from Stratemeyer.

Reality: Stratemeyer died in 1930 and the Syndicate was not purchased until 1984 from the Stratemeyer Syndicate.

Claims: There have been a couple of made-for-TV movies.

Reality: Only 1.

Anderson, John. Newsday, “She’s a California girl sleuth now, ‘Nancy Drew’ moves to Hollywood in the first movie version since the ‘30s.”

Claims: Nancy Drew created in 1930.

Reality: 1929.

Azizian, Carol. The Flint Journal, “It’s no mystery.”

Claims: Mildred Wirt Benson didn’t reveal she was Carolyn Keene until the 1980 publisher trial.

Reality: Articles on her throughout the years mentioned this fact, and author bios.

Claims: Mildred Wirt Benson became an instant celebrity after the 1980 court case.

Reality: Her presence there wasn’t reported on. She didn’t become a huge celebrity until 1993 when the University of Iowa held a Nancy Drew conference and she was honored there.

Claims: Edward Stratemeyer died before the books were first published.

Reality: He died 2 weeks afterward.


Borrelli, Christopher. The Toledo Blade, “Seriously, where is Nancy Drew’s spirit?”

Claims: Been 78 years since last Nancy Drew movie.

Reality: 68.

Claims: 200 Nancy Drew books since 1930.

Reality: Over 500.

Claim: Nancy Drew shared time with the Hardy Boys in the 1970s TV show.

Reality: Not at first, she had her own shows for quite a few episodes first.

Branson, Susie. Silver Chips Online, “What did Hollywood do to Nancy Drew?”

Claims: Hollywood finally discovered Nancy Drew.

Reality: Hollywood discovered Nancy Drew in the 1930s, 1970s, 1995, and 2002 previously.

Claims: Nancy has had a short blond bob hairstyle in all her books.

Reality: Huh? Did this person ever read or look at a Nancy Drew book? Nancy was blonde in the beginning—her hair depicted as a bob, longer more shoulder-length by the 1940s, shorter in the 1950s, and then changed to Titian in 1957 due to a printing issue with the cover of The Haunted Showboat. Then it was Titian or later strawberry-blonde for the rest of the time until present day—seen long and short.

Claims: Nancy Drew was designed to be in a small town.

Reality: While Nancy Drew did solve mysteries in her small town River Heights and nearby towns, she often traveled to other states or other countries to solve mysteries.

Burr, Ty. Boston Globe, “Nancy Drew Movie Review: A case of getting by on wits.”

Claims: Movie in 2007 debuted 73 years after the first book was written in 1930.

Reality: 2007-1930=77 years. Oops.

Claims: Carolyn Keene is a pseudonym for at least 10 underpaid writers employed over the years by publisher Edward Stratemeyer.

Reality: Ghostwriters were paid rather well for what they did—and no one forced them to do it. They were paid amounts for a few weeks of work equivalent to several months of salaried work, so ghostwriting assignments were often sidelines for folks and they were rather lucrative. There were 8 ghostwriters for the Nancy Drew series from 1930-1979 including Stratemeyer’s own daughter, Harriet Stratemeyer Adams, are we seriously going to claim she underpaid herself? Furthermore, Stratemeyer died 2 weeks after the Nancy Drew series debuted, so he was not around to pay all these ghosts over the years.

Claims: Nancy Drew has never been cool.

Reality: Tell that to the millions of readers who have read and loved her over the years and wanted to be just like her. 77 years of popularity for someone not cool—I don’t think so!


Carlson, Keri. The Minnesota Daily, “Mademoiselle Sleuth comes apart at the seams.”

Claims: Nancy has been around for 78 years.

Reality: 77.

Charity, Tom. CNN Review, “ ‘Nancy Drew’ true by slight.”

Claims: Nancy Drew books been published for 78 years.

Reality: 77.

Claims: Nancy moves from Riverside Heights to LA.

Reality: It’s River Heights.

Claim: The deceased film star in the film is “Julia Draycock”

Reality: Dehlia Draycott.

Chyn, Stina. Film, review.

Claims: First Nancy Drew book published in 1929 and then cites my website right after that.

Reality: 1930—which is the date listed on my website!

Claims: A TV show in 1996.

Reality: 1995.

Crabtree, Sheigh. LA Times, “It’s a green light for stand-up girls’ roles.”

Claims: Nancy Drew has over 350 mysteries.

Reality: That’s being a bit modest! It’s over 500 and growing monthly with new titles still being published.

Critchell, Samantha. AP. “No Mystery about Nancy Drew’s Style, “The case of the closet clue: Keeping Nancy Drew’s clothes contemporary but timeless”

Claims: Simon & Schuster purchased Syndicate in 1979.

Reality: S&S purchased it in 1984.


Davis, Lisa. Fort Worth Star-Telegram, “The case of the girl detective.”

Claims: Mildred Wirt Benson’s being Carolyn Keene was a secret until the 1980 publisher trial.

Reality: Not a secret among her friends, family, and anyone who read local stories written about Mildred Wirt Benson that mentioned this—or author bios. Nor to collectors who had been tracking her down. Even her appearance at the 1980 trial wasn’t really reported on nationally.

Claim: Edward Stratemeyer died just days before the Nancy Drew series debuted.

Reality: He died 2 weeks afterwards.

Claims: The Syndicate was sold to Simon and Schuster in 1982.

Reality: 1984.

Drahos, Marta Hepler. Traverse City Record Eagle, “Growing up with Nancy Drew.”

Claims: Nancy Drew created in 1930.

Reality: 1929, though ideas had been percolating several years before that.


Easterling, Camden. Bozeman Daily Chronicle, “A sleuth for the ages: Local profs research Nancy Drew.”

Claims: Nancy Drew books were revised in the 1950s and 1960s.

Reality: They were revised in the 1970s too: 1959 through 1977 was the time period that the revisions were published.

Elliot, David. Union-Tribune, “Emma Roberts’ charm sleuths through in ‘Nancy Drew.’ ”

Claims: In movie, go to Beverly Hills.

Reality: Hollywood Hills.

Claims: Dehlia Draycott was a ‘50s star.

Reality: Actually, 80’s.

Claims: Jane was one of the “Mean Girls.”

Reality: Jane was Dehlia’s daughter, the girl Nancy helped. Hardly a “Mean Girl.”

Claims: Nancy bribed a clerk with a brownie.

Reality: A blondie.


Gillis, Casey. The, “Cluing in to Nancy Drew.”

Claims: Mildred Wirt Benson wrote the first 23 books in the series.

Reality: She wrote 23 of the first 30: 1-7, 11-25, and 30.

Leaves Out: Janet Louise Johnson as having played Nancy Drew in the 1970s TV show.

Gleicher, Shirley. The Herald, “Nancy Drew books staple of summer days.”

Claims: Book title, “The Mystery of the Haunted House”

Reality: No such Nancy Drew book title.

Claim: 5 Carolyn Keene’s

Reality: 8 for classic 1-56, and numerous ones since

Claim: Carolyn Keene lived in NYC

Reality: No, unless it’s a modern ghost

Goecker, Liesl. The Salt Lake Tribune, “Plucky character’s enduring popularity is no mystery”

Claims: Edward Stratemeyer created Nancy Drew in 1930

Reality: Planning a new series as early as 1926, worked out Nancy Drew series with publisher Grosset & Dunlap in 1929

Graham, Jennifer. Wall Street Journal, “Nancy Drew and the Fountain of Youth”

Claims: Edward Stratemeyer invented Nancy Drew in the 1930s.

Reality: 1929.


Harbaugh, Pam. Florida Today, “Nancy Drew: from books to the big screen.”

Claims: 11 Nancy Drew writers.

Reality: 8 for the classic series, many since.


Igoe, Jan. Sun News, “Hollywood’s reinvention of teen sleuth may turn new readers on to classic books.”

Claim: Ghostwriters were bound by contractual secrecy.

Reality: Nothing in the releases required them to maintain secrecy—they just could not claim right to the stories they wrote nor use the pen name.


Karbo, Karen. The Oregonian, “Get a Clue: From Nancy Drew to Scooby-Doo, teen sleuths capture our imagination.”

Claims: Been nearly 70 years since Nancy Drew debuted.

Reality: 77+ years.

Claims: Nancy Drew was titian haired in the beginning.

Reality: Blonde.

Claims: Suggests ghostwriters were exploited.

Reality: Not true, their fees were often the equivalent of several months' salary for less work, so well paid for the times.

King, Susan. LA Times “After 77 years, it’s no secret: Nancy Drew is still a heroine.”

Claims: Harriet Stratemeyer Adams edited the first Nancy Drew books.

Reality: Edward Stratemeyer did—the first 3. The fourth and fifth were edited by his assistant, Harriet Otis Smith. The Stratemeyer sisters stepped in after book five.

Claims: On TV, Pamela Sue Martin, Tracy Ryan, and Maggie Lawson have played Nancy Drew.

Reality: They forgot another: Janet Louise Johnson who replaced Pamela Sue Martin in the 1970s TV show.


Lammers, Tim. KNBC.COM, “Independence draws Roberts to ‘Nancy Drew.’ ”

Claims: Mildred Wirt Benson created Nancy Drew.

Reality: Edward Stratemeyer did.

Lumenick, Lou. New York Post, “Fancy Nancy on Screen: A Brief History.”

Claims: Emma Roberts is the 3rd actress to play Nancy Drew.

Reality: She’s the 6th. Bonita Granville, Pamela Sue Martin, Janet Louise Johnson, Tracy Ryan, Maggie Lawson in that order preceded Emma Roberts.


MacLeod, Meredith. Hamilton Spectator, “Nancy Drew—At 77, she’s still cool.”

Claims: Ned has never kissed Nancy.

Reality: Yes—very little in the classic series, but more kissing in the later books and Files series.

Meyer, Norma. Union-Tribune,, Copley News Service, “The secret of the new Nancy.”

Claims: Edward Stratemeyer created Nancy Drew in 1930.

Reality: 1929.


O’Rourke, Meghan. Washington Post, “A Sleuth out of Pluck.”

Claim: Nancy Drew invented in 1930.

Reality: 1929.


Parker, Melody. WFC Courier, “Nancy Drew rules.”

Claims: Mildred Wirt Benson signed a contract to keep her “lip zipped” about being Carolyn Keene.

Reality: The releases signed didn’t require secrecy. They just signed away rights to the stories written and use of the pen name.

Claim: Mildred Wirt Benson paid 125.00 for each Nancy Drew manuscript.

Reality: Price started out at 125.00, decreased some, and then increased. She was paid 500.00 for the last Nancy Drew book she wrote.

Claim: Stratemeyer thought Nancy was too flip.

Reality: Not sure—this is not documented.

Claim: The original Nancy Drew books had blue covers with Nancy’s silhouette.

Reality: From 1930 through 1931, the books did not have the silhouette on the covers.

Claim: In the 1950s, the books were yellow covers.

Reality: It was not until 1962 that the “yellow spine picture cover” format debuted.

Claim: Mildred Wirt Benson was first woman to receive a journalism degree

Reality: Her undergraduate degree was in English. She was the first woman to receive a Master’s in Journalism in 1927 from the University of Iowa (then State University of Iowa.)

Claim: Nancy became a licensed pilot in the book, The Clue of the Crumbling Wall.

Reality: Nancy was taking flying lessons in that book, she did not fully become a licensed pilot.

Claims: That in 1959, Harriet Stratemeyer Adams cut a line out of The Secret of the Old Clock in the revision to remove all ties to Iowa.

Reality: This is undocumented. The line was removed, but this was in the process of cutting down the book, and most of the descriptive elements of the text were removed—the same process for all of the first 34 books when they were revised.

Claims: Mildred Wirt Benson remained silent about writing the Nancy Drew books until the 1980 publisher trial.

Reality: As early as 1931, in a Cleveland newspaper column, she stated she wrote the books—mostly in local publications and some author bibliographies over the years.


Shelley, Stan. Hendersonville News, “Check out dust covers on Nancy Drew mystery books.”

Claims: Margaret A. Wirt Benson was the original Carolyn Keene.

Reality: Mildred A. Wirt Benson.

Claims: Stratemeyer died a month after the first Nancy Drew books were published.

Reality: Stratemeyer died 12 days after they were published.

Claim: Mildred Wirt Benson wrote next 15 books after #10.

Reality: Mildred Wirt Benson wrote 11-25 and 30, only 14 books. Total she wrote: 1-7, 11-25, and 30=23 books.

Claims: Classic series stopped in 1997 with book #124.

Reality: Author appears to be confusing classic series with the Files series of 124 volumes. The classic series went up to #175 and ended in 2003.

Claims: That Pamela Sue Martin posed for Playboy after the Nancy Drew TV series in the 1970s was canceled. And that this led to a lawsuit.

Reality: She posed for Playboy after she left the series—it continued on for a short time without her and with a new actress, Janet Louise Johnson. No lawsuit was filed.

Shulman, Polly. The New York Times. “Spunky Nancy Drew Faces Her Hardest Case: Hollywood.”

Claims: Nancy Drew drove a red mustang

Reality: It was a blue mustang. She did drive a maroon roadster briefly in the early 1930s. She didn’t start driving a Mustang until much later on.

Claims: She was 16, aged to 18, then back to 16.

Reality: She did start out as 16, became 18 in the 1950s and stayed that way until a few volumes before the series ended in 2003 when she was 17—a series continuity glitch. She is 16 in the new movie.

Smith, Ryan E. Toledo Blade, “Holy Toledo…The real Nancy Drew was an Ohio reporter.”

Claims: Mildred Wirt Benson write 23 of the first 25 books.

Reality: 23 of the first 30: 1-7, 11-25, and 30.

Claims: Mildred Wirt Benson required to keep silent about writing the Nancy Drew books.

Reality: Nothing in the releases required them to maintain secrecy—they just could not claim right to the stories they wrote nor use the pen name.


Taylor, Kate. Globe and Mail, “The mystery of the secret pseudonym.”

Claims: Edward Stratemeyer sold Grosset & Dunlap on the idea of the Nancy Drew series in 1930.

Reality: It was 1929.

Missing: In listing Mildred Wirt Benson’s Nancy Drew books she ghostwrote, she leaves out #30, The Clue of the Velvet Mask. Also leaves out that Harriet Stratemeyer Adams wrote book #31, The Ringmaster’s Secret.

Taylor, Kate. Globe and Mail, “Nancy Drew: Feminist or daddy’s girl?”

Claims: 118 titles in the paperback series once Simon and Schuster took over in 1979.

Reality: 119 titles. (57-175)

Thompson, Bob. National Post,, “Little Miss Independent.”

Claims: Nancy Drew books written from 1930 to 1979.

Reality: They’ve been in print for 77 years from 1930 to present day and counting.

Torrance, Kelly Jane. The Washington Times, “The Nancy Mystique.”

Claims: Nancy Drew created in 1930.

Reality: 1929.


Vincent, Mal. Hampton Roads, “Nancy Drew is a breath of fresh, good-girl air.”

Claims: 162 Nancy Drew books since 1930.

Reality: Over 500.

Claims: Originals had 25 chapters and 4 illustrations.

Reality: Yes, as to 25 chapters. But as to illustrations, depends on which format and book. Varied.

Claims: Later books just had 20 chapters, no illustrations.

Reality: They did have illustrations.

Claim: If you have an original, it’s valuable.

Reality: Not necessarily valuable, depends on edition, format, shape, and many other often baffling factors!

Claims: Harriet Stratemeyer Adams edited the first book, The Secret of the Old Clock.

Reality: Edward Stratemeyer edited it.


Weil, Barbara. Howick and Botany Times, Nancy Drew movie review.

Claims: Nancy Drew created 75 years ago.

Reality: 77 years.

Claims: Carolyn Keene/Mildred Wirt Benson created Nancy Drew.

Reality: Edward Stratemeyer created Nancy Drew—and Carolyn Keene!


Wilmington Star News, “Nancy on screen” by ?

Claims: Only 1 of the 1930s movies was based on a book—Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase.

Reality: It was 2. Nancy Drew…Detective was based upon the book, The Password to Larkspur Lane.

Claims: In the 2002 TV pilot movie, that George did sorority rush.

Reality: George refused.

Daily Bulletin, “Those old books might be worth a look” by ?

Claims: 1st 38 books were revised until 1982.

Reality: 1st 34 were revised from 1959 to 1977., “Nancy Drew, Reading between the lines”, Union-Tribune

Claims: TV show in 1996. (I’m listed as a source, but at my website, I have the correct dates.)

Reality: 1995.

Toledo Blade, “Toledo’s Millie Benson created the sleuth” by ?

Claims: Mildred Wirt Benson wrote 23 of the first 25 Nancy Drew books.

Reality: It was 23 of the first 30: 1-7, 11-25, and 30.

Claims: Mildred Wirt Benson required to keep silent about writing the Nancy Drew books.

Reality: Nothing in the releases required them to maintain secrecy—they just could not claim right to the stories they wrote nor use the pen name.


2007 Entries


Bender, Karen. Collectibles: Flea Market Finds. Fall 1995. “Looking Out For Nancy Drew.”

Claim: The Hardy Boys debuted in 1926.

Reality: 1927

Claim: After Stratemeyer’s success with the Hardy Boys series, he created a companion girls’ series—Nancy Drew.

Reality: In June of 1927, Stratemeyer was at work on a new girls’ series. Hardy Boys debuted mid-May of 1927. It is possible the initial sales prompted the need to create a new series, but sales reports from the Syndicate indicate that the Hardy Boys series was not a huge seller at first, Tom Swift and Ted Scott far outsold this series. So this is questionable.

Claim: Nancy Drew’s hair color changed in 1958 due to reproduction error.

Reality: 1957: Cover of The Haunted Showboat.

Claim: Stratemeyer found Nancy Drew to be “too liberated” in the first draft of The Secret of the Old Clock as submitted by ghostwriter Mildred A. Wirt.

Reality: This may be a myth, as the claim cannot be substantiated in any correspondence in the Stratemeyer Syndicate archives. In fact there are letters to the opposite where Stratemeyer praised Wirt’s work on the initial book.

Omission: Article leaves out last volume that Mildred A. Wirt wrote: #30, The Clue of the Velvet Mask.

Claim: Harriet Stratemeyer Adams revised and rewrote the texts in 1961.

Reality: The revision process was begun in the 1950s and revised books started coming out from 1959 through 1977.

Claim: Simon and Schuster purchased the Syndicate in 1979.

Reality: They began publishing Syndicate books in 1979 but did not purchase the Syndicate until 1984.


Platt, Carolyn V. Timeline, A publication of the Ohio Historical Society. Jan-Mar 2007. “The Girl Sleuth and the Stratemeyer Syndicate.”

Caption Error/Claim: pg. 43: States that Stratemeyer asked MWB to write the ND series in 1930.

Reality: He asked her in 1929.

Caption Error/Claim: pg. 43: Stratemeyer chagrined by the feisty Nancy Drew and surprised when publisher Grosset & Dunlap liked it. Also on pg. 47.

Reality: This may be a myth, as the claim cannot be substantiated in any correspondence in the Stratemeyer Syndicate archives. In fact there are letters to the opposite where Stratemeyer praised MWB’s work on the initial book.

Claim: pg. 44, Mildred Wirt Benson was prevented by contract from saying she was Carolyn Keene.

Reality: The releases that ghostwriters signed, did not prohibit a ghost from saying they had written the books. They prohibited a ghost from using the pen name on their own stories or claiming any right to the stories themselves. There was no inherent secrecy clause, and this has been misrepresented time and time again in media stories.

Claim: pg. 49, That Harriet Adams and her sister Edna created Bess & George.

Reality: It would appear that Stratemeyer’s assistant Harriet Otis Smith most likely created these characters. Stratemeyer’s last outline before his death was Lilac Inn. Following his death, Otis Smith wrote the outline for Shadow Ranch which introduced Bess and George. The sisters were not involved in writing this book.

Claim: Harriet Adams insisted upon the revisions process that revised the first 34 books.

Reality: Grosset & Dunlap forced her into complying with the revisions.

Claim: Revised editions began in 1961.

Reality: The first revised editions appeared in 1959.


White, Kelly. Girls Life, June 2007. “Cutie. Max Thieriot.”

Claim: “In the classic books, Ned uncovers clues through connections at the local newspaper, where his dad is editor.”

Reality: In the classic books (1-56), Ned’s dad doesn’t work at a newspaper office, his family is not from River Heights (They’re from Mapleton), and Ned doesn’t work in a newspaper office, he is a college student at Emerson University and often during summers sells insurance or is a camp counselor.


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