Appreciating all that makes America special

Kid Stuff: The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew

Frank and Joe Hardy were Nancy Drew were more assertive, more independent, and more interesting in their earlier books. Uploaded to Flickr by dougww.

The front covers will tell you the Hardy Boys books are written by Franklin W. Dixon and Nancy Drew is written by Carolyn Keene. No and no. Both book series were the brainchild of Edward Stratemeyer, owner of a syndicate that sold the idea for the Hardy Boys (1926) and later Nancy Drew (1930) to the publishing firm Grosset & Dunlap. All the books in both series are ghostwritten.

Not only have the Boys gone through lots of changes over the decades (Frank has gone from 16 to 18, Joe from 15 to 17), so did the books. As the ghostwriters and the times changed, so did the style. It probably won’t surprise you to know that the earlier books were more complex and atmospheric, and generally darker in tone. As the times changed, there were fewer guns, stranger stories, and less racial stereotypes.

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Nancy Drew came into being because Stratemeyer and G&D wanted a female character to appeal to girls. She too has changed over time, becoming less outspoken and more conventional. Sort of backwards, don’t you think? Of course, the current Nancy has a cell phone and drives a hybrid electric car. Tres current!

I can remember how much I enjoyed reading the Hardys as I was growing up. I thought they were the coolest guys. They’ve now appeared in 190 volumes of the original series and 127 Casefiles books. Nancy Drew appeared in 175 original volumes and 124 Nancy Drew Files. If you have youngsters, that’s a lot of enjoyable reading just waiting for them to discover.


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