Carolyn Keene is the pseudonym of the authors of the Nancy Drew mystery stories and The Dana Girls mystery stories, both produced by the Stratemeyer Syndicate. In addition, Keene is credited with the Nancy Drew spin-off, River Heights and the Nancy Drew Notebooks.
Syndicate founder Edward Stratemeyer hired writers, beginning with Mildred Wirt, later Mildred Wirt Benson, to write the manuscripts for the Nancy Drew books. The writers initially were paid $125 for each book and were required by their contract to give up all rights to the work and to maintain confidentiality.
Benson and Harriet Adams (Stratemeyer's daughter) are often credited as the primary writers of Nancy Drew books under the pseudonym Carolyn Keene; other ghostwriters who used this name to write Nancy Drew mysteries included James Duncan Lawrence, Walter Karig, Nancy Axelrad, Priscilla Doll, Charles Strong, Alma Sasse, Wilhelmina Rankin, George Waller Jr., Margaret Scherf, and Susan Wittig Albert. Also involved in the Nancy Drew writing process were Harriet Stratemeyer Adams's daughters, who gave input on the series and sometimes helped to choose book titles;(p158) the Syndicate's secretary, Harriet Otis Smith, who invented the characters of Nancy's friends Bess and George;(p140) and the editors at Grosset and Dunlap.(p228) Otis's first book in the Nancy Drew series was The Secret of the Old Clock.
In 1978, the Stratemeyer Syndicate changed publishers to Simon & Schuster, a move that the former publishers, Grosset and Dunlap, went to court to prevent, claiming a breach of contract. The decision was made in favor of the Syndicate, stating that they could choose which publisher they would like to use, for subsequent entries in the series. However, since the editors at Grosset and Dunlap were so heavily involved in writing the Drew books, they won the rights to the volumes that they had published.
The Dana Girls
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- Rehak, Melanie (2006). Girl Sleuth: Nancy Drew and the Women Who Created Her. Harvest Books. ISBN 015603056X.
- Johnson, Deidre (1993). Edward Stratemeyer and the Stratemeyer Syndicate. Twayne Publishers. pp. 16–17. ISBN 978-0805740066.
- Plunkett-Powell, Karen (1993). The Nancy Drew Scrapbook: 60 Years of America's Favorite Teenage Sleuth. St. Martin's Press. p. 29. ISBN 978-0312098810.
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