By the Light of the Study Lamp
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|Series||The Dana Girls|
|Genre||Children's literature/Young adult literature|
|Publisher||Grosset & Dunlap|
|Followed by||The Secret at Lone Tree Cottage|
By the Light of the Study Lamp is the first book in The Dana Girls detective series, originally produced by the Stratemeyer Syndicate. It was issued in 1934, as part of a three-volume release in order to test the market for the series.
Louise and Jean Dana, orphaned sisters, receive the gift of an antique study lamp as a parcel from their Uncle Ned Dana, skipper of the SS Balaska, as they are packing to return to their school for a second year. The lamp is stolen from their home only minutes after its arrival, and though the sisters give chase in the family roadster, their search reaches a dead-end at an antique store run by the sinister Jake Garbone. In the meantime, they encounter a young man whom they rescue from Oak Falls in the river, who appears to have amnesia.
Back at Starhurst school, the girls win the ire of rich girl Letitia Briggs, when they are awarded the nicest suite on the second floor. They go into nearby Penfield antique stores, hoping to find a replacement lamp for their new study. By chance they encounter another antique lamp, alike in every detail. The girls seize the opportunity and buy the lamp; unaware that in doing so they have further alienated Lettie Briggs. They have also attracted the attention of a mysterious gypsy woman whom they will soon meet again — in the company of none other than Jake Garbone. Garbone and the gypsy woman are intent on regaining possession of the lamp, and Jake especially will stop at nothing to get it back. In the meantime, a strange handyman is found lurking repeatedly. As the girls try to solve the mystery of the lamp, they unearth little-known secrets about the history of their school and their schoolmate, Evelyn Starr, while staying one step ahead of their pursuers, and find the key to the missing Starr family jewels and a missing Starr sibling.
Printings: The book was originally orchid colored with green endpapers, and art deco silhouettes, with a four-color jacket featuring vignettes on the cover in apple green, lilac, black, and white. Printings through late 1936 had a frontispiece and three internal illustrations on glossy paper. Only the frontispiece was retained from 1937 forward. The jacket was later printed in turquoise, red, black and white, with the same illustration, and finally, the binding of the book changed to blue with maroon endpapers, to match the jacket. After 1943, the illustration was printed on plain paper. The series ceased printing in 1945 for four years.
The 1949 edition of the book featured a new cover in the full-color wrap style used on Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys, and other Grosset and Dunlap series. The first four volumes of the Danas were reintroduced with new jacket art and frontispieces, but no spine symbols or numbering. The books were green with Jean and Louise illustrated on a haunted path at night on green endpages. The series drew interest again so subsequent volumes were updated and released, with spine symbols, until the publication of a new volume (already written and set for printing in 1945) in 1952; new volumes were released once a year.
In 1962, the Dana Girls switched to cream or beige spined picture covers, and went out of print in late 1968. By the Light of the Study Lamp was allowed to go out of print at that time.