Nancy Drew Mystery Stories

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Nancy Drew Mystery Stories is the long-running "main" series of the Nancy Drew franchise, which was published under the pseudonym Carolyn Keene. There are 175 novels — plus 34 revised stories — that were published between 1930 and 2003 under the banner; Grosset & Dunlap published the first 56, and 34 revised stories, while Simon & Schuster published the series beginning with volume 57.

A spinoff, the Nancy Drew Files, ran concurrently from 1986 to 1997. In 2003, Simon & Schuster announced that Nancy Drew Mystery Stories would end and be replaced by a new, more contemporary series titled Nancy Drew: Girl Detective. Launched in 2004, the series was panned in comparisons to its predecessor,[citation needed] and ended in 2012. [1]The Nancy Drew Diaries was launched in its place in 2013, and has received mixed reviews.[citation needed]

Publishing history[edit]

Mildred Wirt Benson is credited with writing 23 of the first 30 novels in the series. Other authors contributed as well, but in 1959, Edward Stratemeyer's daughter, Harriet Adams, began rewriting the earlier books in the series, sometimes substituting entirely new plots while retaining the same title.

In the Harriet Adams revisions, Nancy is depicted as a less impulsive, less headstrong girl of Stratemeyer and Mildred's vision, to a milder, more sedate and refined girl— "more sugar and less spice", with an extensive wardrobe and a more charitable outlook.[2] Helen Corning[who?] appears older, perhaps in preparation for her "write-out" after volume 4 of the revised series (no explanation was made in the original series) and to introduce Bess and her cousin George. Perceived racial stereotypes — and, arguably, characters of color period — were omitted. Action increased significantly and became faster-paced. Greater developmental detail was given to Nancy and her home.

Nancy Drew books on shelf at a public library

In 1979, after a court battle between the Stratemeyer Syndicate and Grosset & Dunlap, the original publishers (in hardback) of the first 56 Nancy Drew titles, publication rights to new stories were granted to Simon & Schuster. Titles from #57, The Triple Hoax (1979), were thereafter published primarily in paperback.[3]

Books #57–78 were initially printed under Simon & Schuster's children's imprint Wanderer as digest sized paperbacks (although some were also later published in the regular mass market paperback format, which was also the format of choice for some foreign editions, such as the British releases by Armada). Limited numbers of hardback editions are also known to have been produced, mostly for libraries.[4]

Beginning in 1979, the titles were presented in set cover format referred to as the "Arch" design, with sixteen covers drawn by Ruth Sanderson. Twenty-two titles were also reprinted under the Wanderer imprint in a new "checkerboard" design before the series moved, from #79 on, to the new Minstrel imprint, whereupon they received still newer covers in the "checkerboard" design. The series ultimately moved again to Simon & Schuster's Aladdin Paperbacks imprint beginning with #164, undergoing two further cover revamps, "White" and "Paint".

Grosset & Dunlap titles (1930–1979)[edit]

The Nancy Drew Mystery Stories were first published in the United States in 1930 by Grosset & Dunlap in a series of hardbacks. Revision of all titles through #34 began in 1959.

Titles, authorship, and publication dates
No. Title Pub. Outline Manuscript Editor Rev. Revised by
1 The Secret of the Old Clock 1930 Edward Stratemeyer Mildred Wirt Edward Stratemeyer 1959 Harriet Stratemeyer Adams
2 The Hidden Staircase 1930 1959
3 The Bungalow Mystery 1930 1960 Patricia Doll
4 The Mystery at Lilac Inn 1930 Harriet Otis Smith 1961
5 The Secret at Shadow Ranch[a] 1931 Harriet Otis Smith 1965 Grace Grote
6 The Secret of Red Gate Farm 1931 Edna Stratemeyer Squier Edna Stratemeyer Squier and
Harriet Stratemeyer Adams
1961 Lynn Ealer
7 The Clue in the Diary 1932 1962 Harriet Stratemeyer Adams
8 Nancy's Mysterious Letter 1932 Walter Karig 1968
9 The Sign of the Twisted Candles 1933 Harriet Stratemeyer Adams 1968 Patricia Doll
10 The Password to Larkspur Lane 1933 1966
11 The Clue of the Broken Locket 1934 Edna Stratemeyer Squier Mildred Wirt 1965 Harriet Stratemeyer Adams
and Grace Grote
12 The Message in the Hollow Oak 1935 1972 Grace Grote
13 The Mystery of the Ivory Charm 1936 1974 Priscilla Baker-Carr
14 The Whispering Statue 1937 1970 Harriet Stratemeyer Adams
15 The Haunted Bridge 1937 Harriet Stratemeyer Adams 1972 Priscilla Baker-Carr
16 The Clue of the Tapping Heels 1939 Edna Stratemeyer Squier 1969 Harriet Stratemeyer Adams
17 The Mystery of the Brass-Bound Trunk 1940 Harriet Stratemeyer Adams 1976
18 The Mystery at the Moss-Covered Mansion[b] 1941 Edna Stratemeyer Squier 1971
19 The Quest of the Missing Map 1942 Harriet Stratemeyer Adams Harriet Stratemeyer Adams 1969 Priscilla Baker-Carr
20 The Clue in the Jewel Box 1943 1972
21 The Secret in the Old Attic 1944 1970
22 The Clue in the Crumbling Wall 1945 1973
23 The Mystery of the Tolling Bell 1946 1973
24 The Clue in the Old Album 1947 1977
25 The Ghost of Blackwood Hall 1948 1967
26 The Clue of the Leaning Chimney 1949 George Waller, Jr. and
Harriet Stratemeyer Adams
27 The Secret of the Wooden Lady 1950 Margaret Scherf 1967
28 The Clue of the Black Keys 1951 Wilhelmina Rankin and
Harriet Stratemeyer Adams
29 The Mystery at the Ski Jump 1952 Alma Sasse 1968 Ann Shultes
30 The Clue of the Velvet Mask 1953 Andrew Svenson Mildred Wirt 1969 Priscilla Baker-Carr
31 The Ringmaster's Secret 1953 Harriet Stratemeyer Adams Harriet Stratemeyer Adams 1974 June Dunn
32 The Scarlet Slipper Mystery 1954 Charles Strong 1974 Ann Shultes
33 The Witch Tree Symbol 1955 Harriet Stratemeyer Adams 1975
34 The Hidden Window Mystery 1956 Patricia Doll and
Harriet Stratemeyer Adams
1975 Mary Fisher
35 The Haunted Showboat 1957 Harriet Stratemeyer Adams June Dunn and
J. Sanderson
36 The Secret of the Golden Pavilion 1959
37 The Clue in the Old Stagecoach 1960 Harriet Stratemeyer Adams
38 The Mystery of the Fire Dragon 1961
39 The Clue of the Dancing Puppet 1962
40 The Moonstone Castle Mystery 1963
41 The Clue of the Whistling Bagpipes 1964
42 The Phantom of Pine Hill 1965
43 The Mystery of the 99 Steps 1966
44 The Clue in the Crossword Cipher 1967
45 The Spider Sapphire Mystery 1968
46 The Invisible Intruder 1969
47 The Mysterious Mannequin 1970
48 The Crooked Banister 1971
49 The Secret of Mirror Bay 1972
50 The Double Jinx Mystery 1973
51 Mystery of the Glowing Eye 1974
52 The Secret of the Forgotten City 1975
53 The Sky Phantom 1976
54 The Strange Message in the Parchment 1977
55 Mystery of Crocodile Island 1978
56 The Thirteenth Pearl 1979

Simon & Schuster titles[edit]

In 1979, the Nancy Drew books began to be published by Wanderer Books Simon & Schuster in paperback format. Though formatted differently from the original 56-volume series which continued under Grosset & Dunlap's control, these new books were published under the Nancy Drew Mystery Stories banner. These books feature increasingly contemporary cover illustrations and some books have multiple versions of the cover art.

These books are sometimes referred to as "Digests", since Simon & Schuster published them as digest-size paperbacks, as opposed to Grosset & Dunlap's hardcover books. (One of the reasons why Adams switched to Simon & Schuster was that Grosset & Dunlap was opposed to such a change, while Simon & Schuster agreed to it.)[citation needed]

In 2005, the first eight volumes from the Wanderer section (#57-64) were republished by Grosset & Dunlap, as a special promotion for the celebration of Nancy Drew's 75th anniversary. These republications went out of print in 2013.

Wanderer Books (1979–1985)[edit]

The Triple Hoax was originally listed as the next book at the end of The Thirteenth Pearl. Grosset & Dunlap continued to list this until they lost a court case against the Syndicate and Simon & Schuster in May 1980. The book was later revised to eliminate The Triple Hoax. However, they later published this book — and the seven after that — in 2005, with the permission and collaboration of Simon & Schuster, in celebration of Nancy Drew's 75th anniversary.

The main plot, formula, and continuity of the books remained similar to the original Grosset & Dunlap books still being published at the time. Harriet Adams was still involved in the Syndicate, even after she stopped writing the books in 1980. Simon & Schuster rejected her original manuscript for The Secret in the Old Lace, with the story being rewritten by Nancy Axelrad. After she died in 1982, the Syndicate continued with five of its partners (Adams' remaining three children, plus authors Axelrad and Lilo Wuenn), until its sale to Simon & Schuster in 1987.

During this period, the Syndicate began to hire new, younger writers, including Sharon Wagner, Richard Ballad, and James Duncan Lawrence. Ballad's two books, Captive Witness and The Sinister Omen, as well as The Emerald-Eyed Cat Mystery, were originally written for The Hardy Boys, but were rewritten for unknown reasons.

The final two books (#77 and #78) were "backdoor pilots" for the spin-off The Nancy Drew Files, which began in 1986. Due to this, and the sale of the Stratemeyer Syndicate, the series went on a two-year hiatus to retool the series.

Titles, authorship, and publication dates (1979–1985)
No. Title Pub. Outline Manuscript Editor
57 The Triple Hoax 1979 Harriet Stratemeyer Adams Harriet Stratemeyer Adams
and Lilo Wuenn
58 The Flying Saucer Mystery 1980 Harriet Stratemeyer Adams Lilo Wuenn
59 The Secret in the Old Lace 1980 Harriet Stratemeyer Adams Nancy Axelrad
60 The Greek Symbol Mystery 1981 Harriet Stratemeyer Adams
and Nancy Axelrad
Nancy Axelrad
61 The Swami's Ring 1981
62 The Kachina Doll Mystery 1981 Sharon Wagner Nancy Axelrad
63 The Twin Dilemma 1981 Nancy Axelrad Lilo Wuenn
64 Captive Witness 1981 Richard Ballad Nancy Axelrad
65 Mystery of the Winged Lion 1982 Nancy Axelrad
66 Race Against Time 1982 James Duncan Lawrence
67 The Sinister Omen 1982 Richard Ballad
68 The Elusive Heiress 1982 Sharon Wagner
69 Clue in the Ancient Disguise 1982 James Duncan Lawrence
70 The Broken Anchor 1983 Sharon Wagner
71 The Silver Cobweb 1983 James Duncan Lawrence
72 The Haunted Carousel 1983 James Duncan Lawrence
73 Enemy Match 1984 Un­known
74 The Mysterious Image 1984 James Duncan Lawrence
75 The Emerald-Eyed Cat Mystery 1984 Un­known
76 The Eskimo's Secret 1985 Sharon Wagner
77 The Bluebeard Room 1985 James Duncan Lawrence
78 The Phantom of Venice 1985 James Duncan Lawrence

Minstrel Books (1987–2001)[edit]

After volume 78, the series took a 2+12-year hiatus due to the sale of the Stratemeyer Syndicate to Simon & Schuster, and to begin The Nancy Drew Files spin-off. At this point, book packager Mega-Books took over the series, and hired different ghostwriters for the job (many of whom are still unknown). The ghostwriters who are known are ones who have either been discovered through other resources or have publicly revealed themselves as a ghostwriter for the series.

The series also gained Anne Greenberg as the new editor; Greenberg would oversee the series for the next 16 years, and become one of the most influential Nancy Drew editors that helped the books continue until the 21st century.

Due to the cancellation of The Nancy Drew Files in 1997, Simon & Schuster rewrote several unpublished manuscripts into books for the original series. These include The Wild Cat Crime (#141), The E-mail Mystery (#144), and The Case of the Captured Queen (#148).

The writing style of these books took a different direction than the books of the Syndicate; modern technology is mentioned (making the books seem somewhat dated very quickly), continuity errors are common, and the books become shorter (reducing the books from a 20-chapter/180-page format to a 16-chapter/150-page format). Characters Burt Eddleton and Dave Evans are eliminated entirely ( because of this, some fans were disappointed) and Nancy mostly has a habit of rotating between George, Bess, and Ned. This setup creates a more realistic layout, rather than having all six drop everything to join Nancy. In the late 1990s, continuity errors and text errors became more common.

Titles, authorship, and publication dates (1987–2001)
No. Title Pub. Outline Manuscript
79 The Double Horror of Fenley Place 1987 Un­known
80 The Case of the Disappearing Diamonds 1987
81 The Mardi Gras Mystery 1988
82 The Clue in the Camera 1988
83 The Case of the Vanishing Veil 1988
84 The Joker's Revenge 1988 Carin Greenberg Baker Eileen Hehl
85 The Secret of Shady Glen 1988 Un­known
86 The Mystery of Misty Canyon 1988
87 The Case of the Rising Stars 1989 unknown Carin Greenberg Baker
88 The Search for Cindy Austin 1988 Nancy Bush
89 The Case of the Disappearing Deejay 1989 Carol Gorman
90 The Puzzle at Pineview School 1989 Un­known
91 The Girl Who Couldn't Remember 1989
92 The Ghost of Craven Cove 1989
93 The Case of the Safecracker's Secret 1990 Carin Greenberg Baker
94 The Picture-Perfect Mystery 1990 Carol Gorman
95 The Silent Suspect 1990 Un­known
96 The Case of the Photo Finish 1990
97 The Mystery at Magnolia Mansion 1990 Alison Hart
98 The Haunting of Horse Island 1990 Carol Gorman
99 The Secret at Seven Rocks 1991 Ellen Steiber
100 A Secret in Time 1991 Carin Greenberg Baker
101 The Mystery of the Missing Millionairess 1991 Un­known
102 The Secret in the Dark 1991
103 The Stranger in the Shadows 1991 Alison Hart
104 The Mystery of the Jade Tiger 1991 Ellen Steiber
105 The Clue in the Antique Trunk 1992 Un­known
106 The Case of the Artful Crime 1992
107 The Legend of Miner's Creek 1992
108 The Secret of the Tibetan Treasure 1992
109 The Mystery of the Masked Rider 1992 Alison Hart
110 The Nutcracker Ballet Mystery 1992 Un­known
111 The Secret at Solaire 1993
112 Crime in the Queen's Court 1993
113 The Secret Lost at Sea 1993
114 The Search for the Silver Persian 1993
115 The Suspect in the Smoke 1993
116 The Case of the Twin Teddy Bears 1993 Alison Hart
117 Mystery on the Menu 1994 Un­known
118 Trouble at Lake Tahoe 1994
119 The Mystery of the Missing Mascot 1994
120 The Case of the Floating Crime 1994
121 The Fortune Teller's Secret 1994
122 The Message in the Haunted Mansion 1994
123 The Clue on the Silver Screen 1995
124 The Secret of the Scarlet Hand 1995
125 The Teen Model Mystery 1995
126 The Riddle in the Rare Book 1995
127 The Case of the Dangerous Solution 1995
128 The Treasure in the Royal Tower 1995
129 The Baby-Sitter Burglaries 1996 Pamela Willis
130 The Sign of the Falcon 1996 Un­known
131 The Hidden Inheritance 1996
132 The Fox Hunt Mystery 1996
133 The Mystery at the Crystal Palace 1996
134 The Secret of the Forgotten Cave 1996
135 The Riddle of the Ruby Gazelle 1997
136 The Wedding Day Mystery 1997
137 In Search of the Black Rose 1997
138 The Legend of the Lost Gold 1997
139 The Secret of Candlelight Inn 1997
140 The Door-to-Door Deception 1997
141 The Wild Cat Crime 1998
142 The Case of Capital Intrigue 1998 Elizabeth Nugent
143 Mystery on Maui 1998
144 The E-mail Mystery 1998 Denise Hidalgo
145 The Missing Horse Mystery 1998 Alison Hart
146 The Ghost of the Lantern Lady 1998 Un­known
147 The Case of the Captured Queen 1999
148 On the Trail of Trouble 1999
149 The Clue of the Gold Doubloons 1999 Alison Hart
150 Mystery at Moorsea Manor 1999 Un­known
151 The Chocolate-Covered Contest 1999
152 The Key in the Satin Pocket 2000
153 Whispers In the Fog 2000
154 The Legend of the Emerald Lady 2000
155 The Mystery in Tornado Alley 2000 George Edward Stanley
156 The Secret in the Stars 2000 Un­known
157 The Music Festival Mystery 2000
158 The Curse of the Black Cat 2001
159 The Secret of the Fiery Chamber 2001

Aladdin Books (2001–2003)[edit]

With the new millennium, the series changed publishers to the Aladdin subdivision of Simon & Schuster. With declining sales, and the departure of longtime editor Anne Greenberg, Simon & Schuster ended the original series in November 2003.

Continuity errors are common throughout these books: in No Strings Attached and Danger on the Great Lakes (both written by George Edward Stanley), Nancy and her friends are 17 rather than 18; Ned works at a company; and George has chestnut hair (rather than brown). In Werewolf in a Winter Wonderland, Ned is blond, and it is suggested that Nancy might be in college. Numerous typographic errors and mistakes are also found throughout these books.

Titles, authorship, and publication dates (2001–2003)
No. Title Pub. Outline Manuscript Editor
160 The Clue on the Crystal Dove 2001 Un­known Anne Greenberg
161 Lost in the Everglades 2001
162 The Case of the Lost Song 2001
163 The Clues Challenge 2001
164 The Mystery of the Mother Wolf 2002
165 The Crime Lab Case 2002
166 The Case of the Creative Crime 2002
167 Mystery by Moonlight 2002
168 The Bike Tour Mystery 2002
169 The Mistletoe Mystery 2002
170 No Strings Attached 2003 George Edward Stanley Un­known
171 Intrigue at the Grand Opera 2003 Un­known
172 The Riding Club Crime 2003
173 Danger on the Great Lakes 2003 George Edward Stanley
174 A Taste of Danger 2003 Un­known
175 Werewolf in a Winter Wonderland 2003

Foreign publications[edit]

United Kingdom[edit]

The Nancy Drew Mystery Series was published in a series of hardbacks and paperbacks in the United Kingdom, starting in 1971 and 1973. The British publisher was Collins, and its paperback imprint Armada Books (which also published the Hardy Boys and Three Investigators, among other series). When the Nancy Drew series was published in England, the order was changed significantly and the titles' numbering was revised from the American standard, as Armada was "obliged to publish No. 51 onwards before publishing Nos. 41-50".[5][6]

Thus, the original fifty-six American Grosset & Dunlap-published titles become the first fifty UK titles, with #57-78 being published as #51-72. Collins, therefore, had a deal in place with both American publishers and, indeed, were obliged "for contractual reasons" to publish some of the later Simon & Schuster titles before some of the Grosset & Dunlap ones. Collins/Armada published the twenty-two Simon & Schuster/Wanderer titles in sequence, albeit off by six, and then finished publishing the six "missing" Grosset & Dunlap titles (including the first, The Secret of the Old Clock).

The twenty-two (US) Wanderer imprint titles were produced between 1979 and 1985, after which the main Nancy Drew Mystery Stories went on a short hiatus. During this time, Simon & Schuster began publishing The Nancy Drew Files series for older teenagers, and subsequently re-aligned the main series, moving it to a new imprint in 1987, with The Double Horror of Fenley Place, the first Nancy Drew title published under the American Minstrel imprint. Accordingly, after publishing twenty-two Wanderer (and seventy-eight overall) titles in the main Nancy Drew series, the Collins/Armada licence terminated in June 1992. The following month, Simon & Schuster itself began publishing the more recent Minstrel imprint titles under their Pocket Books UK imprint, starting with the now numerically-aligned #79.

Special editions and reprints[edit]

Reader's Club[edit]

Nancy Drew was issued as a book club feature, the Nancy Drew Reader's Club, from 1959 to early 1961. In all, twelve volumes were issued, six in 1959 and six in 1960.[7] These volumes were issued with new illustrations by artist Polly Bolian. The volumes matched Grosset & Dunlap's other Doubleday Book Club publication, Young Library. A full color jacket illustration was repeated as the frontispiece, and double-page pen and ink drawings highlighted the texts. References or notices for other volumes, and volume numbering, was removed from the text and the jackets.

Plans for additional titles were abandoned after two years and the series ceased publication in early 1961. The volumes are highly desired by today's collectors due to their original artwork and the scarcity of their dust jackets, made on inferior, lightweight matte paper instead of heavier-gauge glossy paper used on other editions. The books with jackets are considered scarce, those with a 1960 date being much more difficult to find by collectors.[7]

Book club editions[edit]

Nancy Drew was issued in the yellow-spine picture format, as a book club, in 1962.[8] The back covers were solid yellow, and spines feature no volume numbers. "Book Club Edition" appears on the title page. Only Volumes 1–32 were issued. In the 1970s, a book club offer was available directly from the publisher, but these volumes were exactly the same as regularly purchased volumes; they were simply mailed on schedule to the subscriber.

Twin Thriller[edit]

Several Nancy Drew books were published as two-volumes-in-one in the 1970s.[9] Covers featured geometric clover designs on lilac grey, with a vignette from one of the two volumes' original cover art. All of the volumes are sequential, i.e., 1–2, 3–4, except for the final two issued. Volumes 17 and 24 appear together as one, as they were not revised until the mid-1970s.

Applewood Books reprints[edit]

Applewood Books began reprinting facsimile editions of the early Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys in 1991. The books feature the original dust jacket art, original illustrations (although not scattered through the text), original texts, and duplication binding of the early Nancy Drew format. Many of the volumes contain forewords from adult author fans of the series, such as Sara Paretsky. Applewood issued original series titles up to #21, The Secret in the Old Attic. Although Volumes 22 and 23, The Clue in the Crumbling Wall and The Mystery of the Tolling Bell, respectively, were featured in the 2006–2007 catalogue, these additional titles were not ultimately published as company representatives stated that sales of later volumes had tapered and plans to extend the line were discontinued in 2007.[citation needed]

Literarture lithographs[edit]

In late 2006, Literarture, licensed by Simon & Schuster, began releasing prints of classic Nancy Drew dust jacket artwork by Russell Tandy, Bill Gillies and Rudy Nappi derived from pristine vintage art elements and, in some cases, following extensive research, the original paintings themselves.[10] The jackets were issued as limited-edition offset lithographs.

Grosset & Dunlap reissues[edit]

In early 2007, Grosset and Dunlap began retailing special volumes of Nancy Drew mysteries with original artwork but revised content in different product assortments and packaging.[citation needed]


  1. ^ Retitled The Secret of Shadow Ranch upon revision.
  2. ^ Retitled Mystery of the Moss-Covered Mansion upon revision.


  1. ^ "Nancy Drew Mystery Stories". Retrieved 2024-03-06.
  2. ^ Lundin, Leigh (May 28, 2014). "The Secret of the Ageless Girl". New York: Ellery Queen. Retrieved June 24, 2014.
  3. ^ Nancy Drew World: Digest Paperbacks – The Triple Hoax. Accessed April 3, 2008
  4. ^ The Nancy Drew Library: Nancy Drew Digest Paperbacks. Accessed April 3, 2008
  5. ^ From the contents page of the books, as quoted at NancyDrewWorld: UK Nancy Drew Format E, by Lea Shangraw Fox Accessed April 3, 2008
  6. ^ NancyDrewWorld UK - Picture Covers & Paperbacks. Accessed April 3, 2008
  7. ^ a b Fisher, Jenn. "Nancy Drew Sleuth: Cameo Editions."
  8. ^ Fisher, Jenn. "Nancy Drew Sleuth: Book Club Editions."
  9. ^ Fisher, Jenn. "Nancy Drew Sleuth: Twin Thrillers."
  10. ^ Fisher, Jenn. "Nancy Drew Sleuth: Modern Collectibles and Merchandise."