In an elementary school library in the early 1990s, before Google existed, rumors about Nancy Drew’s mysterious author abounded: Carolyn Keene was from Toledo, OH. She and Hardy Boys’ author Franklin W. Dixon were actually the same person, writing under different names. Our staff writer who heard and believed these rumors grew up to discover that, as is often the case, they were not accurate, though there is a hint of truth. If you’d like to find out the real story about the series’ authorship and a whole lot more, we recommend reading Melanie Rehak’s Girl Sleuth.
Rehak takes us on a fascinating journey beginning with Edward Stratemeyer’s background and the creation of his Stratemeyer Syndicate. Both the man and his company played a huge role in the creation of series like The Bobbsey Twins, The Hardy Boys, and The Nancy Drew Mystery Stories. But wait a minute, you may be thinking, doesn’t Rehak’s title refer to the women who created Nancy Drew? Yes, and rightfully so. Rehak introduces us to a cast of women—a writer and journalist named Mildred Augustine Wirt Benson, who, though she came from Iowa, ended up moving to Ohio, and yes, eventually Toledo; Stratemeyer’s daughters, Harriet and Edna, who took over the Syndicate after his death in 1930; and Harriet Otis Smith, his secretary—who all contributed, to various extents, to the series.