Nancy Drew e years: The 1930's Nancy Drew is characterized as bold, capable and independent. She actively seeksher confident expression suggests to viewers that she is in control of the situation.

Tandy's home was struck by fire in 1962, and most of his original paintings and sketches were destroyed. As a result, the Tandy dust-jackets are considered very valuable by collectors.

Bill Gillies and othersEdit

Beginning in the early 1950s, Nancy's look was updated. Following the postwar trend for young people to have their own casual style, instead of dressing the same as adults, Nancy becomes less constrained. Sweater or blouse and skirt ensembles, as well as a pageboy hairstyle, were introduced in 1948, and continued with new artist Bill Gillies, who updated 10 covers and illustrated three new jackets from 1950 to 1952. Gillies used his wife for a model, and Nancy reflects the conservative 1950s, with immaculate waved hair and a limited wardrobe–she wears similar sweater, blouse, and skirt ensembles on most of these covers. Gillies also designed the modern-era trademark as a spine symbol: Nancy's head in profile, looking through a quizzing glass.

Beginning in the 1940s, and continuing throughout the 1950s, Nancy is depicted less frequently in the center of the action. Instead, she is likely to be observing others. Her mouth is often open in surprise, and she hides her body from view. However, although Nancy "expresses surprise, she is not afraid. She appears to be a bit taken aback by what she sees, but she looks as if she is still in control of the situation."

Rudy Nappi and othersEdit

Rudy Nappi, the artist from 1953 to 1979, illustrates a more average teenager. Nappi was asked by Grosset & Dunlap's art director to update Nancy's appearance, especially her wardrobe. Nappi gave Nancy Peter Pan collars, a pageboy, (later a flip haircut), and the occasional pair of jeans. Nancy's hair color was changed from blonde to strawberry-blond, reddish-blond or titian by the end of the decade. The change, due to a printing ink error, was considered so favorable that it was adopted in the text.

In 1962, all Grosset & Dunlap books become "picture covers," books with artwork and advertising printed directly on their covers, as opposed to books with a dust jacket over a tweed volume. The change was to reduce production costs. Several of the 1930s and 1940s cover illustrations were updated by Rudy Nappi for this change, depicting a Nancy of the Kennedy era, though the stories themselves were not updated. Internal illustrations, which were dropped in 1937, were returned to the books beginning in 1954, as pen and ink line drawings, mostly by uncredited artists, but usually corresponding with Nappi's style of drawing Nancy on the covers.

Unlike Tandy, Nappi did not read the books before illustrating them; instead, his wife read them and provided him with a brief plot summary before Nappi began painting. Nappi's first cover was for The Clue of the Velvet Mask, where he began a trend of portraying Nancy as "bobby-soxer ... a contemporary sixteen-year-old. This Nancy was perky, clean-cut, and extremely animated. In the majority of his covers Nancy looks startled – which, no doubt, she was."

Earlier Nappi covers show Nancy in poses similar to those in the covers by Tandy and Gillies. Later Nappi covers show only Nancy's head, surrounded by smaller pictures of people and clues from the story. Often, "Nancy's face wears the blank expression of one lost in thought," making her appear passive. On the cover of The Strange Message in the Parchment (1977), for example, in contrast to earlier covers, Nancy "is not shown in the midst of danger or even watching a mystery unfold from a distance. Instead, Nancy is shown thinking about the clues;" in general, Nancy becomes less confident and more puzzled.

Nancy in the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000sEdit

See also: Girl Detective Nancy is shown in danger on the cover of The Case of the Vanishing Veil (1980) and other covers from the 1980s. Unlike in earlier covers from the series, she is not completely in control of the situation.Ruth Sanderson and Paul Frame provided cover art and interior illustrations for the first Nancy Drew paperbacks, published under the Wanderer imprint. Other artists, including Aleta Jenks and others whose names are unknown, provided cover art, but no interior illustrations, for later paperbacks. Nancy is portrayed as "a wealthy, privileged sleuth who looks pretty and alert.... The colors, and Nancy's facial features, are often so vivid that some of the covers look more like glossy photographs than paintings."

Nancy is frequently portrayed pursuing a suspect, examining a clue, or observing action. She is often also shown in peril: being chased, falling off a boat, or hanging by a rope from rafters. These covers are characterized by frenetic energy on Nancy's part; whether she is falling, limbs flailing, an alarmed look on her face, or whether she is running, hair flying, body bent, face breathless. Nancy does not have any control over the events that are happening in these covers. She is shown to be a victim, being hunted and attacked by unseen foes. Nancy is also sometimes pursued by a visibly threatening foe, as on the cover of The Case of the Vanishing Veil (1988).

The covers of the Nancy Drew Files and Girl Detective series represent further departures from the bold, confident character portrayed by Tandy. The Nancy portrayed on the covers of the Nancy Drew Files is "a markedly sexy Nancy, with a handsome young man always lurking in the background. Her clothes often reveal an ample bustline and her expression is mischievous." In the Girl Detective series, Nancy's face is depicted on each cover in fragments. Her eyes, for example, are confined to a strip across the top of the cover while her mouth is located near the spine in a box independent of her eyes. The artwork for Nancy's eyes and mouth is taken from Rudy Nappi's cover art for the revised version of The Secret of the Old Clock.


Main article: List of Nancy Drew books The longest-running series of books to feature Nancy Drew is the Nancy Drew Mystery Stories series, whose 175 volumes were published from 1930 to 2003. Nancy also appeared in 124 titles in the Nancy Drew Files and is currently the heroine of the Girl Detective series. Various other series feature the character, such as the Nancy Drew Notebooks and Nancy Drew On Campus. While Nancy Drew is the central character in each series, continuity is preserved only within one series, not between them all; for example, in concurrently published titles in the Nancy Drew Mystery Stories and the Nancy Drew On Campus series, Nancy is respectively dating her boyfriend Ned Nickerson or broken up with Ned Nickerson.

International publicationsEdit

The Nancy Drew Mystery Stories, Nancy Drew Files, and Girl Detective books have been translated into a number of languages besides English. Estimates vary from between 14 and 25 languages, but 25 seems the most accurate number. Nancy Drew books have been published in many European, Scandinavian, Latin American, and Asian countries. The character of Nancy Drew seems to be more popular in some countries than others. Nancy Drew books have been in print in Norway since 1941 (the first country outside USA), in Denmark since 1958, and in France also since the 1950s. Other countries, such as Estonia, have only recently begun printing Nancy Drew books.

Nancy's name is often changed in translated editions: in France, she is known as Alice Roy; in Sweden, as Kitty Drew; in Finland, as Paula Drew; and in Norway the book series has the name of Frøken Detektiv (Miss Detective), though the heroine's name is still Nancy Drew inside the books. In Germany, Nancy is a German law student named Susanne Langen. George Fayne's name is even more frequently changed, to Georgia, Joyce, Kitty, or Marion. Cover art and series order is often changed as well, and in many countries only a limited number of Drew books are available in translation.

Film and televisionEdit

Five, possibly six, feature films, one TV film, and two television shows featuring Nancy Drew have been produced to date. No television show featuring Nancy Drew has lasted longer than two years, and film portrayals of the character have met with mixed reviews.


Former child actress Bonita Granville portrayed Nancy Drew in four Warner Bros. films directed by William Clemens in the late 1930s: Nancy Drew -- Detective (loosely based on The Password to Larkspur Lane) (December 1938), Nancy Drew... Reporter (March 1939), Nancy Drew: Trouble Shooter (September 1939), and Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase (November 1939).[104] A fifth movie may have been planned or even produced, but it was never released; actor Frankie Thomas believes that he and Granville made five movies, not four, and in August 1939 Harriet Adams wrote to Mildred Benson, "three have been shown in this area, and I have just heard that a fifth is in production."

Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase was the only film to borrow its title from a book in the series, although the plot was altered substantially. One critic wrote that "the only similarity between the book and the film was the word staircase." Nancy's boyfriend Ned Nickerson became Ted Nickerson, as Ned was considered too old-fashioned, and housekeeper Hannah Gruen was replaced by Effie Schneider, a minor character who had appeared in only a few books as the Drews' part-time maid; in the films, Effie's traits are combined with Hannah's. Nancy's friends George and Bess were eliminated completely, "mystery elements were downplayed, plots simplified, and the romance spiced up." To promote the film, Warner Brothers created a Nancy Drew fan club that included a set of rules, such as: "Must have steady boy friend, in the sense of a 'pal'" and must "Take part in choosing own clothes." These rules were based on some research Warner Bros. had done on the habits and attitudes of "typical" teenage girls.

Critical reaction to these films is mixed. Some find that the movies did not "depict the true Nancy Drew", in part because Granville's Nancy "blatantly used her feminine wiles (and enticing bribes)" to accomplish her goals. The films also portray Nancy as childish and easily flustered, a significant change from her portrayal in the books. Nevertheless, Mildred Benson, the author of most Nancy Drew books at the time, liked the films.

A new movie adaptation of Nancy Drew was released on June 15, 2007 by Warner Brothers Pictures, with Emma Roberts as Nancy Drew, Max Thieriot as Ned Nickerson and Tate Donovan as Carson Drew. As with the earlier Drew films, reactions were mixed. Some see the film as updated version of the basic character: "although it has been glammed up for the lucrative tween demographic, the movie retains the best parts of the books, including, of course, their intelligent main character." Others find the movie "jolting" because Nancy's "new classmates prefer shopping to sleuthing, and Nancy's plaid skirt and magnifying glass make her something of a dork, not the town hero she was in the Midwest."


A television series called The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries ran from 1977 to 1979 on ABC. It initially starred 24-year-old Pamela Sue Martin as Nancy. For the first season, episodes featuring Nancy alternated with episodes featuring the Hardy Boys. Beginning in the second season, the format of the series changed to focus more on the Hardy Boys, with Nancy Drew primarily appearing as a guest star in several crossover story lines; Martin left the series midway through the second season and was replaced by Janet Louise Johnson for the final few episodes. The series continued for a third season as The Hardy Boys Mysteries, dropping Nancy Drew completely.

In 1989, Canadian production company Nelvana began filming for a second Nancy Drew television series, to be called Nancy Drew and Daughter. Margot Kidder was cast as an adult Nancy Drew and her daughter as Nancy's daughter; however, Kidder was injured during filming of the first episode when the brakes failed on the car she was driving, and production was canceled.

Nelvana began production of another Nancy Drew television show in 1995. Tracy Ryan starred as Nancy Drew, but the show was cancelled after one season. The American Broadcasting Company aired a TV film featuring Maggie Lawson as Nancy Drew in 2002.

Computer gamesEdit

Computer games publisher Her Interactive began publishing Nancy Drew computer games in 1998. Some titles are taken from published Nancy Drew books, such as The Secret of the Old Clock and The Secret of Shadow Ranch. The games are targeted at "ages 10 and up" and are rated "E" ("Everyone") by the ESRB. They follow the popular adventure game style of play. Players must move Nancy around in a virtual environment to talk to suspects, pick up clues, solve puzzles, and eventually solve the crime. The games have received recognition for promoting female interest in video games. Her Interactive has also released several versions of their Nancy Drew games in French, as part of a series called Les Enquêtes de Nancy Drew, and a shorter game as part of a new series called the Nancy Drew Dossier; the first, Lights, Camera, Curses, was released in 2008 and the second, Resorting to Danger, was released in 2009, and Ship of Shadows has been canceled along with the series. Her Interactive has also released The White Wolf of Icicle Creek on the Nintendo Wii system, as of December 2008.

Nancy Drew AdventureEdit

  • Secrets Can Kill (PC 1998)
  • Stay Tuned for Danger (PC 1999)
  • Message in a Haunted Mansion (PC 2000)
  • Treasure in the Royal Tower (PC 2001)
  • The Final Scene (PC 2001)
  • Secret of the Scarlet Hand (PC 2002)
  • Ghost Dogs of Moon Lake (PC 2002)
  • The Haunted Carousel (PC 2003)
  • Danger on Deception Island (PC 2003)
  • The Secret of Shadow Ranch (PC 2004)
  • Curse of Blackmoor Manor (PC 2004)
  • Secret of the Old Clock (PC 2005)
  • Last Train to Blue Moon Canyon (PC 2005)
  • Danger By Design (PC 2006)
  • The Creature of Kapu Cave (PC 2006)
  • White Wolf of Icicle Creek (PC 2007/Nintendo Wii 2008)
  • Legend of the Crystal Skull (PC 2007)
  • The Phantom of Venice (PC 2008)
  • The Haunting of Castle Malloy (PC 2008)
  • Ransom of the Seven Ships (PC 2009)
  • Warnings at Waverly Academy (PC 2009)
  • Trail of the Twister (PC/Mac 2010)
  • Secrets Can Kill Remastered (PC/Mac 2010)
  • Shadow at the Water's Edge (PC/Mac 2010)
  • The Captive Curse (PC/Mac 2011)
  • Alibi in Ashes (PC/Mac 2011)
  • Tomb of the Lost Queen (PC/Mac 2012)
  • The Deadly Device (PC/Mac 2012)
  • Ghost of Thornton Hall (PC/Mac 2013)
  • The Silent Spy (PC/Mac 2013)
  • The Shattered Medallion (PC/Mac 2014)
  • Labyrinth of Lies (PC/Mac 2014)
  • Sea of Darkness (PC/Mac 2015)
  • Midnight in Salem (PC/Mac 2016)

Nancy Drew DossierEdit

  • Lights, Camera, Curses (PC 2008)
  • Resorting to Danger (PC 2009)
  • Ship of Shadows (Canceled)

In addition to the games created by Her Interactive for the PC, a new game for the Nintendo DS was released in September 2007 by Majesco Entertainment. The game, called Nancy Drew: Deadly Secret of Olde World Park, will let players help Nancy solve the mystery of a missing billionaire. The game was developed by Gorilla Systems Co. Majesco has also released two other Nancy Drew games for the DS, entitled Nancy Drew: The Mystery of the Clue Bender Society (released July 2008) and Nancy Drew: The Hidden Staircase, based on the second book in the original Nancy Drew Mystery Stories series (released September 2008). Nancy Drew The Hidden Staircase and Nancy Drew The Model Mysteries, both by THQ, are also available on the Nintendo DS system.


A number of Nancy Drew products have been licensed over the years, primarily in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s. Parker Brothers produced a "Nancy Drew Mystery Game" in 1957 with the approval of the Stratemeyer Syndicate. In 1967 Madame Alexander produced a Nancy Drew doll. The doll carried binoculars and camera and was available in two outfits: a plaid coat or a dress and short jacket. Harriet Adams disapproved of the doll's design, believing Nancy's face to be too childish, but the doll was marketed nonetheless. Various Nancy Drew coloring, activity, and puzzle books have also been published, as has a Nancy Drew puzzle. A Nancy Drew Halloween costume and a Nancy Drew lunchbox were produced in the 1970s as television show tie-ins.

Cultural impactEdit

According to commentators, the cultural impact of Nancy Drew has been enormous. The immediate success of the series led directly to the creation of numerous other girls' mysteries series, such as The Dana Girls Mystery Stories and the Kay Tracey Mystery Stories, and the phenomenal sales of the character Edward Stratemeyer feared was "too flip" encouraged publishers to market many other girls' mystery series, such as the Judy Bolton Series, and to request authors of series such as the Cherry Ames Nurse Stories to incorporate mystery elements into their works.

Many prominent and successful women cite Nancy Drew as an early formative influence whose character encouraged them to take on unconventional roles, including Supreme Court Justices Sandra Day O'Connor, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, and Sonia Sotomayor; journalist Barbara Walters; singer Beverly Sills; mystery authors Sara Paretsky and Nancy Pickard; scholar Carolyn Heilbrun; Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton; former First Lady Laura Bush; and former president of the National Organization for Women Karen DeCrow. Less prominent women also credit the character of Nancy Drew with helping them to become stronger women; when the first Nancy Drew conference was held, at the University of Iowa, in 1993, conference organizers received a flood of calls from women who "all had stories to tell about how instrumental Nancy had been in their lives, and about how she had inspired, comforted, entertained them through their childhoods, and, for a surprising number of women, well into adulthood."

Nancy Drew's popularity continues unabated: in 2002, the first Nancy Drew book published, The Secret of the Old Clock, alone sold 150,000 copies, good enough for top-50 ranking in children's books, and other books in the series sold over 100,000 copies each. Sales of the hardcover volumes of the Nancy Drew Mystery Stories alone have surpassed sales of Agatha Christie titles, and newer titles in the Girl Detective series have reached the New York Times bestseller lists. Approximately 10 new Drew titles are released a year, in both book and graphic novel form, and a sequel to the 2007 Nancy Drew film is planned. Entertainment Weekly ranked her seventeenth on its list of "The Top 20 Heroes", ahead of Batman, explaining that Drew is the "first female hero embraced by most little girls ... [Nancy lives] in an endless summer of never-ending adventures and unlimited potential." The magazine goes on to cite Scooby-Doo's Velma Dinkley as well as Veronica Mars as Nancy Drew's "copycat descendants".

Many feminist critics have pondered the reason for the character's iconic status. Nancy's car, and her skill in driving and repairing it, are often cited. Melanie Rehak points to Nancy's famous blue roadster (now a blue hybrid) as a symbol of "ultimate freedom and independence." Not only does Nancy have the freedom to go where she pleases (a freedom other, similar characters such as The Dana Girls do not have), she is also able to change a tire and fix a flawed distributor, prompting Paretsky to argue that in "a nation where car mechanics still mock or brush off complaints by women Nancy remains a significant role model."

Nancy is also treated with respect: her decisions are rarely questioned and she is trusted by those around her. Male authority figures believe her statements, and neither her father nor Hannah Gruen, the motherly housekeeper, "place ... restrictions on her comings and goings." Nancy's father not only imposes no restrictions on his daughter, but trusts her both with her own car and his gun (in the original version of The Hidden Staircase [1930]), asks her advice on a frequent basis, and accedes to all her requests. Some critics, such as Betsy Caprio and Ilana Nash, argue that Nancy's relationship with her continually approving father is satisfying to girl readers because it allows them to vicariously experience a fulfilled Electra complex.

Unlike other girl detectives, Nancy does not go to school (for reasons that are never explained), and she thus has complete autonomy. Similar characters, such as Kay Tracey, do go to school, and not only lose a degree of independence but also of authority. The fact of a character's being a school-girl reminds "the reader, however fleetingly, of the prosaic realities of high-school existence, which rarely includes high adventures or an authoritative voice in the world of adults."

Some see in Nancy's adventures a mythic quality. Nancy often explores secret passages, prompting Nancy Pickard to argue that Nancy Drew is a figure equivalent to the ancient Sumerian deity Inanna and that Nancy's "journeys into the 'underground'" are, in psychological terms, explorations of the unconscious. Nancy is a heroic figure, undertaking her adventures not for the sake of adventure alone, but in order to help others, particularly the disadvantaged. For this reason, Nancy Drew has been called the modern embodiment of the character of "Good Deeds" in Everyman.

In the end, many critics agree that at least part of Nancy Drew's popularity depends on the way in which the books and the character combine sometimes contradictory values: For over 60 years, the Nancy Drew series has told readers that they can have the benefits of both dependence and independence without the drawbacks, that they can help the disadvantaged and remain successful capitalists, that they can be both elitist and democratic, that they can be both child and adult, and that they can be both "liberated" women and "Daddys' little girls." As another critic puts it, "Nancy Drew 'solved' the contradiction of competing discourses about American womanhood by entertaining them all."

In 2010, Nancy Drew (and her novels) were discussed in the Young Adult themed issue of the academic journal "Studies in the Novel." See Jennifer M. Woolston's essay entitled "Nancy Drew’s Body: The Case of the Autonomous Female Sleuth" for a detailed discussion of the heroine's impact on popular culture. The essay also discusses links to Nancy Drew and feminist theory.