Nancy Drew and Friends: Girls Series Books Rediscovered

The Evolution of Nancy Drew

Early readers of the Nancy Drew series may be surprised to find the modern version of this spirited sleuth's adventures to be quite different. The character of Nancy Drew, as well as the appearance of the books, has changed over the years in many ways.

The early classic Nancy of the 1930s-1940s is bold, independent, fearless, and capable. With the revisions starting in the 1950s, Nancy is not so outspoken and accepts more help from others making her seem less heroic. Nancy also started traveling throughout the world experiencing exotic adventures and discovering new things; in one adventure she even encounters a flying saucer!

Over the years, several different spin-offs based on the original Nancy Drew character have been created. These include, among others, books aimed towards a younger audience, books that follow Nancy through her experiences in college, a new modern series and even a comic book series.

Nancy Drew Comic

The Ringmaster’s Secret

The main Nancy Drew Mystery Stories series progressed through several stages. The series started with the original 56 volumes of the Nancy Drew Mystery Stories from 1930-1979. Beginning in 1959, the original texts of volumes 1-34 were revised and updated for consistency with the later volumes.

Keene, Carolyn. The Bungalow Mystery. New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1930.

Keene, Carolyn. The Ringmaster’s Secret. New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1953.

The Flying Saucer Mystery

The Nancy Drew Digest paperbacks of the Nancy Drew Mystery Stories consisted of volumes 57-175 from 1980 to 2003. They were issued as Wanderer, Minstrel, and Aladdin imprints. Some volumes were available as hardbacks.

Keene, Carolyn. Mystery of Crocodile Island. New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1978.

Keene, Carolyn. The Flying Saucer Mystery. New York: Wanderer, 1980.

High Risk

Carolyn Keene is still writing! In addition to the main new series, Nancy Drew Girl Detective, other spin-off series are still being published. Nancy Drew Girl Detective volumes 1-12+ These books are told in a first person perspective.

Keene, Carolyn. High Risk. New York: Aladdin, 2004.

Getting Closer

Nancy Drew On Campus Volumes 1-25 In this series, Nancy, Bess, and George attend Wilder University.

Keene, Carolyn. Getting Closer. New York: Archway, 1996.

The Demon of River Heights

Nancy Drew Graphic Novels Volumes 1-3+ Graphic novels featuring Nancy Drew are being published by Papercutz.

Keene, Carolyn. The Demon of River Heights. New York: Papercutz, 2005.

Win, Place or Die

Nancy Drew Files Volumes 1-124 Published between 1986 and 1997, the Nancy Drew Files paperbacks were targeted at older readers and included romance and murder.

Keene, Carolyn. Win, Place or Die. New York: Archway, 1990.

Strike-Out Scare

Nancy Drew Notebooks Volumes 1-69+ The Notebooks series is written for younger children with Nancy, Bess and George in the third grade.

Keene, Carolyn. Strike-Out Scare. New York: Aladdin, 2005.

The Secret of the Old Clock

Different editions of The Secret of the Old Clock show how the physical appearance of the Nancy Drew books have changed over the years.

Pictured left to right:

  • 1930 edition with dust jacket illustrated by Russell Tandy
  • Revised text edition with Bill Gillies illustrated dust jacket
  • “Yellow spine” revised text edition with Rudy Nappi illustrated picture cover

Keene, Carolyn. The Secret of the Old Clock. New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1930, 1961, 1968.

The Secret of the Old Clock

Early edition showing glossy internal illustrations by Russell Tandy.

Keene, Carolyn. The Secret of the Old Clock. New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1930.