Nancy Drew Celebrates Her 80th Anniversary

By Jason Boog Comment

nancydrew227.jpgEver since this GalleyCat editor cracked a classic Nancy Drew book’s yellow spine in the 1980s, we’ve been hooked on detective stories–from the Hardy Boys to Paul Auster.

Today’s guest on the Morning Media Menu was Nancy Drew expert Jennifer Fisher–celebrating the 80th anniversary of the world’s most famous girl detective (pictured in a fancy new edition). In 2000, Fisher founded Nancy Drew Sleuths, an organization of “American and international fans and scholars” dedicated to the 80-year-old detective. Fisher talked about the life of ghostwriters in the 1930s, fan conventions, and how authors can build community online and in the real world.

Press play below to listen.

Here’s an excerpt about the life of a Nancy Drew ghostwriter: “The first ghostwriter, Mildred Wirt Benson, she wrote 23 of the first 30 books. For this particular kind of work, the ghostwriters were paid a flat fee. The fee was actually the equivalent of several month’s salary for a couple of weeks of work. It was actually pretty good money for what the job was … she definitely had to work for that paycheck, especially in the mid-1930s when her first husband became an invalid–she really had to step up the output to help the family.”

Here’s more about freelance pay disputes in the series: “Briefly, during the Great Depression, Walter Karig, a Navy man, wrote three of the books–eight, nine, and ten. That was due to the fact that because of the Depression [the publisher] was offering a pay cut. That was one reason why Benson took a break from writing the books.”