Nancy Drew Through The Years and a Giveaway

October 21st, 2008

I have been reading and collecting Nancy Drew books since I was a kid.
She is my hero.
As a result, I have spent almost my whole life failing to live up to her standards.  I still can’t pilot a plane, ride a bucking bronco, decipher ancient Sanskrit, thread a loom, play the bagpipes, dance a Russian jig, stand in for a famous actress, sail a yacht, survive a cave-in, whittle, speak Russian, tap dance morse code, horse whisper, or parasail a bus load of orphans away from a landslide.  
I can however shop and have lunch with my girlfriends.  
So in someways, Nancy taught me well.

 The book pictured above is one of my all time favorites. When I was a kid, I thought it was soooooo creepy.

I wonder if I spent a little too much time staring at this cover when I was a kid.

Because at some point, I felt it necessary to use a magic marker and give Nancy just a tiny dash of extremely tasteful blue eyeshadow… to make her eyes pop… you know because… she needed a little more oomph.
When it comes to Nancy Drew, and oomph… and pop… and giving that girl a make-over… I am not alone.  

In the above 1949 cover, Nancy, Bess and George sport prim dresses, and bobbed hair.   Nancy herself wears a dramatic long flared skirt, ruffled blouse, and a bow on her collar.  A perfect ensemble for climbing trees. 

In this 1967 version of the same book, Nancy dresses down… way down.  
So far down, she looks like she belongs to a religious cult.   I mean, where are the accessories?…the belt, the purse, the bow?  And her hair!  Where is the sparkle… the shine…. the strawberry blond highlights???  I am not even sure that girl on the cover is Nancy!  

Strangely, other than Nancy joining a cult, the covers are very similar.

This is the oldest Nancy Drew book that I own.  It is dated to 1931.

Clearly these girls were not in a cult.  

Look at those slim figures, heels, jackets and hats.  
Is that outstretched hand flicking a cigarette?  

From 1931 to 1935 Nancy underwent a few minor procedures.  

Sadly, she got rid of the hat, the heels, the scarf… and the cigarette.

This copy is dated from the 1960′s.  

She’s got her scarf back!

I made a Nancy Drew timeline!   

The first book is 1931, followed by 1935, 1960,1961, and 1969.

In these two 1970 covers, Nancy’s hair is much more mussed.

Her expression is more quizzical and knowing.
It is as if she has lost her wide-eyed innocence.  Too many crooks… too many kidnappers… and too many fudge-nut sundaes at the lunch counter with George and Bess.

The old Nancy would never have believed it!

Today, I am giving away a few Nancy Drew mysteries.  For a chance to win simply leave a comment telling me your favorite Nancy.  Or you can just say hi.  
Winners will be chosen at random.  Contest ends 8:00 PM CST Tuesday.    


  • Pamela in ATL.:

    I’ve never read a Nancy Drew book….so I’ll just say “HI”.

  • susan:

    I loved Nancy Drew. I was also into Cherry Lane, nurse. I was trying to think of a ND title and the first one that came to mind Ninty Nine Steps/

  • Sharon:

    Did you think you would learn those skills just by reading the books?And did you notice, Nancy lost a cup size from the 40s to the 60s?I have never read a Nancy Drew. We might have had a couple because my sister’s name was Nancy. ;P

  • janie:

    i read so many of them as a kid i can’t pick a favorite. i used to be able to read up to 3 of them at the same time and still keep the story lines straight. i’d read one for an hour or so, then read the next one for an hour, then move on the the 3rd one. then back to the first one. i wouldn’t be able to do that now though. my daughter has started reading nancy drew as well and is doing a book report on one of the books. :)

  • Trish D:

    Hi, I don’t have any Nancy Drew books, but I am addicted to playing her mystery games on the pc. Love reading your blog. Keep it up!

  • Anonymous:

    Grandma Bob sez: As the youngest in the family, I read what was already available. With older brothers, that turned out to be the Hardy Boys. Now that I have a granddaughter, I think it might be time to collect Nancy.

  • Foof in West TX:

    I read the books but can’t think of a favorite, it’s too early in the morning, the sun isn’t even up yet!

  • erinz:

    Nancy is good – but have you ever read Trixie Belden mysteries? She was the next generation (late 60′s early 70′s). I wanted to be her.

  • Rhea:

    OMG, you have some old Nancy Drew books. I’m in heaven. I love, love, love Nancy Drew. She was my best friend as a child…she was who I wanted to be. I wanted strawberry blonde hair, friends like Bess and George and a boyfriend like Ned. I can’t even begin to express in words what an important part of my life she was.Very cool collection and you’re awesome to host a giveaway!!I’m having a giveaway today also, but not half as cool as yours. wow.

  • Southern Gal:

    I’ve only read a couple of Nancy Drew books. That was only because I was a Hardy Boys TV show addict and then Nancy Drew came along. I’ll have to admit I liked seeing the Hardy Boys better than reading Nancy Drew. Parker Stevenson. Nuff said.

  • Cynthia:

    My favorite Nanacy is my daughter:Ella Nance HaleSHe asked to be called Nancy on her birhtday. She dresssed like Nancy, we pretended our farm was River Heights, my husband impersonated Chief McGinnis and asked for Nancy’s help in a baffling mystery.Her friends helped Nancy solve the mystery…and collect the reward.She is donning her Nancy Drew clothes for Halloween. But she wears them a lot, so it won’t be much of a stretch for her….Of course she and I both have read ALL of the Nancy Drew books, and most of the Nancy Drew Notebooks.

  • Jess:

    I too have never read a Nancy Drew book but my grandmother loved them. Pick me and I will swear on my honor to read the book as soon as it comes in the mail..

  • Lynn:

    We love Nancy Drew. My daughter says the really old ones are the best. We have quite a few of the really old ones. I enjoyed seeing your collection.

  • Cher:

    I remember liking “The Hidden Staircase.” I still have all my Nancy Drew books that I had as a kid, but I have not collected any others.

  • Melissa:

    I love Nancy Drew. My favorite is The Hidden Staircase. I love the books because I read them when I was a kid and because they are the series that finally motivated my daughter to read chapter books. If you like collecting the books and learning what the dust jackets, end pages, etc. mean the website is pretty good.

  • Deb:

    Wow- I’m impressed by your collection. Makes me wonder what happened to all my Nancy Drew books. I think I’ll go call my mom right now and ask! Seriously, I can’t pick a favorite book, so I’ll pick a favorite memory. I used to get such satisfaction putting my newest book on the shelf and then looking at the numbers to see how many I had or which ones I was missing.Debps- Millie Benson, (aka Carolyn Keene is from my hometown, Toledo!)

  • Sandy in MI:

    Ok, I have to admit I’ve never read a Nancy Drew mystery. But I watched the Hardy Boys on TV in the 70′s. I was mesmerized by Parker Stevenson.

  • Marilyn:

    Loved reading Nancy Drew (The Secret of the Old Clock) but always checked them out from the library. Would love to have some copies of my own.

  • Labyrinths Muse:

    I have to agree the Hidden Staircase was my favorite too. Now I have twin girls who are finally of an age where they are interested in the stories. We have finished another series and I think Nancy and her friends will be the next we begin.Loved seeing your collection!

  • shortoldlady:

    I did read them YEARS ago (too many to acknowledge!) and remember thinking I wish I was her!Still not.

  • Monica:

    Thank you so much for taking me down memory lane! I loved reading Nancy Drew but sadly I didn’t keep any of my books. Now I wish I had.

  • Sarah:

    My favorite, hands down, is the “Hidden Staircase”. Love it!

  • Jess to the Lo:

    I’ve never read a Nancy Drew; but would love to see what the hoopla is about.

  • koopermom:

    I remember reading her a lot when I was younger. The one I remember the most is The Hidden Staircase. All my friends and I read it at the same time, or one after the other, it was such a huge hit in the 4th grade class!

  • Rachel:

    Sadly, I have never actually read a Nancy Drew book. Blame my mother.I’d love to, though!

  • ditarae:

    My sister and I had SO MANY Nancy Drew books, all lost over time. I don’t remember the title, but I was so frightened by the cover with “The Eye” on it–ha ha!

  • lhall:

    i was hoping that at the end of that post you were going to say that you were giving some nancy drew mysteries away! they were my absolute favorite books growing up, but i’ve lost my collection somewhere along the way. i would love to have more!

  • Anonymous:

    The Password to Larkspur Lane and the Secret in the Clock. Not sure about the 2nd title but it was something like that.It’s been years and years and I still like a good mystery.Gail

  • Mugsby:

    I would brorrow books from my girl friend when I was growing up. She had the whole collection.

  • South Dakota Sandy:

    Oh how I loved when the bookmobile would come to school or my Mother would take me to the library where I could get more books to read. Nancy Drew was one of my favorites. Sadly, in a family of 8 children we never “bought” any books but we always had the trusty library! When I had my own children we had shelves and shelves of books…….

  • Sarah:

    I love Nancy Drew. I used to make my sister play it with me. (Of course, I was Nancy since I have red hair, and I forced her to be Bess). I don’t have a favourite from the series, but I’ve been on the lookout for the books as well. Unfortunately, most of the ones I’ve found are newer releases with the ugly yellow spine.

  • Anonymous:

    Religious cult, huh? That’s not very nice.

  • planetnomad:

    I grew up reading the Hardy Boys, because I have two older brothers. The summer I was 13, one of their girlfriends (now my sister-in-law, obviously a keeper) loaned me a huge box of ALL the Nancy Drew books! I switched alliances quickly. Now my daughter loves Nancy too. And she really wants a blue convertible! (Me too)Have you seen the new graphic novels of Nancy? She is not smoking a cigarette, but in attitude I think she is closer to her origins as a stylish, bobbed young woman.Please enter me (us; my daughter would fight me for these)) in the drawing. Thanks.

  • Cyndi B.:

    Read them, don’t remember specific titles though!And I liked Cherry Lane too!

  • The Thorley Family:

    I loved Nancy Drew as a kit… definitely a series I’ll be reading to my daughter soon – she’s 4 – time to initiate ;)

  • rebcarob:

    I can honestly say I have never read a Nancy Drew book – and I love to read! I don’t know how I skipped over her.

  • NanaB:

    I loved Nancy Drew books as a child. My mom would take me to the library every week to check out a new batch! One of my favorites was The Secret in the Old Attic.

  • jancd:

    I read many Nancy Drew books, but I can’t remember the names or the stories. So I’d better just say Hi, too, and go to the library and refresh my memory.

  • Kelly Dawn:

    My favorite was The Hidden Staircase…but I loved them all..I would read till all hours of the night with a flashlight under my covers… :) like my daughter does now…even tho she thinks I dont know :) I loved The Hardy Boys too :) oh and Cherry Lane? good memories :)Kelly

  • Susan:

    I used to read a lot of Nancy Drew in junior high. I’d get lost in the book for a few hours forgetting the troubles of those early teen years.I honestly don’t have a favorite book. I like all of them!

  • julie:

    I loved them all years ago.It would be fun to read them again . Thanks

  • Spinoff:

    Oh! I had Secret of Red Gate Farm. I wonder what ever happened to it? Hi!

  • Jenni:

    I read so many of these as a kid, and yet I can’t remember the details of many of them individually. Perhaps that’s because they were formula books and were enough alike that they all blend together for me. Hey, I loved that formula! I do remember The Case of the Twisted Candles (or whatever it was) and that particular cover. Who knew candles could be so spooky and ominous? I never really had any desire to makeover Nancy Drew. I think she is perfectly charming in her own way–in every incarnation except for perhaps that cult one. Actually, that outfit reminds me more of some homeschooler outfit. Switch the slim skirt for a wide, long, split skirt (very full but stiff coulottes) and I think you’ve got the look.

  • Melissa Hadley:

    I loved Nancy Drew when I was a girl, but I have had a heck of a time getting my daughter to read them…that little punk! :-)

  • Hohni:

    I haven’t read Nancy Drew for YEARS, she used to be one of my favs….

  • Anonymous:

    I too was a Nancy Drew fan. I read “Confessions of a Teen Sleuth” by Chelsea Cain recently. It’s Nancy Drew’s story written as a grown up and what really went on back when. I thought it was a fun read.lindastamps

  • Anonymous:

    The Mystery of the Hidden Staircase is the best!

  • Gladys:

    Did you notice that Nancy did not age at all in fact…she got younger? I’m thinking Nancy has a portrait in her attic that well you know. Also have you ever noticed how Nancy always dresses up to search out her mystery? I know when I get ready to look for a theif or a killer I put on my wool skir, bobby socks, penny loafers, white shirt and curl my hair. Don’t you? My favorite ND Book. I too had a thing for The Twisted Candel. Very scarey!

  • chocolatechic:

    I haven’t read her in years, so I can’t remember titles, but Nancy Drew was the first series books that I read, and I think I have read almost all of them.

  • Cathy:

    Loved Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, Trixie Belden, and Cherry Lane. It’s been so long, I can’t remember a favorite, but would love to read them again!

  • The Jillybean:

    I haven’t ever read one ( hears the gasps). I know. I just haven’t so I will say Hi. I actually have said more that Hi, but Hi anyway. I am having a give away at my place as well. Drop in for a visit

  • Iron Needles:

    Don’t need the books. Read them, have them, and got my own inadequacy issues from them! Growing up in W. KS, however, I always wondered where all those hidden houses, forested groves, curvy lanes, and mossy ponds were that her mysteries seemed to be set around. All I saw were wide horizons, wheat fields, shelter belts, and roads that crossed every freakin’ mile without fail…

  • pam:

    It’s been so long and I’m so old I don’t remember any :( Maybe it’s because I’m reading The Story of Edgar Sawtelle and it’s all I can think about.

  • Rachel:

    I have to pick one?? Ok then…I love “The Mystery at Lilac Inn”, “The Thirteenth Pearl”, and “The Secret of Shadow Ranch”.I love Nancy Drew–she’s the reason I kept a copy of Morse code in my wallet—you never know when you might need it! :-)

  • Sameday:

    I love Nancy Drew. I read so much when I was growing up my mother used to yell at me. I want to win a book – my mother is no longer around to yell at me, although I wish she was.

  • AmandaH:

    I loved Nancy Drew. I wanted to wear “sport dresses” when I was a girl. And this was in the mid-eighties…People made fun of me. Other than that, I have fond Nancy memories.

  • jcrowson:

    I love Nancy Drew – and The Hardy Boys to boot! Does anyone else remember the Hardy Boys on the old Mickey Mouse Club? My favorite Nancy Drew was “The Haunted Showboat” – because it was set in New Orleans, and I’m a southern girl:) Thanks for the walk down Nancy’s memory lane.

  • trixiefan:

    Nancy is OK, but Trixie Belden rocks! I collect Trixie books, which are about as old as Nancy Drew. Trixie is only 13, so Nancy is much more mature. I have read some Nancy, but can’t think of a favorite. The one I remember best was the Mystery of the Old Clock, I think.

  • Kent:

    Oh I loved Nancy Drew!!! My daughter is reading them all now. she can not get them fast enough. My favorite was The Hidden Staircase!! Do not let my name fool you–I am female–just got stuck with a weird name!

  • Sarah S.:

    I read every Nancy Drew book our public library had in elementary school. I don’t think I could pick a favorite. I should start reading them again for fun. Everytime I hear about cloroform I think of her! I also thought the movie that came out recently was cute.

  • Reno:

    I love Nancy Drew- and the Hardy Boys – and Trixie Beldon. I can’t remember my favorite ones – it’s been way too many years ago!

  • Anonymous:

    Ah, Nancy Drew, Trixie Belden, Donna Parker (did anyone but me read Donna Parker?) Somewhere there are lots of books with my name written in them. Every time I read or reread a book I’d write the date. I miss my old friends, those books! I can’t pick a favorite, I loved them all.Peggy

  • Kate:

    I’ve never read a Nancy Drew book. After reading you blog I now have to run out and buy one……

  • melissa:

    I’ve never read Nancy Drew but since the movie came out my daughter wants to. If I win than I can pass these books on to her and we will read them together. She standing beside me saying please please win. I don’t understand why she doesn’t like Trixie Belden…..

  • MrsMama:

    I was an only child and spent a lot of time with Nancy. The Message in the Hollow Oak was one of my favs.I saw a book at the library yesterday and thought of you. It was called, “How Nancy Drew Saved My Life” by Lauren Baratz-Logsted. You’d probably get a kick out of it. It even has a Jane Austen nod.

  • jennebeker:

    So, I used to own the Nancy Drew cookbook – I think I got it through the Scholastic book sales flyer that used to come home when I was in elementary school (they still come home, now that my daughter’s in elementary school). I loved the mysteries, but the cookbook was fun to read. Sadly, I have no idea what ever happened to it.

  • Angel:

    I couldn’t possibly choose a favorite. When I was a little girl (8-10) I read every Nancy Drew book I could get my hands on. There was something so comforting in knowing that EVERY book would have a happy, mystery-resolving ending. :)

  • Amy Cook in Wisconsin:

    I’m with the poster above, Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, Trixie Beldon, yes I read Donna Parker…anyone remember The Happy Hollisters? Many many hours reading just snuggled on the couch with my books.Ah bliss…thanks for the memories!

  • Amy Cook in Wisconsin:

    I’m with the poster above, Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, Trixie Beldon, yes I read Donna Parker…anyone remember The Happy Hollisters? Many many hours reading just snuggled on the couch with my books.Ah bliss…thanks for the memories!

  • Amy Cook in Wisconsin:

    I’m with the poster above, Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, Trixie Beldon, yes I read Donna Parker…anyone remember The Happy Hollisters? Many many hours reading just snuggled on the couch with my books.Ah bliss…thanks for the memories!

  • ~Mad:

    Interestingly enough – it’s Clue of the Leaning Chimney. But I remember nothing but the title – I am going to have to go back and read some again.As well, I’m from German-stock and love Reubens…even moreso, pickled herring!!!! You?~Mad(elyn) in Alabama

  • PJ in Illinois:

    I sed to read Nancy Drew when I was a kid. I’m well past the kid age now so can’t remember which one was my favorite.

  • Suzanne:

    I loved Nancy Drew as a kid I haven’t read one in many, many years. I’m too old to remember my favorite one so let’s just say they’re all my favorite.I’ve got my fingers crossed and I’m feeling lucky.- Suzanne, the Farmer’s Wife

  • Megan:

    I was a Trixie Belden fan… but I do like Nancy. So I get in on the nancy book action!

  • Lori R:

    I think I read all of them when I was a kid. I loved every single one! My funny ND memory: one year we went on vacation at the lake. Someone had left a pile of ND books in the lodge. Books I hadn’t read yet. JACKPOT!! The next day they all disappeared. I was devastated. At the end of the week I found out my little brothers had hidden them so I would come outside and play! It was The Case of the Missing Books.

  • Southern Gal:

    Hi! I can't remember any Nancy Drew books I read! I could always cheat & say, "Oh, The Sign of the Twisted Candles is definitely my fave!"I did read a few Nancy Drews when I was younger and at my grandma's house and all out of Babysitters' Club and Sweet Valley Twins (I'm ashamed), & found some of my aunt's old Nancy Drew books & my dad's old Hardy Boys book. I remember liking them at least!

  • ~*~ Jennifer ~*~:

    75 comments… well of all the luck.HI!

  • Susan K:

    I loved Nancy. My daughter and girl friend now play the Nancy Drew mysteries on the computer.Trixie Belden was great, a little more believable when I read her in the 70′s.

  • Anonymous:

    Nancy Drew and The Little House books got me through a horrible childhood. I can’t choose a favorite.Kris

  • Lisa:

    I have read all of the books…Nancy was my go-to girl in elementary school…sadly I only have boys so no one to share my love with. I love your blog and read it daily…I grew up across the state line from you (Benkelman, NE) so I feel like I already know you. And we do have a few things in common – only sons, close to the same age, and (gasp) public school our children. In fact, I’m running for my local school board!Thanks for sharing your life with us…

  • wiccanstitcher:

    I love love Nancy Drew and that is how I got stuck on mystery books. I would love to have the older copies of her books and someday I hope to have the collection in my library.

  • Mindy:

    I can’t explain it but I’ve never read a Nancy Drew book although I read many other similar books. Woe is me…I think I should start reading!

  • Barbara:

    Nancy Drew is still my hero, too. They make computer games with similar storylines to the novels. THey are my passion!

  • Jill:

    The Hidden Staircase was my favorite. I still have it and it’s sitting on the bookshelf in my 10 year old daughter’s room. She got some new one’s for her birthday and Nancy isn’t even pictured on the cover! There’s a close up shot of Nancy’s eyes and that’s it. I’m feeling strangely tempted to go add some lovely blue eye shadow!

  • mom:

    I have read all the books, mostly those old ones published in the 30s,40s, and 50s. I have passed them on to grandaughters, but I don’t even know if they ever read them.

  • Tracy:

    The Ghost of Blackwood Hall, the name is scary and the picture on the front is too! For my money, the yellow spines are IT! I have read every single one of them and still have my collection(which always has room for one more…hint, hint!)and I also play the games.I love your pictures you took, I sometimes do a search on ebay just to see the covers!

  • cottonclippings:

    I would simply kill to have some of the original Nancy Drews instead of the edited washed up things they sell now. That said, I did enjoy the Sawami’s Ring (a new one). Also, the fan fiction books that has Nancy Drew working with the Hardy Boys are hard to pass up. Please pick me, I’m positively dying to read these.

  • Baba:

    I read Nancy Drew as a child, but there weren’t that many available then, maybe only one at that. So I read the Hardy Boys too. Both of these peaked my interest in Mysterys which I still hold today. Would love the win these and give to my grand-daughters who are all readers (it runs in the family). Then I could catch up on all the ones I missed out on too.

  • Anonymous:

    I love Nancy Drew! I have all of her books and read them all when I was a little girl. I never put as much thought as you did though into her different “looks” but I will have to say I agree with you!

  • pamcake:

    I read every single one as a little girl. In fact, in third grade I wrote my own mystery, with myself as Nancy, of course, and my two best friends as Bess, the pretty but plump one, and the slim athletic one. I had quite a few of the books, because that is what I asked for for Christmas. I wanted to grow up to be just like her. Also read and loved the Trixie Belden books, Hardy Boys and Cherry Ames, student nurse. These books started my love of reading that continues to this day.

  • ilovemy6kids:

    The 99 Steps is my fav. My girls are very into Nancy lately and you should see my library fines!!!Sheri

  • 1inCollege1inDiapers:

    Oh, I loved Nancy Drew books. I knew that I was going to end up a detective….sadly not. But my daughter who is now 16 is also a giant fan. It’s nice to know that the books can be old and still enjoyable now.

  • becks:

    I loved them all…don’t think I could pick one. Makes me want to go read another one looking at your pictures. I have all boys and they are into Hardy Boys. :)

  • Melanie K. from RC:

    I’ll just say “Hi” because I’ve never read Nancy Drew, but my daughter would love them.

  • Cami:

    My favorite is The Ringmaster’s Secret. I got into Nancy Drew by reading all my mom’s collection when I was a kid. I guess I am still a kid, really

  • Molly:

    One of my fondest memories is riding my bike, which had a basket attached on the front, to the public library and picking out my own books. Nancy Drew is the first series I recall, along with The Black Stallion series. I must have made the trip two or three times a week.

  • Rachel C.:

    I love, love, love, love, LOVE Nancy Drew!!! I was so excited when I heard they were making a movie of her, but then so disappointed when I saw the preview. I just skipped it. :(

  • Ange:

    I loved Nancy Drew but my Mom hated her. It might have something to do with the fact that I dug the mortar out from around our rock fireplace because I just knew there was a secret compartment there and that a clue was just waiting for me to find it.Oh yeah, I did catch a clue. If you dig out the rocks in your moms fireplace you get to spend a week in your room and you lose your Nancy Drew for a month.

  • Serial Mommy:

    i have NEVER read nancy drew…i was thinking that she and the hardy boys would be good beginner books for my kids…i could read to my 1st grader (she’s still learning) and have my 4th grader use it for his 1/2 hour reading time each day…we homeschool…anyway…i like books…any books, even books i’ve never read…

  • momof3txvakids:

    hmmm…i’m not sure i could pick a fave. have you ever listened to the audiobooks? they are soo perfect

  • krueth:

    I read Nancy Drew books many years ago…yikes. that dates me too..ha! but I truly loved each one I read. Thanks for the contest. Wendy

  • Beth:

    My sister (b. 1952) had a collection of Nancy Drew mysteries and I read every one with great enthusiasm. I loved them!But when I ran out, my mother handed me my brothers’ (b. 1950 and 1953) Hardy Boys mysteries. Being the youngest by a significant gap, I had them all to myself and read them all a few times. I can’t imagine how I wasn’t consumed by mystery solving with my childhood friends growing up!It’s tough to choose a favorite though.