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Nancy Drew is a fictional American character in a mystery fiction series created by publisher Edward Stratemeyer as the female counterpart to his Hardy Boys series. The books are ghostwritten by a number of authors and published under the collective pseudonym Carolyn Keene.
The original Nancy Drew Mystery Stories series started in 1930, and ended in 2004.
She was a skilled driver who at sixteen 'flashed into the garage with a skill born of long practice.' The prodigy was a sure shot, an excellent swimmer, skillful oarsman, expert seamstress, gourmet cook, and a fine bridge player.
Edward Stratemeyer and his daughters Harriet Adams and Edna Stratemeyer Squier wrote most of the outlines for the original Nancy Drew series until 1979.
Book packager Mega-Books subsequently hired authors to write the main Nancy Drew series and a new series, The Nancy Drew Files.
In 1980, Harriet Adams switched publishers to Simon & Schuster, dissatisfied with the lack of creative control at Grosset & Dunlap and the lack of publicity for the Hardy Boys' 50th anniversary in 1977.
Exact sales figures are not available for the years prior to 1979, but an indication of the books' popularity can be seen in a letter that Laura Harris, a Grosset and Dunlap editor, wrote to the Syndicate in 1931: "can you let us have the manuscript as soon as possible, and no later than July 10?
There will only be three or four titles brought out then and the Nancy Drew is one of the most important." In 1934 Fortune magazine featured the Syndicate in a cover story and singled Nancy Drew out for particular attention: "Nancy is the greatest phenomenon among all the fifty-centers. How she crashed a Valhalla that had been rigidly restricted to the male of her species is a mystery even to her publishers." In accordance with the customs of Stratemeyer Syndicate series production, ghostwriters for the Syndicate signed contracts that have sometimes been interpreted as requiring authors to sign away all rights to authorship or future royalties.
After Adams's death, series production was overseen by Nancy Axelrad (who also wrote several volumes).