Fictional teenage sleuth Nancy Drew wasn't supposed to be a feminist. When publisher Edward Stratemeyer conceived the character, he was just adding to his empire of young reader book series that included The Hardy Boys, The Rover Boys, and The Bobbsey Twins.
The creator of the original Nancy Drew Series was actually a strident believer in “traditional” roles for women
While it’s no surprise that Edward Stratemeyer held these conservative views in the ’20s, he saw the success of the Hardy Boys series—in which brothers Frank and Joe Hardy solve mysteries—as an opportunity to develop a similar series for young girls. Previously, Stratemeyer’s former girl heroines were much more domestic, like Honey Bunch, a character, who the New Yorker points out, “knew exactly how to do a washing for she had watched the laundress many times.”
It was the authors who actually wrote the books who gave Nancy Drew the guts to do the things she did, particularly Mildred Wirt. Read about Wirt and learn a lot more about the history of the Nancy Drew mysteries at The Daily Dot.
(Image credit: Flickr user Abbey Hendrickson)