“Read, read, read. That’s all I can say.”
Nancy Drew offered this incredible advice in the first Nancy Drew Mystery Story, written by Carolyn Keene.
I wished I’d written that. I’m sure that for years the real Carolyn Keene, Mildred “Millie” Augustine Wirt Benson, wished readers knew that she had.
The Secret of the Old Clock was not only the first Nancy Drew Mystery, it was the first Millie wrote for Edward Stratemeyer.
Millie was the original Carolyn Keene.
And Edward was the genius behind such series as The Hardy Boys, The Bobbsey Twins, and yes, Nancy Drew.
Edward created the Stratemeyer Syndicate, which served as a “book packager”, a connection between ghostwriters he would hire and publishers.
Millie wrote 23 of the first 30 of the Nancy Drew Mystery Series. And then she went on to write a total of 135 books for children, often up to 13 books a year. And, while she was doing so, she was tending to her bed-ridden husband and her young daughter.
Then Millie became a reporter, working for the Toledo Times and The (Toledo) Blade for a combined 58 years.
As if that wasn’t enough, Millie obtained her private pilot’s license at the age of 62. She didn’t stop there. She applied for NASA’s Journalist in Space Program when she was in her eighties.
Millie once stated that a character she created, Penny Parker, was more Nancy Drew than Nancy Drew was.
I might suggest Millie Benson was more Nancy Drew than either of the fictional characters.
It was a fascinating journey researching and writing Millie’s biography.
Missing Millie Benson: The Secret Case of the Nancy Drew Ghostwriter and Journalist is available now at your favorite bookstore.
In the immortal words of Millie, “Read, read, read. That’s all I can say.”