Helen Archer (née Corning), is a character in the popular Nancy Drew Mystery Stories. Helen appeared first in 1930 in The Secret of the Old Clock. Helen's character appears in a larger role in The Bungalow Mystery, and is also present in The Mystery at Lilac Inn. In the 1930 editions, Helen is a friend of Nancy's, but does not actively get involved in her mysteries. Helen is also featured in the 1932 edition of Nancy's Mysterious Letter, and the 1933 edition of The Password to Larkspur Lane, and again in 1943's The Clue in the Jewel Box. Helen only takes an active role sleuthing in Larkspur Lane, which was not ghostwritten by Mildred Wirt Benson. Nancy completes detective work alone in the original versions of the first four volumes. This formula is replaced mostly by a trio using cousins Bess Marvin and George Fayne to compliment Nancy's personality in 1931's The Secret at Shadow Ranch, although Walter Karig would re-introduce Helen in two of the three volumes he ghostwrote during the 1930s.
In 1959, the original series began revision. Due to inquiries from series readers over the years, Harriet Stratemeyer Adams developed a way to phase Helen Corning out naturally. Helen is still Nancy's friend, but now she is three years older than Nancy. In The Hidden Staircase she introduces Nancy to relatives with a haunted house and helps her solve the mystery. She also confides to Nancy that she has secretly gotten engaged to Jim Archer. In volumes three and four, Helen helps investigate, but is also busy planning her wedding. It is to be assumed Helen married shortly after 1961's The Mystery at Lilac Inn, when she and Nancy are planning to be in another friend's wedding. Helen appears in all following revised volumes as Helen Archer; in the revised version of texts in which she originally appeared, Bess, George, and other characters replace her involvement, or her part is minimized. She is included in the current "Girl Detective" series. Helen plays a role in many of the later books in the original 56 hardcover stories; she and her husband figure prominently in The Invisible Intruder, where the plot involves investigating different ghostly or bizarre sites.
- The Secret of the Old Clock
- The Hidden Staircase (revision only)
- The Bungalow Mystery
- The Mystery at Lilac Inn
- Nancy's Mysterious Letter (original only)
- The Sign of the Twisted Candles (mentioned in original)
- The Password to Larkspur Lane
- The Clue in the Jewel Box
- The Invisible Intruder
- The Mysterious Mannequin