Nancy Drew Wiki
Nancy Drew Wiki

Helen Corning, later adding Archer in the revised editions, is a character in the popular Nancy Drew Mystery Stories. Helen was Nancy's friend and her sole sidekick in the series before the development of Bess Marvin and George Fayne shortly after the series launch.


Original texts[]

In the original text editions, Helen is Nancy's friend who is not actively engaged in her mysteries. She was included in the first four books, which were outlined by Edward Stratemeyer. For The Secret at Shadow Ranch, Stratemeyer's secretary Harriet Otis Smith developed the characters Bess Marvin and George Fayne. Helen appears in Nancy's Mysterious Letter and The Password to Larkspur Lane, the ladder of which she took an active role in Nancy's sleuthing. These two books were written by Walter Karig, who had taken over for Mildred Wirt during a brief hiatus. Following Wirt's return to the series for The Clue of the Broken Locket, Helen was unceremoniously dropped from the series aside from a brief cameo in The Clue in the Jewel Box.

Revised texts[]

For years after her abrupt departure, the Stratemeyer Syndicate would receive inquiries from series readers about what happened to Helen. As development of the revised texts began, Harriet Adams plotted to add a storyline to make Helen's departure more natural. Upon the release of the revisions for the first four books of the series from 1959 to 1961, Helen was retained for the stories and became a more active participant in Nancy's mysteries; in the revision of The Hidden Staircase, Helen introduces Nancy to the mystery. However, she is now three years older than Nancy. In the revision for The Hidden Staircase, Helen tells Nancy she is engaged to Jim Archer, and it is presumed they marry shortly after The Mystery at Lilac Inn. She was not featured in the revision of Nancy's Mysterious Letter, and her role in the revision of The Password to Larkspur Lane was greatly reduced. For her appearances in the revised stories after Lilac Inn, she is referred to as Helen Corning Archer.

The only original series stories Helen appears in post-1959 are The Invisible Intruder - in which she and her husband played a prominent role - and a brief but important role in The Mysterious Mannequin. Following this, Helen is never seen nor mentioned again.

Girl Detective series[]

In the Girl Detective series, Helen's only appearance or mention is in Stop the Clock. She is back to being the same age as Nancy, and was also friends with Bess and George. However, her parents divorced and she left River Heights to pursue a movie career in Los Angeles, living with her father. Her mother remained in River Heights as a librarian, and is a suspect in Nancy's case. Helen appears briefly in the final chapter.