The Nancy Drew Mystery Stories is the first book series to feature Nancy Drew, and it is the most well-known series in the Nancy Drew franchise. The series ran from 1930 to 2003 and consists of 175 books, which are still in print today. The first 56 books were published by Grosset & Dunlap, and the remaining books were published by Simon & Schuster.
The Nancy Drew Mystery Stories were first published on April 28, 1930, by publisher Grosset & Dunlap. The series was created by book packaging pioneer Edward Stratemeyer, who died two weeks after the character's debut. Upon his death, his daughters Harriet Adams and Edna Stratemeyer (later Squier) took over his book packaging company, the Stratemeyer Syndicate.
From 1930 to 1957, each volume consisted of 25 chapters, with approximately 210 pages. From 1930 to 1936, each featured three illustrations plus a frontispiece. From 1937 onward, there was only the frontispiece. In 1943, Russell Tandy revised all the front pieces to ink-lined sketches, due to rationing during World War II. In 1950, Russell Tandy retired and was replaced by artist Bill Gillies. Gillies was then replaced in 1953 by Rudy Nappi.
Beginning in 1958, the Stratemeyer Syndicate began the process of revising every Nancy Drew book published up to that point (34 volumes). This was driven by complaints of racist behaviors/stereotypes, outdated language and situations, and a desire to shorten the books for printing costs and to compete with television. The first 34 books were revised in a process that lasted from 1959 to 1977.
In the revision process, many titles took on choppy storylines, dropped/changed subplots and characters, and in some cases, completely different plots. Eight titles ended up with completely different plots as a result of this:
- 2. The Hidden Staircase
- 4. The Mystery at Lilac Inn
- 5. The Secret at Shadow Ranch
- 11. The Clue of the Broken Locket
- 12. The Message in the Hollow Oak
- 14. The Whispering Statue
- 17. The Mystery of the Brass Bound Trunk
- 18. The Mystery at the Moss-Covered Mansion
The revised editions each consist of 20 chapters, and are approximately 170-180 pages in length. The illustrations became pencil sketches of various scenes, and there are approximately six of these throughout each book (plus the frontispiece).
Move to Simon & Schuster
By the late 1970s, relations between the Stratemeyer Syndicate and Grosset & Dunlap had become tense. Harriet Adams was often in dispute with Grosset & Dunlap editor Anne Hagan over the series' direction, and was upset with many of the publisher's decisions during the last couple of years of their association. Many of the Syndicate's partners also believed the publisher was withholding proper royalties by using the contract signed by Edward Stratemeyer fifty years earlier for the royalty (which, by the late 1970s, had become a very low figure due to inflation and the end of the gold standard in 1933). To cut costs, Adams approached the publishers about switching the Syndicate's series to paperback format. However, Grosset & Dunlap adamantly refused.
In 1979, the Stratemeyer Syndicate announced it would leave longtime partner Grosset & Dunlap for its competitor, Simon & Schuster. The latter not only agreed to print the books in paperback, but also to give more creative control to the Syndicate. Shocked by the move, Grosset & Dunlap sued both the Syndicate and Simon & Schuster (then owned by Gulf + Western) for breach of contract. In 1982, a judge found that while Grosset & Dunlap could reprint the titles it already had printed up to 1979, the Syndicate was free to take their series to whichever publisher they wanted.
Adams died in March 1982, and the Syndicate and its characters were sold to Simon & Schuster in 1985. After the sale, the publisher put the Mystery Stories on hiatus to launch The Nancy Drew Files. In 1987, the series was revived, with Mega-Books serving as the packager, and Anne Greenberg as the editor. The Nancy Drew Mystery Stories continued at Simon & Schuster until 2003, lasting 175 volumes across both publishers.
In 2005, when both Simon & Schuster and Grosset & Dunlap celebrated the 75th anniversary of the Nancy Drew character, Grosset & Dunlap was allowed to republish books 57 through 64 in hardcover format for the first time. They retained the same formatting and illustrations from their first printings. These books went out of print in 2013.
List of Books
1930-1979: The "Original 56"
|1||The Secret of the Old Clock||1930||Mildred Wirt||1959||Harriet Adams|
|2||The Hidden Staircase||1930||Mildred Wirt||1959||Harriet Adams|
|3||The Bungalow Mystery||1930||Mildred Wirt||1960||Patricia Doll|
|4||The Mystery at Lilac Inn||1930||Mildred Wirt||1961||Patricia Doll|
|5||The Secret at Shadow Ranch||1931||Mildred Wirt||1965||Grace Gote|
|6||The Secret of Red Gate Farm||1931||Mildred Wirt||1961||Lynn Ealer|
|7||The Clue in the Diary||1932||Mildred Wirt||1962||Harriet Adams|
|8||Nancy's Mysterious Letter||1932||Walter Karig||1968||Harriet Adams|
|9||The Sign of the Twisted Candles||1933||Walter Karig||1968||Patricia Doll|
|10||The Password to Larkspur Lane||1933||Walter Karig||1966||Patricia Doll|
|11||The Clue of the Broken Locket||1934||Mildred Wirt||1965||Grace Gote|
|12||The Message in the Hollow Oak||1935||Mildred Wirt||1972||Grace Gote|
|13||The Mystery of the Ivory Charm||1936||Mildred Wirt||1974||Priscilla Baker-Carr|
|14||The Whispering Statue||1937||Mildred Wirt||1970||Harriet Adams|
|15||The Haunted Bridge||1937||Mildred Wirt||1972||Priscilla Baker-Carr|
|16||The Clue of the Tapping Heels||1939||Mildred Wirt||1969||Harriet Adams|
|17||The Mystery of the Brass-Bound Trunk||1940||Mildred Wirt||1976||Harriet Adams|
|18||The Mystery at the Moss-Covered Mansion||1941||Mildred Wirt||1971||Harriet Adams|
|19||The Quest of the Missing Map||1942||Mildred Wirt||1969||Priscilla Baker-Carr|
|20||The Clue in the Jewel Box||1943||Mildred Wirt||1972||Priscilla Baker-Carr|
|21||The Secret in the Old Attic||1944||Mildred Wirt||1970||Priscilla Baker-Carr|
|22||The Clue in the Crumbling Wall||1945||Mildred Wirt||1973||Priscilla Baker-Carr|
|23||The Mystery of the Tolling Bell||1946||Mildred Wirt||1973||Priscilla Baker-Carr|
|24||The Clue in the Old Album||1947||Mildred Wirt||1977||Priscilla Baker-Carr|
|25||The Ghost of Blackwood Hall||1948||Mildred Wirt||1967||Priscilla Baker-Carr|
|26||The Clue of the Leaning Chimney||1949||George Waller, Jr.||1967||Priscilla Baker-Carr|
|27||The Secret of the Wooden Lady||1950||Margaret Scherf||1967||Priscilla Baker-Carr|
|28||The Clue of the Black Keys||1951||Whilemina Rankin||1968||Priscilla Baker-Carr|
|29||The Mystery at the Ski Jump||1952||Alma Sasse||1968||Ann Shultes|
|30||The Clue of the Velvet Mask||1953||Mildred Wirt Benson||1969||Priscilla Baker-Carr|
|31||The Ringmaster's Secret||1953||Harriet Adams||1974||June Dunn|
|32||The Scarlet Slipper Mystery||1954||Charles S. Strong||1974||Ann Shultes|
|33||The Witch Tree Symbol||1955||Harriet Adams||1975||Ann Shultes|
|34||The Hidden Window Mystery||1956||Patricia Doll||1975||Mary Fischer|
|35||The Haunted Showboat||1957||Harriet Adams|
|36||The Secret of the Golden Pavilion||1959||Harriet Adams|
|37||The Clue in the Old Stagecoach||1960||Harriet Adams|
|38||The Mystery of the Fire Dragon||1961||Harriet Adams|
|39||The Clue of the Dancing Puppet||1962||Harriet Adams|
|40||The Moonstone Castle Mystery||1963||Harriet Adams|
|41||The Clue of the Whistling Bagpipes||1964||Harriet Adams|
|42||The Phantom of Pine Hill||1965||Harriet Adams|
|43||The Mystery of the 99 Steps||1966||Harriet Adams|
|44||The Clue in the Crossword Cipher||1967||Harriet Adams|
|45||The Spider Sapphire Mystery||1968||Harriet Adams|
|46||The Invisible Intruder||1969||Harriet Adams|
|47||The Mysterious Mannequin||1970||Harriet Adams|
|48||The Crooked Banister||1971||Harriet Adams|
|49||The Secret of Mirror Bay||1972||Harriet Adams|
|50||The Double Jinx Mystery||1973||Harriet Adams|
|51||Mystery of the Glowing Eye||1974||Harriet Adams|
|52||The Secret of the Forgotten City||1975||Harriet Adams|
|53||The Sky Phantom||1976||Harriet Adams|
|54||The Strange Message in the Parchment||1977||Harriet Adams|
|55||Mystery of Crocodile Island||1978||Harriet Adams|
|56||The Thirteenth Pearl||1979||Harriet Adams|
1979-1985: The "Wanderer Era"
The list of authorship is confirmed from "the Beneckie Papers", a list of Syndicate ghostwriters which Nancy Axelrad composed in 1985 during the sale of the Stratemeyer Syndicate. The authorship of volumes 73 and 75 are unknown.
|57||The Triple Hoax||1979||Harriet Adams|
|58||The Flying Saucer Mystery||1980||Harriet Adams|
|59||The Secret in the Old Lace||1980||Harriet Adams & Nancy Axelrad|
|60||The Greek Symbol Mystery||1980||Nancy Axelrad|
|61||The Swami's Ring||1981||Nancy Axelrad|
|62||The Kachina Doll Mystery||1981||Sharon Wagner|
|63||The Twin Dilemma||1981||Nancy Axelrad|
|64||Captive Witness||1981||Richard Ballard|
|65||Mystery of the Winged Lion||1982||Nancy Axelrad|
|66||Race Against Time||1982||James Duncan Lawrence|
|67||The Sinister Omen||1982||Richard Ballard|
|68||The Elusive Heiress||1982||Sharon Wagner|
|69||Clue in the Ancient Disguise||1982||James Duncan Lawrence|
|70||The Broken Anchor||1983||Sharon Wagner|
|71||The Silver Cobweb||1983||James Duncan Lawrence|
|72||The Haunted Carousel||1983||James Duncan Lawrence|
|74||The Mysterious Image||1984||James Duncan Lawrence|
|75||The Emerald-Eyed Cat Mystery||1984|
|76||The Eskimo's Secret||1985||Sharon Wagner|
|77||The Bluebeard Room||1985||James Duncan Lawrence|
|78||The Phantom of Venice||1985||James Duncan Lawrence|
1987-2003: The "Digests"
- Clue in the Clock, a fictitious Nancy Drew book
- The Nancy Drew Files, a spin-off that ran concurrent to the "Digest" titles