The Nancy Drew Mystery Stories is the first book series to feature Nancy Drew, and consists of 56 books published by Grosset & Dunlap. It is the most well-known series featuring Nancy Drew, and is still in print today.



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 200 pages. From 1930 to 1936, each featured three illustrations plus a frontispiece. From 1937 onward, there was only the frontispiece.


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 This was driven by complaints of racist behaviors/stereotypes, outdated language and situations, and a desire to shorten the books for printing costs and to compete with television.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). 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. 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 1982, and the Syndicate and its characters were sold to Simon & Schuster in 1986. 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.

List of Books

# Title Orig.




1 The Secret of the Old Clock 1930 1959
2 The Hidden Staircase
3 The Bungalow Mystery 1960
4 The Mystery at Lilac Inn 1961
5 The Secret at Shadow Ranch 1931 1965
6 The Secret of Red Gate Farm 1961
7 The Clue in the Diary 1932 1962
8 Nancy's Mysterious Letter 1968
9 The Sign of the Twisted Candles 1933
10 The Password to Larkspur Lane 1966
11 The Clue of the Broken Locket 1934 1965
12 The Message in the Hollow Oak 1935 1972
13 The Mystery of the Ivory Charm 1936 1974
14 The Whispering Statue 1937 1970
15 The Haunted Bridge 1972
16 The Clue of the Tapping Heels 1939 1969
17 The Mystery of the Brass-Bound Trunk 1940 1976
18 The Mystery at the Moss-Covered Mansion 1941 1971
19 The Quest of the Missing Map 1942 1969
20 The Clue in the Jewel Box 1943 1972
21 The Secret in the Old Attic 1944 1970
22 The Clue in the Crumbling Wall 1945 1973
23 The Mystery of the Tolling Bell 1946
24 The Clue in the Old Album 1947 1977
25 The Ghost of Blackwood Hall 1948 1967
26 The Clue of the Leaning Chimney 1949
27 The Secret of the Wooden Lady 1950
28 The Clue of the Black Keys 1951 1968
29 The Mystery at the Ski Jump 1952
30 The Clue of the Velvet Mask 1953 1969
31 The Ringmaster's Secret 1974
32 The Scarlet Slipper Mystery 1954
33 The Witch Tree Symbol 1955 1975
34 The Hidden Window Mystery 1956
35 The Haunted Showboat 1957
36 The Secret of the Golden Pavilion 1959
37 The Clue in the Old Stagecoach 1960
38 The Mystery of the Fire Dragon 1961
39 The Clue of the Dancing Puppet 1962
40 The Moonstone Castle Mystery 1963
41 The Clue of the Whistling Bagpipes 1964
42 The Phantom of Pine Hill 1965
43 The Mystery of the 99 Steps 1966
44 The Clue in the Crossword Cipher 1967
45 The Spider Sapphire Mystery 1968
46 The Invisible Intruder 1969
47 The Mysterious Mannequin 1970
48 The Crooked Banister 1971
49 The Secret of Mirror Bay 1972
50 The Double Jinx Mystery 1973
51 Mystery of the Glowing Eye 1974
52 The Secret of the Forgotten City 1975
53 The Sky Phantom 1976
54 The Strange Message in the Parchment 1977
55 Mystery of Crocodile Island 1978
56 The Thirteenth Pearl 1979

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